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In a Hot Labor Market, Some Employees Are 'Ghosting' Bad Bosses (npr.org)
135 points by DontGiveTwoFlux 29 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 160 comments



Reading these comments, it seems like a lot of HNers don't understand how awful the power dynamic can be between workers and bosses outside of a tech/white-collar context. Sure, office work can be toxic, but at places like bars, restaurants, fast food, etc. where workers are mostly unskilled and turnover is high, management can be outright exploitative.

People who work for minimum wage generally have no leverage when it comes to how they're treated and often put up with a lot of abuse because if they quit and miss that next paycheck chances are they won't be able to make rent or buy food. Their bosses know this and the worst of them know exactly how to exploit it.

I've heard plenty of horror stories, mostly including your typical verbal abuse and sexual harassment, but a surprising amount were more extreme. Things like threats of violence and extortion. This pales in comparison to some of the things I've heard, but at one job I was called "retarded" by my boss on my first day and it only got worse from there. I didn't ghost, but I did quit on the spot once I had my fill. That employer didn't deserve a 2 week notice, and 13 years later I still stand by that.

Due to the power dynamic people will put up with this for months, even years, on end. When a worker has had enough is it really any surprise they would ghost? Can you really blame them?


So, it's been a while, but I have worked some of the jobs you mentioned. I didn't find management or coworkers substantially better or worse than in software/white collar. Not to say everyone was angels, I'm just saying it was comparable to software, which has its share of jerks (sometimes that has included me). Agree with you that power dynamic is different, as is corporate structure (intrinsically more site/region based) that also makes it harder to report an abusive person in the chain.

But it sounds like you had a truly abusive manager, and you still didn't ghost, to your credit.


A company will fire you with absolutely no hesitation or mercy if they feel it is good for their bottom line, with no respect for your personal well-being. However, I feel that informing your boss that you're quitting is a reasonably easy thing to do which could help real people at that company and seems like common decency to me


> informing your boss that you're quitting is a reasonably easy thing to do which could help real people at that company and seems like common decency to me

Decency and respect in general is a two-way street. If your boss is an asshole and the company doesn't give a single lonely shit you don't owe it "common decency".

It's not like that sort of company puts a single dime in "common decency" when time comes for layoffs or firing people, instead they get company security and their stuff shoved in a cardboard box.

If the company is decent and you're quitting because you've found a great job or you think you deserve a raise and they don't agree, sure put in your two weeks and everything. The article specifically talks about bad bosses though, so that probably ain't the subject.


"Decency and respect in general is a two-way street"

No it isn't. Decency and respect is a way you choose to conduct yourself.

I treat everyone with decency and respect. I choose not to associate with people that are immoral or toxic, but I will treat them with decency and respect because I will not let someone else's conduct dictate how I act. If your boss is bad, resign as soon as possible with 2 weeks notice and wipe your hands of it.


> If your boss is bad, resign as soon as possible with 2 weeks notice and wipe your hands of it

2 weeks is a guidelines, and there are a lot of exceptions for the guideline. To be quite honest, there are some jobs where I'd give more than 2 weeks, and there are other jobs where walking up to the boss and saying, "I quit" is completely appropriate.

IMO, ghosting is (almost) never appropriate. I think the only exception are situations of personal safety or situations where contact with the employer would have legal consequences. In those cases, I'd get a lawyer involved ASAP to handle communication with my prior employer.

But, getting back to quitting with less than 2 weeks notice. If a situation is truly miserable, but people are generally reasonable, (IE, no personal safety or legal issues,) I think it's best to explain the situation. I certainly would never expect a miserable subordinate to stay.

I once quit a beer money job on short notice. There were a few things promised that weren't delivered, and a few expenses that weren't explained. I didn't feel guilty.


How much notice they get is often related to their fulfillment of the social contract, or literal implied work contract. Changing the terms after the fact, abrogates the agreement.


This is a central point under debate, I suppose, but literally walking away with no notice is petty and petty people have a place in the world despite their pettiness - rarely because of it.

I could, with time, construct a story about how a greedy person harnesses that greed as a motivator to do great works for a society. Same with selfishness. They aren't pretty, but they can sustain someone as they complete a large, complicated project. Pettiness, I can't do that. Maybe it is possible, but I've only ever seen pettiness as an ugly (and worse, unproductive!) trait. It isn't something that can sustain long-term action.

Some bosses are worse than petty, so we're trawling the bottom of the trench of behavior here, but correct response for an employee is to show a little pride in their character and tell someone that they aren't coming back and wait a little bit. Going through life without being petty once is a tough but worthwhile goal, and if an employee wants to disrespect their boss being petty does not work. There are instances where no notice is appropriate, but they are pretty extreme.


> 2 weeks is a guidelines

Denends on the jurisdiction. In Alberta, notice period is governed by labour code and is not optional. Employers can choose to pay in lieu of notice.

https://www.alberta.ca/termination-pay.aspx


When one party conducts themselves with decency, and the other doesn’t (employer), the decent one is ripe for being taken advantage of.


Instead of descending to their level, how about you take yourself out of the bad situation? This sort of grievance morality is just, "An eye for an eye, making the whole world blind."


When your focus is on removing yourself, you will eventually run from everywhere having limited options where to go. Also leave all the bullies targeting even weaker people. Or just become enabler, because not enabling became something bad.


Ghosting is running. Not only is it running, but it's degrading our collective life and common courtesy.


You can be decent without being a doormat.


A man and his son are walking down the street. The man tips his hat in greeting to a passing woman. The son asks "Why did you tip your hat to her? She's no lady!" The man replies "You're right she's no lady. But I am a gentleman."


Thank you.


You're confusing courtesy and decency, to say nothing of respect.


In general yes, but if ones definition of good behavior requires you to leave and have no other options for bad situations, then that definition is suspect - because it leaves people in truly bad situations powerless and often amounts to enabling.

I definitely don't require people to be heroes and take action. But, if definition of good behavior turns such actions into something bad, then the definition is wrong.


>If your boss is bad, resign as soon as possible and wipe your hands of it.

Look, I removed the 2 weeks notice and boom!, you are the person in the Article!


The article is about leaving without resigning or doing anything. Even quitting with zero notice is better than what is being talked about here.


Is it though?

Seems to me Employees are walking off jobs due to being treated like shit for so many years.

We're complaining about someone who went from being a Lifeguard to a Pizza Delivery Driver. Let's not pretend that these are the types of jobs that need to be "resigned" from and that employers are treating these people with respect and dignity.


Walking off in a rage is still not ghosting. Unless you do it silently when your boss doesn’t see.

I’ve had shitty jobs including a stint at Walmart. You may leave without notice but the vast majority of people had the decency to tell their manager they were out. People working crap jobs have self respect and common decency too.


> vast majority of people had the decency to tell their manager they were out

The ghosting is sending a message to people who value money over people. That to me is the undercurrent theme of all this. That is why it is a trend. The companies are not "people" they are entities and the managers are simply lever pulling proxies for the company.


You may not realize it if you haven’t worked these jobs - but the person you hurt most when skipping your shift is not the company. It’s the poor soul promoted to frontline management getting an extra $1 an hour. At Walmart you’ll see them with the red vests.

They’re the ones who get yelled at by the customers for the crappy service and upper management for not being able to find someone to come in on zero notice.

I can guarantee that the one place the message doesn’t go is upper management in corporate.


it does when there is a net decline of $20,000 due to a shutdown.I guarantee those get noticed because I am in the job that notices them. The message gets sent, whether it is received is another story. Sadly, idiots are being promoted to corporate too.

This why a trend where labor is unreliable (in the old days it was a strike) will get people's attention.


If a union goes on strike they have the decency to tell the company they are striking. That's the difference between ghosting and quitting in protest. If you had no employees because they all quit you still have to shutdown even if they told you they were quitting.

This has very little to do with whether someone actually comes into work and everything to do with what they say or don't say.


This is what is referred to as the Golden Rule. https://www.gotquestions.org/Golden-Rule.html

It's an interesting hack on quid pro quo that I recommend to everyone.


Then you can upgrade to the Categorical Imperative: "do unto others as they have done to you" becomes "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," which becomes "do what you would want all others to do." It's subtle, but important.


It's a subtle change with great appeal to universalizing thinkers, but one which, as commonly formulated, makes many suggestions that seem intuitively wrong without adding a lot of qualifiers, and at that point you've just punted the task of formalizing ethics one level up.


Can you elaborate? As far as I understand it, the difference between the Golden Rule and the Categorical Imperative is acting in ways that don't involve reciprocity. The former is a rule against stabbing other people; the latter is also a rule that people going around stabbing themselves would be a bad idea.


While the categorical imperative is kind of okay at justifying abstract prohibitions, most concrete actions don't universalize very well in the presence of people who are not precisely you; just take a look at any "falsehoods programmers believe" list. Some of these are occasionally useful to. Even something as simple as "sit on toilets" is hard to naively universalize unconditionally, and once you've filled in the blanks you've done no less work than if you hadn't started from the categorical imperative in the first place.

And then there's the "lying to a murderer"-type problem, where the apparent implication of the categorical imperative seems to be flat-out wrong: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorical_imperative#Lying_t...


Except if you think about it for any length of time there is no way the Golden Rule either good, desirable or workable.

There are some people who have preferences that you just don't like and they would do unto you in a way that they would want to be done unto but that you certainly do not.

I'm convinced the subtext of this rule says something very different than the text of this rule...


I want others to treat me in a fashion that I like. In return I try to treat them in the fashion they like. This is the Golden rule.


Even that formulation still fails. You don't know everyones preference. You can't actually do it.

I know what the text of it says. I just think the subtext says something much different. Or the whole thing is just plain wrong, but in an accidentally useful way.


You know a reasonable approximation of everyone's preference, and with a modicum of empathy and communication you should be able to suss out the areas where it might be unclear.


That sounds good on a surface level analysis but closer inspection of how political correctness has changed over the last century suggests it's actually not at all as simple as you make it out to be. We're actually crap at pulling it off.

If it requires communication then the formulation is actually closer to "treat others how they state they'd like to be treated". We're getting further and further away from the original formulation.

Think of it another way... If you were a 19th century man, it's not likely you would have a cordial chat with a woman or a gay man, deploy empathy and come to 21st conclusions on how you should treat them.

The change is hard fought and hard won. How we state we want to be treated is a matter of both public and private discourse and it's a long process for enough communication to happen for the baseline of what social norms should be to shift in a noticeable way.


I agree that if I were a 19th century man I likely would not have treated women or minorites the way they wished to be treated. I don't see how the unlikelihood of me having employed the golden rule invalidates it in any way.


It's not the unlikelihood of you having employed it. It's the likelihood of you having employed it and that not having the results your 21st century self might assume that it generates.

So maybe 2 decades ago people bandied it about like they meant it and then still unironically said things like "I didn't like that movie, it was gay."

I'm simply saying the function of the golden rule is different than what you think it is.


You seem to be suggesting that the golden rule is a flawed premise because people generally suck and fail to live up to it. I don't understand how one implies the other.


It's not possible to live up to it with the golden rule alone. It's the lengthy political and social processes that shift the behavior over time. Then people remind each other of the golden rule as if thats how we got to where we did.

The golden rule as a meme certainly has a function. I'm implying that it's the perception of the golden rules function that is flawed.


The golden rule is almost the opposite of quid pro quo ("you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours")

A common statement of it is "Do unto others as you would have them do to you". It has equivalents across human history and cultures. It says nothing about the actions of others.


> Decency and respect in general is a two-way street. If your boss is an asshole and the company doesn't give a single lonely shit you don't owe it "common decency".

People seem to forget that quitting with no notice also screws one's co-workers. And often times it's the "innocent" co-workers that are affected the worst. I've learned far too late in life that there is never a justification for being a jerk, especially as the unintended and unwanted side effects will reap subtle mayhem around you.


I disagree; I and a few other good coworkers were managed by a pretty horrible boss (pretty horrible as in he is known by name as a horrible person to work for by multiple corporate HR departments and recruiting agencies in our metropolitan area who all wanted to poach us), and I think we all gave our two weeks notices when we could.

You should always act in a way that optimizes your own desirability as an employee or a person to be associated with in order to keep your options open. It's very rare to find yourself on a hill worth dying on, and to have that hill be clearly seen by others. For me, that standard is not letting an employee go to a funeral, or be at the birth of your child, or something timeboxed and will cause similar extreme emotional/mental pain and duress.

Of course, the flip side is to not have your internal judgments skewed by constant interactions with said boss or bosses. I'm guessing that's how you become a bad boss or employee over time.


Decency and respect in general is a two-way street.

No. If you have a morality which says you can act as badly as the worst life throws at you, then your moral conduct isn't stable. You can't have a morality like that, and have something like human rights. Human rights are supposed to be inherent. You can't take them away simply because you're ticked off, or you're practicing tit-for-tat. You can't simply nominate yourself as judge, jury, and executioner.

If you would advocate for human dignity, you not only have to advocate for yourself. You have to do it for others. You have to advocate for human dignity for people you do not like, and for people who you might find offensive or who may even have offended you. If you don't, then you don't believe in human dignity as a principle. You just believe in dignity for yourself and what you can get through whatever power happens to be in your reach.


Don't equate "your boss" with "the company". You're absolutely right, your boss could be the reason you're quitting, but by and large, your boss is probably just another cog in the same machine that is causing you grief as well.


If your boss is a great person, you probably know about it even if they get put in a bad way by the company and that's got consequences for you.

If you're getting no respect back for the respect you put in, and you're not quitting despite your boss, the distinction is immaterial.


> If your boss is an asshole and the company doesn't give a single lonely shit you don't owe it "common decency".

The important word here is "common". Precisely and pedantically, if you think it's only earned by some, then decency is uncommon for you.


It’s called “character.” It does matter. The way I choose to conduct myself is a reflection of me, not a reflection of the failings of those with whom I deal. Treating everyone as you wish to be treated is good policy even if they don’t do the same for you.


I agree. A very simple “I choose to terminate my employment with your company effective xx/xx/xxxx” is much more respectable. No need to give a reason, just state the facts and move on. Ghosting seems really immature, like the person doesn’t want to face up to their actions. As well, I was always taught to never burn a bridge because you have no idea who you’re going to see again in the future. Impressions matter.


> informing your boss that you're quitting is a reasonably easy thing to do which could help real people at that company and seems like common decency to me

Last three times I gave written two week notice I was detained immediately until a security guard could search my pockets and bag, confiscate my company id, and escort me out of the building. All times I was on very good terms with management up to the minute before that.

"I regret to inform you that I must terminate my employment, effective immediately." is the phrase I use now, mailed Saturday morning from the post office so it gets there Monday morning. Friday I stay late, clear out all my personal belongings, and commit-in all my in-progress projects.


What types of companies were these? I've never had this happen to me, though I've also intentionally avoided overly-corporate settings.


It's pretty common for Sysad types.

Sure, the damage could already have been done, but it makes management feel better that they can eject you right then and there.


It's not uncommon is sales (not stealing the rolodex) or if you're leaving for a competitor.


While I generally agree, I can imagine that there are some people out there that have been treated so poorly by their bosses, that they either feel it would not be a productive conversation, or they are just flat out afraid of their bosses reaction (and rightly so), or (as in the case of the article) they feel that extreme action is the only course of action that get their point across. Although, to that last point, one of the bosses at my job (but not my department) is like that, and he still cannot figure out why people up and quit on him, even though he's just a complete shit-head. I must admit to a enjoying healthy dose of schadenfreude whenever it happens.


However, I feel that informing your boss that you're quitting is a reasonably easy thing to do which could help real people at that company and seems like common decency to me

There is indeed a common decency regression in the current tech workforce. It used to be, that not making an appointment, not making a phone call appointment, and the like were simply not done when it came to job interviews and the hiring process. Lots of tech professionals (as corroborated by people saying so here on HN) seem to think it's okay...stuff happens...maybe they just got busy.

Hiring and job interviews are serious business. People's livelihoods are an important issue. It's not the kind of place where it's okay...stuff happens...maybe they just got busy. An attitude like that just strikes me as lacking empathy and awareness of how one is affecting other people. That's not how I think good people behave.

(EDIT: I'm not talking about interviewees blowing off the call. I'm talking about interviewers! With great power comes great responsibility.)


As an interviewer, I try to apply the robustness principle: Be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others.

After all, if I was scheduled to interview someone and they don't turn up, that just means I get a free hour to work on something more interesting!


As an interviewer, I try to apply the robustness principle: Be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others.

As an interviewer, you are in a position of power. You have more responsibility for the treatment of the other party. My experience in the Bay Area is of interviewers blowing off phone appointments off.


> A company will fire you with absolutely no hesitation or mercy if they feel it is good for their bottom line

You can also quit with no hesitation or mercy. However, basically no employers on earth will simply stop sending you your paychecks and let it sort itself out, office space style. Which is the equivalent here of 'ghosting' someone.


What, you mean like the US Federal Government?



well in my case and others, turning in a formal notice can mean access to unused vacation pay and even benefits for the next thirty days.

the examples used in this article were all poor. they picked obviously underpaid hourly positions where walk outs and no shows are not an uncommon exit method. hell in some areas and jobs you can walk out one month and get hired a few weeks or months down the road


Hell, some companies will even walk you out (terminate, fire) when you give notice, and deny you the two weeks earning you would've made. I've seen this happen at multiple companies, to multiple people, myself included.


It's easy when your boss is reasonable. I've gotten a verbal lashing from my boss before when I was promoted out of his department.


With at-will employment and layoffs being what they are, the only thing gauche about this would seem to be the lack of notification to the employer.

Having seen several mass "firing-squad" style layoffs where there's a meeting and some go right while others go left, I've always wondered why two-weeks notice is so engrained culturally when an employee decides to leave on their own.


>I've always wondered why two-weeks notice is so engrained culturally when an employee decides to leave on their own.

I'm torn. On one hand, just not showing up is a pretty crappy thing to do to anyone in any situation. On the other, you're right; a company may be perfectly fine leaving you high and dry without notice. Sometimes people in our position get severance or even a heads up, but often times people don't. It's not fair, but I suppose the reality is that many will want a good recommendation, but no one pegs the boss with a layoff.


It's all based on your relationship with your existing co-workers, and the current project(s) that you're on.

If, in general, things are going good, I'm just moving on, I'm not going to drop projects that I'm in the middle of. This is especially the case if I like my co-workers and would want to work with them again.


Do people actually call for recommendations? Hell I just use a coworker I worked extensively with. I've been asked to be a recommendation by previous co-workers and rarely get a call. It has declined over the past ten years. References seem to be a dead thing. It's a waste of time. Of course they are going to be positive. I can't imagine someone would list a reference where they say "fuck that person"


I've been called for about 75% of the references I've given.


It depends, but for my current job they took references seriously and I was glad to have good ones. Of course they will be positive, it's more about "can this guy scrounge up 3 people to vouch for him." If you can't, that's enough to draw a conclusion from.


There's even services that you can pay, that will claim to be the so_and_so's supervisor or colleague or whomever to play the references game.

They are indeed worthless. Well, unless you're going through clearance paperwork that requires proof of people for things you say happen. Don't like there. It will come back and bite you; with felonies.


That sounds like fraud regardless if it is for security clearance or not.


I've given two references.

One for an intern that worked under me, and the company in question was super-thorough about it. They wanted data-supported statements, wanted to know about his projects, and so on. I felt like it was a useful conversation for that company.

One was for my old boss. The company in question pretty much wanted to know one thing: "Was he an asshole."


Depends I suppose, I don't have any real data aside from my own experience. I've had some companies give previous employers a call (especially in regulated industries), some don't seem to care. They always ask though.


Definitely not a dead thing in my experience. All of my past jobs have reached out to all my provided references (as they confirmed with me after) to get a sense of the type of work I did & how it was to work with me.


I'm not saying I think this is right, but people have so little social capital compared to companies. One mistake by an employee could follow them their whole career. A massive firing by a company will be forgotten about in the news by the end of the day. People will need work and eventually apply.


Any U.S. employer I've had would always either (1) give at least two weeks notice so the employee can find new employment, or (2) give at least two weeks severance pay.

In theory, at-will U.S. employers don't have to give any notice for termination, but in practice, is that actually very common?


In my experience this is only true for high skilled or white collar jobs. When I worked at a fast food restaurant there were no such protections, but that's when I needed them the most.


I think the main reason is pragmatic concern for reputation and not burning bridges.


It’s more about loss aversion than any real impact. Burning a few bridges has negligible impact in a healthy labor market.


It makes a lot of sense if you're doing a job where if you don't show up, they have to fill the gap right away. Not so much for software development, but the norms carry over.


In civilised areas of the world, labour laws stipulate that either side must give 4 weeks notice. There are exceptions to that (usually you can be fired with zero notice during your first one to two months), but you can't just quit, or just be let go on the spot if you're a normal salaried employee.


1. In a layoff your boss doesn't fire you, most of the time they don't want to lose anyone. It happens above their level.

2. If you think a corporation gives no-warning layoffs is wrong, then don't reciprocate, take the high road. It's nursery school level life advice: "two wrongs don't make a right"

3. If you are young, the world may seem big. It is not. It is small. There's a good chance you'll run across your boss or a friend of their's in future. Don't burn bridges.

4. It is generally considered polite to offer 2 weeks, offer extra time to ensure an orderly transition, to do as much as possible to make sure there are no difficult loose ends for a successor, and to leave your contact info with an offer to help if any questions come up.

Just be decent and you will live a happier life.


> 1. In a layoff your boss doesn't fire you, most of the time they don't want to lose anyone. It happens above their level.

That's relevant how?

> 2. If you think a corporation gives no-warning layoffs is wrong, then don't reciprocate, take the high road. It's nursery school level life advice: "two wrongs don't make a right"

Here's more nursery school level life advice: respect is a two-way street.

> 3. If you are young, the world may seem big. It is not. It is small. You may run across your boss or a friend of their's in future. Don't burn bridges.

Or do, life's too short to keep building bridges into raging tire fires.

> 4. It is generally considered polite to offer 2 weeks, offer extra time to ensure an orderly transition, to do as much as possible to make sure there are no difficult loose ends for a successor, and to leave your contact info with an offer to help if any questions come up.

Meanwhile the company's happy upending your life overnight with no forewarning and not giving a damn about "orderly transition". If it wants orderly transition, how about it pays for it?


> Here's more nursery school level life advice: respect is a two-way street.

Treat people well, and they generally will in return. Sometimes they don't - but does that change who you are?


> If it wants orderly transition, how about it pays for it?

In every tech industry lay-off I’ve been around, the company has paid severance equal to or longer than any typical employee quitting notice period. IOW, IMO, they are paying for it in general.


I'm happy for you that your life has been so stress free.


1. Exactly. The biggest reason to leave without notice is to make management pay attention to the quality of life of your now-former coworkers.

2. Taking the high road would be giving employees at your corporation notice. Giving notice to an employee that doesn't give notice is fear-driven, codependent conformism.

3. I'm old. The world is fucking huge.

4. If you want to leave on good terms, leave on good terms. But don't just do it because it's expected. Otherwise it gets taken for granted, and is not reciprocated.


> It is generally considered polite to offer 2 weeks, offer extra time to ensure an orderly transition, to do as much as possible to make sure there are no difficult loose ends for a successor, and to leave your contact info with an offer to help if any questions come up.

...And gather anything you need before you give your notice, just in case they're the kind of douchebags who will have security frogmarch you out 5 minutes later.


> If you think a corporation gives no-warning layoffs is wrong, then don't reciprocate, take the high road.

Right. And never tell them the real reason why you left or tell them anything negative in an exit interview (if they have one). Just keep it positive and tell them how you just loved working there and there so many opportunities though etc etc.

Burning bridges might feel good, but it's better not to do it. Even for purely selfish reasons as the industry might be huge but it's super connected. You might find yourself working with the same people again in the future, isn't worth leaving a trail of smoke behind.


1. It's not my fault! It's not personal, it's business.

2. Treat me better than i treat you. I have to look at the big picture here.

3. You'll be sorry if you run into me again! Better than being a pushover.

4. Don't leave me this way. I can't keep carrying your baggage.

If someone is bad enough to work for that you're ready to walk off the job there is absolutely no reason to continue enabling their toxic behavior. And if you run into them or their friends in future, guess what, they will probably still be toxic.

You should absolutely be decent, but don't smooth talkers exploit that.


> If you think a corporation gives no-warning layoffs is wrong

As in no warning, no severance, or no warning with severance?

A no warning layoff with severance might result in some hurt feelings, but it's the best way to handle it. Otherwise, emotions could result in the situation turning very sour.


Most people were saying here that corporations - as though they are all equivalent and substitutable - would lay you off without hesitation as a way to defend people abandoning jobs (or "ghost" if you want) and that was why I framed my comment in that way.

Let's be clear, you don't know how a company will lay you off until they do, and then it's too late to consider the terms of your resignation (of course).

However, if I worked for a company that did a round of layoffs that didn't include me and they gave less than 4 weeks of severance to the most junior person there then I would start looking for a new job. I'd give 2 weeks when I quit. If a company laid me off without severance, and subsequent dire circumstances required me to take me a job there again, I'd still give 2 weeks notice if I resigned. The question of whether they "deserve" it is not meaningful, it's a question of how I choose to act.

Someone elsewhere mentioned legal issues, fear of safety, or gross breach of trust (not getting paid). I'm talking about normal circumstances, not exceptional ones.


4. Then again when you're getting blatantly dicked over, this obligation no longer applies.


That's a decent headline, I feel like if this story was somewhere else it would be something like "A HUGE JUMP IN GHOSTING" or something silly. The article says "There's no official data on ghosting at work." so all they can really say it's maybe going up now. "Some Employees" seems like a good choice of words there.


NPR isn't perfect, but in my experience they're leagues ahead of most other major news outlets.


Way to go Kris. I agree with him: if ghosting will cost the employer more and that employer has disrespected you, go for the ghosting. It is indeed easily as much a statement and as satisfying as any other method of quitting. So many employers treat their employees like shit that I feel this is what they should expect in probably 90% or more of cases. Employers' complaints will fall on deaf ears when they have been abusing employees for literally the entire existence of this relationship throughout history. Even jobs that pay well and have great perks (tech for example) often treat their employees like shit and then they complain that they can't hire enough or retain their employees. I generally prefer to always send a note and make things clear, but if I could hurt the employer who hurt me more by ghosting, I would definitely do that.

Employers should learn how to respect their employees if they don't want this and other things to happen to them. Otherwise, they deserve this and worse. They could have paid the couple thousand Kris requested and was promised in raises instead of losing $20k but they were assholes. They got what they deserved those fucking pieces of shit.


You do realize in that $15-$20k is all of the other employees' pay for that day?


its the same amount of money, but not their pay


While I haven't ghosted anyone, if you are sure you will not be able to get an honest reference from them because they were dishonest people, if they say you ghosted them, at least it's clear to anyone asking that there is another side to the story.

Let's say you worked at a Theranos, your options are a) to quit amicably with the real risk they will try to discredit you to protect their reputation, b) stay and become compromised until you are thrown under the bus and fired, or c) cut off all contact and create uncertainty about how much leverage you could have while you move on and rebuild.

Barring martyring yourself as a whistle blower with or without evidence, c) looks pretty good. Looking back viewed through a lens like this, I can say people could even regret not-ghosting some former employers.


The problem with ghosting -- all forms of ghosting -- isn't that you break up or quit but that you don't bother to tell the other person.

While the break up/quit might be initiated more often when one has "market power", there is no reason people should become less or more polite while doing so.

To put it another way, you might job hop more if the market is hot just as you may date more if you are very attractive, but that doesn't mean you can or should be less polite.


The only real problem with it is that some people don't realize how small the world can be sometimes, and how easy it is to unexpectedly encounter a previously burned bridge. This is especially true in specialized professions.

There's nothing wrong with ghosting acquaintances or colleagues, especially those that have slighted you in some way, but it's definitely not polite to do it to friends or family, which you're connected to at a deeper level. Just know that there's a potential trade-off in that it may come back to bite you someday, such as when the person they just hired to be your new boss turns out to be your old boss.


I have only crocodile tears for bad employers in this scenario, but in my mind, the main reason behind the 2 week customary notice is it's for your coworkers, not really for who is writing your checks.

It can be a real dick move to the worker bees when someone up and walks with a bunch of domain knowledge without warning, especially if they now have no way to recoup it from you.


Is lack of shared knowledge the responsibility of the employee though?


Highest of double standards. There is not a thought to institutional knowledge when layoffs go out.


in my mind, the main reason behind the 2 week customary notice is it's for your coworkers, not really for who is writing your checks.

I believe it goes back to pre-internet days in order to give the payroll department time to pull you out of the process for the next round of checks, and has just become customary since then.


Dating doesn't involve an HR department, legalese, and contractual obligations.


The assumption that an employer deserves information from me as an employee is rather bold unless it was specifically put into my contract. I was hired for a specific task, and while many people accept being data-mined as "just part of the job", I'm not being paid for it.

Put it another way, it's not my job to be polite. It's nice, and helpful, and might help me do my job. But that isn't the job itself. All employment is transactional. Period.

(edited for grammar)


I am curious as to what you mean by this.

Sure it isn't your "job" and nothing bad may happen to you. Just as nothing bad will happen to you if you berate a small child without reason.

Even if there is no punishment or heaven/hell, and there are not legal issues, that doesn't mean you should not be a kind person.

If it doesn't cost you anything and it will make the life of your employer (or a complete stranger for that matter), I suggest you go ahead and do it.

I don't have an argument for why. I assume as a fellow human being you just see that it is a good (TM) thing.


1- I work with people, but I work for a company. This is an extremely important point to clarify. I don't work for people, even if the company is represented by people.

2- Being kind is great. Love it. Do it all the time.

Here's where the problem comes in with your hypothetical, and my baseline assumption: "If it doesn't cost you anything and it will make the life of your employer (or a complete stranger for that matter), I suggest you go ahead and do it."

This Is A Bold Assumption You Are Making

Quitting a job isn't easy. There's going to be guilt. There's going to be stress. And, based on the title of the article, you have a bad boss. What form this "bad" takes can be a million different things, but it's safe to say that having a shitty conversation with a bad boss is going to cost me "something" (even if it's just my time).

Respect is earned. That's my starting point. If I no-call no-show, it's because I don't respect you enough to care about the damage it will cause the company. I'm generally not a blatant asshole, so something probably happened in order for me to feel this way.

If we want to go down this rabbit hole, it gets to crazy levels of ethical questions (is it "good" to quit a job you're great at just because you don't like it, since that will cause problems for the person who has to train your replacement and they likely won't do it as well as you, potentially costing the company money in losses, etc .)

My summary is this: If I'm ghosting you, it's probably you're fault. You should take this time to reflect on why you sucked so bad that I wouldn't even have the decency to call you to let you know I quit. YMMV.


transnational -> transactional

:)


that's a new one. Good catch.


As pointed out by the article, this is forcing employers to treat their workers better.

Despite it’s brutal distortions, the labour market does sometimes work in the advantage of workers.


"... on a busy summer day, Kris didn't show up to open the park ... I ultimately caused the shutdown of the water park"

Am I the only one concerned about the lack of respect this shows to customers? Some families might have travelled a long way to get there as a special day out, there would certainly be large numbers of disappointed children, etc. Having a grievance with your boss and/or employer is one thing, but making innocent bystanders suffer as a result is something else completely.


Imagine having a business so fragile that a single employee failing to show up could take down the whole show. This is entry level business school stuff, and something anybody running a business will learn first hand very quickly.

Would you have any sympathy for management that purposefully made sure they had a "bus factor" of one and then blamed that person when they inevitably got hit by our theoretical bus?

Maybe apply the same logic the hardware resources if it helps to think of things with less of the emotion in talking about a person; The company has a single consumer grade PC running linux in the corner of a cubicle serving up the entire companies suite of applications, no load balancing or backups at all. Many devs and admins have come and gone recommending a more robust solution but management refuses to consider other options. Whose fault is it when it falls over?


If one guy closes the whole park that's a failure of management.


Is this not a management problem? A manager disrespected an employee so much that the employee didn't even let anyone know they weren't showing up.

The ex-employee contains some blame. But what they did was probably rational and _just_ from their point of view. As a manager you need to not stack up abuse on the employee to make this rational. And you need to have people you trust to open the park, if one missing person can shut down the park.


It really doesn't take much to say "hey I quit". In fact the only really bad situation I was in, I really looked forward to telling them.

I get the arguments about a bad boss and such, but be the adult and tell them. Hell telling them might be the best part.

I sorta suspect some of this is actually social awkwardness and folks avoiding an uncomfortable discussion more than it is some big social commentary about "bosses bad we have the power now".


I think ghosting is all about avoiding the anxiety of a stressful situation. It’s easier to just ignore calls and texts than to actually have to tell someone face to face that you don’t want them anymore (whether that’s a boss or a partner). There is no other “noble” purpose of ghosting, like sticking it to the man. It’s just a childish way of dealing with something.


I suspect you are right. Its not easy quiting face to face, much easier not showing up. I wonder though. If the company or people you know there would report you missing...

I've quit two jobs with notice. I'm a little bit conflict averse, and had a hard time doing it. Like many things its not easy to tell your boss you are leaving, especially if they job wasn't particularly bad and your boss is decent. For one I was going back to school, thats easier.

The first one I actually said the company will survive without me, which got a chuckle.


Funny, after years of recruiters and bosses having the upper hand they suddenly find out that what comes around goes around.

It is bad practice, but it seems it is justifiable sometimes (like the water park case)


It's justifiable but it's kind of sad that there is a downward spiral of bad behavior.


I hope people trapped in toxic or unsafe work environments use this opportunity to ghost and make it a more common tactic. I think of it as a one time strike that your employer is powerless to prevent. Eventually management will catch on and factor ghosting into their cost-benefit analysis. I think overall the effect would be positive (unless you make your living exploiting others).

People in places with crippled labor laws should consider coordinated ghosting. If the bargaining power attainable through a union has been whittled away to the point that ghosting provides more leverage, then ghosting should be adopted. The more common the tactic becomes, the less potential downside for people who adopt it.


I recently began a new position at a company which has had a bit of turbulence in the past year. While getting up to speed someone said, "We had this other guy a while back who was great, but he ghosted us and we didn't realized it until we checked our AAA logs to see when he had last authenticated".

I wondered if it was an old colleague of mine with a 15+ year reputation for ghosting employers when he was burned out, so I asked, and of course it was.

I usually leave on good enough terms to have a conversation with my boss, but I ghosted an incredibly abusive employer once, and it felt pretty good.


I had a co-worker pull this once. Let's call him Larry. Larry is not his name. It wasn't because of management, although Larry was not a great fan of the management. It's because there was a woman in our work group Larry was head-over-heels in love with. She resigned the right way, with several weeks' notice, because she and her husband were moving to another state. (Larry was not her husband.) Her last day at work was the last time we ever saw or heard from Larry.


I personally find ghosting to be a quite useful strategy in a limited range of scenarios. The scenario is basically whenever you need to reject someone but rejecting them directly would lead to significant costs to you (e.g. having to listen to someone argue, cajole or shout at you to change your mind). I think the rejectees can reduce the incidence of ghosting by eliminating those costs. If someone rejects you, simply accept the rejection without complaint.


>If someone rejects you, simply accept the rejection without complaint.

Ghosting and rejecting are not immediately synonymous to someone who's never been ghosted before. In fact, ghosting is still a relatively new term, in this sense, confined to originating within this decade (I believe). Stating for someone to simply accept the rejection without complaint is expecting it to be a standard everywhere, when that most probably is not going to be the case.

Ghosting seems to specific to the American culture and, even then, this doesn't implicitly mean that everyone will "get the hint", as it were, if they've never been exposed to it before.


I'm not claiming ghosting and rejection are synonymous. Rather, I'm saying ghosting is a useful way of rejecting someone in certain circumstances. I'm also not claiming that one can completely eliminate ghosting by accepting rejection, but I think you'll find it reduced.


A very limited range of scenarios. Like (in the dating or social context) when the other party has already crossed some important line in some fashion (e.g. by acting outright abusively).

In the vast majority of cases, it's really much better all around to at least try to close the loop properly and decently -- even if it runs the risk of some "cost" to yourself (which in most cases - such as having someone argue with you - really is quite trivial).


This is non-news. People have been walking away from jobs forever. That's way employment policies have rules about when persist absence is considered a resignation.


At a place I worked about 20 years ago, new hire in my group goes out lunch on his first day and never comes back.

It was an amusing non-event but the VP continually gave my boss grief for not taking the new hire out to lunch on his first day, as if that were the cause. I'm pretty sure the guy had another offer and was just sort of trying this one out. But my boss was diligent after that about taking new hires out to lunch on their first day.


Until one day, your boss didn't come back from lunch. So the VP now has to ban lunches.


Agreed. My employer's handbook calls it abandonment.


In IT recruiting, which I am exposed to since I have a linked-in account, there is a constant buzz of recruiters reaching out cold. I don't feel any obligation to answer them back about this and that. Because if you do, then they make you feel really bad about letting them down.

I fear that this will be another term that LinkedIn recruiters can throw in your face to make you respond. "Are you ghosting me???"


They pretty much know that IT has a very low response rate. Someone who starts following up like that will get banned from LinkedIn.


So that's why the same guy keeps adding me. Hah, never thought of it.


At the same time as I read this, I’m reading about upset 20 and 30-something Buzzfeed reporters getting laid off after 2-7 years there. I guess it is never great to be involuntarily let go from a company, but if you have the mindset that jobs are fluid (both ways) then getting laid off should not be viewed as the end of the world or something you or others around you should feel sorry about.


Market for journalists has been steadily contracting. They're upset because they will likely not get a job with anything near the kind of power journalism afforded them, even if it's for more money.


They should just learn to code, like all those coal miners who lost their jobs.


what a dumb sentiment, the world needs reporters just as much as they need coders


Ah yes, Buzzfeed reporters, the finest and most reputable of journalists, the world is most definitely reeling from the loss of their jobs.


To be fair, despite the name, buzzfeed news has won a ton of awards and broken a lot of important stories. I know, I was shocked too. But Ze Frank is a hero of mine so maybe I’m biased. I dislike buzzfeed.com as much as any other male, don’t fret.


I can't speak for everyone, but this 20/30-something was raised in a family of careerists. My dad only just left his job of 28 years for another one. My grandpa before him was with the same company for nearly 40, I believe.

I'm not saying that thinking of jobs as fluid is a bad thing. But I was raised in the mindset that "you find a good job and you stick with it", even if that mindset really doesn't fit with today's job market. (unfortunately, to my mind...I'd love nothing more than to be able to give a company my loyalty in return for theirs)


I have always given two weeks notice. I was not necessarily crazy about those I gave it to, but none of the employers truly counted as toxic.

I have seen co-workers simply vanish. This did not necessarily have to do with their disagreements with the employer. It was disconcerting. Did the guy fall off the face of the earth?


This isn't the classiest thing you can do, and a little risky if someone took it way too personally, but not the worst thing inn the world. But, ultimately, this is strong feedback to the employer that something is wrong with a manager or person, and at least deserves a closer look.


I'm all for quitting on the spot, when the situation merits. And for costing the company $15k to $20k -- again, when the situation merits. As it appears to have done in this case.

But still - given the overall narrative of the situation, it sill would be been a lot classier to have given proper notice in this case. Something short and sweet like:

"I've been trying for several weeks to work with bring my compensation in line with the very clear promises you made several months ago, but unfortunately you've been consistently unresponsive. I am now left with no choice but to terminate my services immediately. Sincerely, Kris

would be a lot easier to look back on (and explain to future employers) - and would have definitely gotten the message across.


Never by loyal to a company. Company is not a person, it can never be loyal to you and it will alway protect the interest of the shareholder. Be loyal to your boss if he deserves it, but never to a legal entity.


I mean, it's just another case of companies not paying their employees enough or not showing enough gratitude/valuing their workers. Employers just need to learn and understand the basics of how supply and demand work - I guess a lot of CEO and managers skipped that class or something. You pay more, you get more applicants. You treat them well/pay them well, they'll stick with you.


I had to blink at this headline.

It’s 2019 and it appears this headline was better fit for 5 years ago.

I work as a dev, and I still have to climb through hoops and spend money on multiple technical interviews to get hired. Friends in other industries will sometimes even have it harder.

Where are these plentiful jobs? Where is this labor market so great that employees can just walk out on a whim? This seems like NPR is out of touch.


This has been covered by far more than NPR - unemployment is at its lowest number in years, and labor force participation is actually up (so it's not that the rate is declining because people are simply leaving the workforce). The difference is that the vast majority of jobs are low skill, meaning that if another firm will offer a better deal, it's very easy for employees to simply walk. If you wanted to get _a_ job, you'd easily be able to.

Wages, however, are not growing at the same rate, which is probably more related to your experience.


Morally, I would do the traditional notice ( 2 weeks at least ), because I try to "honor everyone".. but this would be harder if I had a bad boss and could start somewhere else immediately. I'd still probably do my best to make sure everyone is taken care of.

As with bad service at a restaurant, I still leave a normal tip, because it reflects more on me than on the server.


Remote work puts a spin on this. If someone is remote and not logging in, there's just not much to do about it for the employer. Is the person ill? Are they just using the flexibility to work at different times? Should you keep paying them?


I heard stories of a guy who did this; was local, then went remote, and then didn't vpn in for months. There was a whole story around it, but ended up taking management a few more months to get him fired. This was a process heavy company obviously. But this AWOL person made at least 6 months of salary for not doing a damn thing.


I'm seeing this right now. Worse, he is doing a minimum thing so he won't get fired outright (e.g. responding to internal chat many many hours late with a single word "yup").


I have seen that before with a contractor. After two weeks of silence I assumed he was done.


I had a buddy (I'll call him Alex) with whom I've worked with at several contracting gigs. Good guy, and has gotten me some pretty lucrative roles, but drama followed the guy wherever he went. I've worked with him on at least five short term contracts roles. Every single one he ghosted for one reason or another.

First one - We were both hired as FED's. It was at a large corporation. We got about a week in and he tells me was put on active duty (he was in the Army) and just ghosted. Never told the manager, myself, nobody. Manager starts pressing me because the recruiter can't get a hold of him. I tell the manager I don't have any contact info for him and told the manager he told me he got put back on active duty.

Second one - "Hey bud, we're together again at XYZ company!!" Was the email I got from him over LinkedIN. First day I ask the manager where he was as we were friends and worked together before. Manager says he has no idea where he is. Three days later, three more no calls/no shows. Disappears again. I can't get him on gmail chat, linkedin, nothing. Just gone again.

Third one - I recommended him to a hiring manager who was desperate for bodies. I wasn't happy, and told Alex this gig is a dumpster fire and not to take the gig. He didn't listen. Shows up the first day, gets his laptop, and is constantly at my desk, "Dude, why are they doing stuff this way? This is so stupid." Second day worked a half day and just left out the blue and that was it. Took his MacBook Pro with him and ghosted everybody again. I left a few weeks later so I'm not sure they ever got their laptop back.

Fourth one - He was already working at a cool gig and got me an interview and then I landed another FED role with him. The two projects they were banking on evaporated and got canceled. They started laying off people in droves. The area we sat in had maybe 25 contractors. Within a week, we were down to 12. After that first week, he figured he was next so he just stopped showing up, but he kept filling out his timesheet. Found out later they paid him for three weeks he never showed up for.

Last one - in 2013, we both were hired at this sweet startup. First month things are peachy. I figure maybe this is it, Alex finally got his shit together and he'll actually stick around. Nope. Second month, things started getting harder. Crunch time was coming around. Longer days, nose to the grindstone, all that. The following week Monday he's a NC/NS again. By Wednesday, I start hearing things. By Friday, in a 1:1 with my manager, he asks me if I can get a hold of Alex for him. I ask why. He tells me on Tuesday, he got a voicemail from Alex saying, "Loved working there, love you guys, but I'm fleeing the country, I'll mail my laptop back when I get to where I'm going." I just told the manager, "While that is pretty crazy, I'm not really surprised."

That was the last time I heard from until a recruiter called this year me asking about him because he was putting him in for an interview at one of the clients, a big Fortune 500 company. I honestly had no idea how to respond to the idea he could continue to be gainfully employed after all the shit he's pulled on multiple companies and multiple recruiters.


I've done this before for a job that wasn't worth the stress and hassle. Unplugged my phone and went out of town for a week. One of the best decisions I've ever made.


Did they pay you?


I honestly don’t remember lol. I think I got mailed a check but I must’ve blocked that whole time out of my memory.


What I've seen from working in an office floor of ~70 people:

- Ghosting is w/e but seems kinda petty or social awkward depending on the circumstance. People have ghosted before, and the office still went on pretty much as normal. It's only annoying to other employees when the person ghosting drops a huge unexpected load of work on their old coworkers or project team. Then it screws over innocent bystanders more than bosses.

- Employers/Employees sometimes try to go tit-for-tat on being an asshole to each other. Usually nobody wins in this case. Sometimes it gets quite childish where employees complain about bosses to management, then bosses come back and complain about employees, and there's a cycle of bitterness until one side wears down the other. Get out if that happens.

- Instances of asshole behavior:

1. There was an issue from upper management to a manager, who then passed off the project to his team. The manager and the team put in a lot of work on the project (stayed late some days to get a faster turnaround to the execs) saying this would make their team look really good. After the project was complete, the manager passed it over to the execs and basically took credit for the entire thing without giving individual acknowledgement to the team. Total dick move.

2. A guy was laid off, and decided to give the boss a piece of his mind. It went from "Yea!" to "Yikes.." At first he summarized what was wrong with the workplace, which was cool. However, then it got into a diatribe about how personally awful the boss and management are. A lot of insults were said. He said the boss's daughter (who was a part-time intern) was a "slut-looking nepotistic dumbass", then pushed a bunch of stuff off a desk and said he would "mail, ring, and email" the boss everyday to tell him how terrible he was until he killed himself. Funny thing was after this was over, the guy left and put his hand up for a high-five from his coworkers like "I showed him!".

3. Another person really didn't like their job roles, and thought they would be totally different based on the interviews. He ended up taking another job a few months after being hired, but not before deleting all of his work and a repository that took hours to restore as a sort of "F U" for wasting his time with work he wasn't interested in doing. That was actually super annoying, and all of us remembered that guy for it.

4. Corporate "trialed" no timesheets by doing data analysis on badge detections to tell when employees were coming/leaving instead. It took no time before people realized it's a malicious convenience offering, and it was (supposedly) ended. The corporate thought behind it was pretty disrespectful and micro-managing.

Bonus: One time a manager and employee were fired for working together to sell credit card numbers from legitimate B2B sales on the darkweb as a "side hustle".


How come employers can't blacklist these badly behaving employees who don't give any notice before they quit?

Because government regulations only allows past employers to verify that 1) yes the employee worked here 2) this was his job title and 3) these are the date ranges when he worked. Telling anything about "was he a good employee or not" is grounds for a lawsuit.

That has removed incentives for employees to give notice before they quit.




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