Episode 86: How to avoid job abandonment


November 29th, 2022

16 mins 26 secs

Your Hosts

About this Episode

Today we’re talking about job abandonment -- something we’ve each seen a handful of times in our corporate careers. (Kat saw it more with people working in retail.)

We want you to know what job abandonment is, how to avoid it, and what the ripple effect can be when someone abandons their job.

What is job abandonment? Job abandonment is when you just disappear from work and nobody knows where you are for a certain period of time, even just a few days. It often leads to you losing your job.

When someone doesn’t show up without any notice, management and HR starts asking around. Then they call, email, text, Slack, and try to get in touch with someone any way they can. HR gets involved when they resort to using personal and emergency contact info to get in touch.

It’s a tough balance in trying to find the person and see that they are ok -- but you don’t want to set off too many alarm bells, just in case the whole thing was caused by a dead phone battery and an alarm not going off.

At a point when the job abandonment is suspected, the authorities may be called to do a wellness check, hospitals may be called to see if someone’s there, and if someone knows the person’s kid’s school, the school may be called to see if the family is ok. Before letting someone go for job abandonment, management and HR will try to find them and make sure they are ok.

Kat knew someone who just couldn’t deal with life and disconnected with their work. After trying to find them, the president of the company showed up at their house.

Job abandonments are very stressful for managers and HR people, even when the person turns up OK.The worry that happens when someone disappears is very real, and companies want to avoid invoking their job abandonment policy.

As the person who is managing your career, you do not want to be source of that stress and you want to be seen as responsible and reliable. If your company or manager doesn’t know that they can rely on you, your career in that role will be short-lived. And when you go to find your next job, it may be difficult to explain what happened if you simply burned your bridges and left.

To avoid this, we have some tips to avoid noncommunication and miscomunication with your workplace when you really just can't come in.

  1. Someone you know will be aware if something is happening to you. Make sure they also have your manager’s contact info.
  2. You don’t have to tell work everything about your personal life, just what you need to communicate what to expect. For example, " need to go on medical leave" or "I need to take a week of personal leave." That's enough.
  3. Crazy concept: your company doesn’t pay you to not show up. BUT this has happened to other people before you, and because of that, the company likely has policies in place to support you if you can’t work. And your country may also have labor laws that cover this as well. You need to communicate enough to make sure that your job is protected.
  4. Don’t be the person who causes angst for others, and don’t have your decisions cause angst and disruption for your team or for coworkers depending on you. If you need time off, ask for it and take it.
  5. When people disappear from their job, projects get derailed, trust gets broken, the rumor mill goes nuts, and colleagues get overloaded. Don’t be the person who made this happen. Communicate, don't just ghost.