Is Ghosting Better Than Quiet Quitting?

Ghosting Gen Z Quiet Quitting STEERus training

by Amrit & Loralyn

This article was just published on LinkedIn on 3-Nov-2022 HERE.



  • Lots of stats on ghosting and quiet quitting

  • How these behaviors are killing productivity and employee retention

  • What to do about it


And you thought it was safe to go back into the water? ????

Nope. Just as employers and employees felt they had come to terms with COVID-19. And they reconciled that returning to the office (at least some of the time) was inevitable, adjusted to The Great Resignation with the new pace of work, things took a dark turn. Again!

Ghosting has gotten so bad that you now have less than a 30% chance that the person you make a job offer to will be with you five months later. Hundreds of companies were surveyed and 70% of them said that their new hires were routinely ghosting them within less than six months of receiving a job offer.

That’s bananas! ????It’s anything but cost-effective. Not to mention the impact that the recruiting and onboarding treadmill has on morale.

Bottom line? It is ALL ABOUT the bottom line and ghosting is spooking the marketplace. And maybe even the economy …

What is ghosting?

The term ghosting comes from the dating world but now it is being extensively used in the professional realm. Ghosting happens when someone suddenly stops responding to your messages. They, for all intents and purposes, disappear and “fall off the grid.”

Here is an example of ghosting:

Jennifer is a recruiter for a finance company. She needed to hire an accountant for the accounts receivable department of the company and one candidate, Philip, aced all four rounds of the interview and testing process. He seemed perfect – almost too good to be true, in fact.

Philip stood out head and shoulders over the other candidates. He was slightly overqualified and yet, he showed great interest in joining the company because of the growth avenues it provides. He had previously worked in a similar company, so he had the appropriate experience, knew the buzz words, and appeared to be keen to get started. He loved the compensation package with all the “extra perks” that were now standard given 2022 labor shortages.

After she did her first zoom with Philip, Jennifer stopped interviewing other candidates. She got all the paperwork done even before he finished the testing or interviewing with other members of her team. She obtained the required security clearance, then spoke to the managers under whom Philip would be working. Everyone was excited to bring him on board.

Less than two weeks after their first zoom call, he was slated to come into the office on a Monday morning. Jennifer arranged a welcome lunch with all the leadership team for his first day plus the prerequisite onboarding training – you know – all that payroll, passport verification, health insurance benefits sort of stuff.

They were a small’ish company, so they didn’t really have any onboarding training beyond that basic laptop set up and login process. Everyone in the office pretty much assumed that new hires were adults and experienced enough to roll up their sleeves and dig in – without a lot of handholding. Okay, none but that’s a story for another blog.

At 10:30 Monday morning she received a call from Jim, the head of their accounts receivable department. Apparently, Philip hadn’t showed up. At least not yet.

She quickly checked her email to see if he had sent a message. Nope. No voice mail either. Jennifer’s “maternal instincts” kicked in – she was hoping that he hadn’t been hurt in a car accident or something on his way in.

She called him. There was no answer. She texted him. There was no response. She emailed him. Nothing.

Now, she was really worried. Was he sick? COVID? Had he been mugged? She kept calling him every hour without success.

On a whim, just before leaving office at 6:30 PM, she looked him up on Instagram. He had posted a picture at 11:17 AM with the caption “Check out my new gig. Talk about an awesome office job.” She was tempted, but restrained herself, and did not post the Rage❗Turd  ????Swearing ????emojis – but she really, really  wanted to.

She had been ghosted ???? by Philip.

HERE IS THE SCARY PART – 80% of Gen Z surveyed by The Muse say that they support quitting a job in 3-6 months if they don’t like it. And they don’t feel that they have to tell their boss that they quit – it’s okay to just stop working for them.

When an employee suddenly goes incommunicado after clearing all the interviews, or even after joining, when s/he/they suddenly disappears and stops coming in, that’s ghosting.


Until a few years ago, ghosting was limited to the exclusive domain of dating apps. But, with abundant career opportunities available to job seekers, employers are now on the receiving end. The biggest price is the one paid by recruiters and HR managers who invest lots of time and money in finding qualified candidates for jobs, only to be ghosted at the last moment. Currently, according to a survey done by SHRM in October 2022, on average, it now takes 52 days and $4,129 to recruit a junior employee. Let’s not forget that salaries are now 20% higher than they were last year…

Gen Z quiet quitting ghosting

Photo source =

If we do a little math, we can get a sense of how BIG this problem is. Today’s average salary is $57,000 where ghosting rates are at 70%. In the span of one year, an employer should be prepared to spend about 1.5-2x the salary offered in turnover costs including nearly $13,000 recruiting for the same position and rotating through at least three candidates who onboard and “become part of the team” – well, at least for a few months.

But the REAL toll is the chunk that it takes out of morale. The managers. The HR personnel. Think about the impact on them …

The problem is widely manifest among Gen Z. Countless blogs and studies show that this cohort is more comfortable – perhaps more so than any previous generation – with putting themselves first. Setting boundaries does not appear to be challenging for Gen Z. The rationale behind ghosting is that people will just give up trying to contact you, which is exactly what happens.

What is Quiet Quitting?

Quiet quitting is akin to the Chinese term “tang ping”; also called “lying flat.” It’s a movement that began in Japan, spread across Asia (despite China’s efforts to squash it), then jumped across the Pacific into the USA. Here, the movement has taken hold as “anti-work.” The essence is the resistance to work pressure and pushing yourself just so that you can buy a house or a car – or even date someone!

Quiet quitting doesn’t mean that you go up to your boss, and, using your lowest voice and whisper “I quit” so that you’re almost inaudible. Nope. That’s not quiet quitting. And it’s not new, either.

A lot of blogs and news hullaballoo have been touting quiet quitting as a “new” phenomenon. Hogwash! It’s been around for decades – only we used to call it “slacking.” Now, of course, “slacking” is a verb currently associated with the popular messaging and collaboration software tool.

Quiet quitting refers to doing just enough – or putting in just slightly less effort – for what the job requires. Nothing more, not too little to get fired, but eek it out just enough to get by. Quiet quitters NEVER work outside of office hours. Elon Musk, whatever your opinions are about him, is DEFINITELY not a fan of quiet quitting or slackers. In fact, within days of acquiring Twitter, he told staff that he expects  84-hour work weeks. ????

Elon Must Twitter work

Photo source = Twitter @steerus_io

On the surface, there should be no problems with productivity. In the ideal world, employees shouldn’t be overworked; perhaps there will be the occasional (even exceptional) spike with a big launch or something out of the ordinary that requires extra hours. But overtime shouldn’t be a standard requirement. If people need to work longer, they should be appropriately compensated for all the extra effort they put in.

Employees, understandably, resent the fact that they are being overworked and underpaid. It’s precisely this volatile combination that fueled The Great Resignation. People are often made to do work that is beyond their current responsibilities, without any recognition or compensation for all that “extra” they’re doing and how they’re filling the gap that Jane Doe left when she jumped ship.

No work-life balance remains. There is no positive stimulation. Even during personal times, some workers are expected to be available via email, text, Slack, MSFT Teams, or whatever DM of choice their employer uses.

Although conditions in the US are not as extreme as they are in China, Gen Z collectively feels that it is being short-changed. They are, rightfully, into fair pay for fair work. The problem is that there is a huuuuuuge delta between what they think is fair pay and what executives think is fair pay. Given that discrepancy, many workers tend to shrug off extra responsibilities and embrace doing the bare minimum; and sometimes, even not that.

Employers complain that Gen Z simply doesn’t want to learn or put in the extra effort needed for their professional development and to advance their careers. Gen Z is holding firm, unphased by what their employers want, and ready to quiet quit or ghost them if they don’t like their jobs, their manager, the leadership, or their employer.

If everybody works within the box, we stay within the box. If we don’t walk the extra mile, how are we going to cover the additional distance to get ahead of the others – assuming that’s even still the game? In a typical job environment, responsibilities cannot be fitted like a jigsaw puzzle. “To each, his/her/their own” as they say. Everything should be a personal choice.

Why is Gen Z quiet quitting?

This Forbes article says that Gen Z cannot be completely blamed for the quiet quitting movement. Millions of employees are coping with exhaustion, burnout, and a highly protracted period of uncertainty ever since that nasty little virus surfaced. The pandemic has “gotten old” for all of us – it hasn’t made front-page news in nearly a year!

There is economic and geopolitical uncertainty. Although jobs are in abundance, in many sectors, there are staffing shortages. The members of Gen Z are working remotely and hence, mostly in isolation. Studies are just surfacing that showcase how damaging that can be to mental health and retention. Plus, there is rampant inflation.

Admittedly, there is also less tolerance for having to work outside the purview of responsibilities. People don’t want to tax their minds and bodies – to what end? They are more dialed into the importance of quality of life. They put their personal lives ahead of their professional lives.

The problem is that this can create internal conflict. You know that you have responsibilities (that’s why you get a paycheck). But you may not be jazzed about your work or your boss. So, you don’t push yourself. When everyone in the office is in that mode, it affects morale and certainly kills productivity – even if you’re not openly griping about how much you hate your job, people notice. Our body language and words have many “tells” that others queue into.

American businesses are losing $1.8 Trillion (yes, that’s a T) each year in productivity costs. Current employee turnover rates are at a staggering 57%. In 2019, Gallup estimated turnover costs to exceed $1 Trillion (yes, that’s another T) for American businesses.


What is better? Ghosting or quiet quitting?

Um, for starters, neither is good. From the perspective of employers, ghosting is better than quiet quitting. Ghosting is a one-time mental and financial cost, but quiet quitting can be an ongoing cost both in terms of quality of work, money spent on salaries, benefits, office space, employee training, and the seemingly invisible toll that it takes on morale and corporate culture – until it’s too late and totally obvious.

Productivity levels are a major concern for company executives. Year-on-year fall in productivity in non-farming sectors has fallen almost 2.5% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Arianna Huffington equates quiet quitting with “the step toward quitting on life.” There’s a divide growing between older folks who tend to look at quiet quitting with disfavor whereas younger folks tend to look at it as standard behavior, “NBD” – no big deal, as they say.

Quiet quitting sleep work napping

Photo Source =

But there’s more to it. If you’re going to slog through 7.5 hours every day without feeling any enthusiasm, sense of attachment, or connection, it is going to kill your spirit. It may even have negative consequences on your physical and mental health, as well as your home-life and personal relationships. It’s unlikely that you will have any desire to grow in your career. Nobody wins – not the clients you serve, not your co-workers, not your bosses, and certainly not your employer. If you can tap into meaningful work, it will make all the difference.

Therefore, in a job, if you feel that you need to resort to quiet quitting, it is better that you exit stage left. In an ideal world, you would bring professionalism and emotional intelligence to the forefront and formally inform your boss that you are leaving the organization and offer two weeks’ notice. If not, opt for ghosting …

How to minimize quiet quitting

Gen Z is admirably protective of their mental health. They are more aware of the need to live a meaningful life and not to submerge themselves completely under the banner of professional obligations. Unlike previous generations, the members of Gen Z believe that life shouldn’t be lived just for the sake of working – there is too much that is ”super awesome” and deserves to be experienced. That takes us way beyond professional work. Everyone knows that pressure and stress negatively impact health and well-being.

This is something you need to pay heed to as an employer. Instead of criticizing Gen Z (or anyone for that matter) as “lazy,” take the opportunity to reach out. Be patient and LISTEN. Be a conscious leader. Ask them where the gap is between what they expected and what they’re experiencing. Sometimes simply listening can go a long way in motivating your employees – but you need to be authentic about it. Don’t be glib!

You can also give them a sense of purpose. Clearly communicate to them the company’s purpose, vision, and values, and explore how their own vision and values may be aligned with those of the company. Find other projects for them to do. Host internal networking efforts. Foster mentorship occasions – even if they’re informal. Invest in corporate training. Regular workshops and orientation programs can be conducted to achieve that – especially for those first 30 days after the new hire joins. That’s our specialty at STEERus!

Thirdly, focus on their physical, emotional, financial, and social well-being needs. Research shows that 30% of US workers are struggling financially. 43% struggle while meeting even basic needs. 62% feel burned out from work (source). This can adversely affect their overall productivity. With many employees working remotely, communication has suffered further. Studies have shown that communication over emails and chats is 34x less effective than face-to-face interactions.

Develop and implement a strategy to communicate clearly to your employees so that they are reassured, properly heard, respected, and understood. Make them feel like they are connected to your organization. And if you don’t know how, ask – STEERus can help!


HEADER photo source = Pedro Figueras


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