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What Is Job Abandonment?

What Is Job Abandonment?

What Is Job Abandonment?

Job abandonment is usually pretty easy to identify: someone abandons their job when they no-call and no-show repeatedly.

Job abandonment isn’t when someone misses a few days and then calls their boss with a reasonable, evidence-supported explanation. Someone who abandons their job doesn’t call to explain they’re quitting. It’s true ghosting, or ceasing all communication without explanation or recourse. 

Ghosting is real in the workplace, and more common than you think. While it affects some industries more than others (I’m looking at you, service industry), businesses in every sector have experienced it.  

However, it’s important to note that some instances of job abandonment are not the fault of the employee. Remain cautious if you suspect an employee of job abandonment. Be sure to evaluate the employee’s record of attendance, which you should be able to do easily if you have a time and attendance system. Also, review the employee’s one-to-one or performance notes, if you have them, so you can see if the employee was a flight risk before their disappearance.  

Once you have the necessary information, wait a predetermined amount of time to declare the role abandoned. If the employee is sick or otherwise indisposed, you don’t want to terminate them due to job abandonment after only two days and then have them show up a week later, fresh from the hospital, anxious for their livelihood.


Why Do People Abandon Their Jobs?

People have varied reasons for abandoning their jobs. Here are some reasons you may hear often: 

  • “It wasn’t what I expected.” 
  • “It was too hard.” 
  • “I found something better.”  
  • “I hated working there.”
  • “I didn’t know how to quit, so I just stopped going in.” 


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What Should Employers Do When An Employee Abandons Their Job?

So if an employee stops showing up and stops responding to attempted contact, you should officially terminate and offboard them.  

Termination will wipe the slate clean so you can begin the process of hiring and training someone new who hasn’t damaged their reputation within your organization. It could cost employers time and money to chase after employees who clearly don’t value their place within the organization.  

However, there are exceptions to the terminate now, ask questions later! route.  

If someone stops showing up and doesn’t respond to any attempts at contact, then managers should bring it to your attention so you can take action. Try calling emergency numbers or checking social media if applicable, and decide based on the particular factors of your situation if termination is the next step.  


How to Prevent Job Abandonment

Preventing job abandonment may not be totally possible, but you can certainly leverage your HR position to mitigate the factors that lead to job abandonment. 

Here are some steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of job abandonment at your organization:  

  1. Use a Culture Guide to outline the expectations of attendance.  
  2. Ensure you don’t mistake a more serious situation for job abandonment. Create a policy inviting employees to provide their employer with emergency contact information. If you must resort to contacting the emergency number on file, you can determine if the cause of absence is job abandonment or is due to injury, illness, or another justifiable reason. 
  3. Identify the most frequent reasons for job abandonment. Former employees may not reach out to share their reasons for leaving, but you can ask their team for insight to try and establish a pattern. If people often disappear after working a specific shift, then you can investigate what’s so bad about that particular shift that drives employees away. 
  4. Make expectations clear in the interview process that job abandonment is not tolerated. If you witness this often, then an impactful reminder before extending an offer may drive home how serious you are about only recruiting reliable people.  
  5. Have regular meetings with managers and ask about their direct reports. Review meeting notes between managers and direct reports to see if certain people are gearing up to leave. If someone is often absent unreasonably, it may raise red flags that they are more likely to abandon their job. 
  6. Check-in with new hires often during their onboarding process. A weak onboarding process is the cause of many cases of job abandonment, which might indicate it’s time for you to get involved and fix the underlying cause of job abandonment-related turnover.  

There are other ways to prevent job abandonment, and many of them lie within the realm of performance management. You can take our free course on the topic to get an edge over this issue. 


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Additional Resources

You can stay informed, educated, and up to date with important HR topics using BerniePortal’s comprehensive resources:

  • BernieU—free online HR courses, approved for SHRM and HRCI recertification credit
  • BerniePortal Blog—a one-stop shop for HR industry news
  • HR Glossary—featuring the most common HR terms, acronyms, and compliance
  • Resource Library—essential guides covering a comprehensive list of HR topics
  • HR Party of One—our popular YouTube series and podcast, covering emerging HR trends and enduring HR topics 

Till asked, "How do you remind people to use PTO? Or avoid them using it all at  the same time?" See if you can help her out!

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