A growing number of employees are ghosting their employers when it comes time to quit their jobs. More and more employees aren’t legally required to provide their employers with written resignation notices at least two weeks prior to leaving. Instead, many are simply submitting text resignations when they don’t show up for work, or even making it impossible to be contacted. With this trend of “ghosting” on the rise, it’s a good time to reflect on the potential repercussions of this choice. Is ghosting employers ever acceptable?

Why Are People Ghosting Their Employers?

The nation’s low unemployment rate has made it easy to find better opportunities in a short amount of time. So, many employees are eliminating the extra steps of a lengthy formal resignation. Ghosting allows employees who are quitting the chance to avoid an often-difficult conversation with their boss. This awkward conversation usually involves a lengthy explanation where employees often say too much, and employers may ask too many probing questions of the employee. Resigning could also lead to being terminated on the spot or being subjected to a hostile work environment in the final two weeks. And of course, resigning also gives way to the possibility of a counteroffer which many employees wish to avoid.

What are the Downsides to Ghosting?

Some might just say that it’s generally bad karma. Why create a negative reputation in your professional life? In a global economy, it truly is a small world. Ghosting will almost certainly burn professional bridges, and the consequences can follow you in your career. Instead of receiving a good reference from an employer you will probably only get neutral feedback that confirms your title and employment dates. Some other potential drawbacks of ghosting include that you will most likely forfeit any remaining paid time off that you’ve accrued with your current employer, and you probably won’t qualify for unemployment benefits either. It also puts a strain on any remaining communication you need to have with the human resources department of your former company.

Extenuating Circumstances

Providing an advance resignation notice is still the expected common courtesy in the professional world. Yet, there are some reasons why it might be acceptable to ghost your employer. For instance, leaving a job without notice is typically advised in situations where employees are being harassed or bullied by their supervisors or coworkers. If you’re ever asked to do anything unethical or illegal, then it’s also in your best interest to leave sooner rather than later. If you’ve communicated any of these issues with your human resources department, and they’ve failed to provide any solutions, then there’s really nothing that can stop you from walking out the door.

So, whether the pros of ghosting outweigh the cons is left up to your personal view on professionalism and where you are in your own career. Even though some employment agreements stipulate financial penalties for leaving a job early, most states have at-will employment regulations that enable either the employer or the employee to sever the relationship with no advance notice or cause.


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Photo credit: Aaron Mello, Unsplash