Recognizing the Signs of Quiet Firing
Published: Nov 29, 2023
Although the term might be relatively new, quiet firing is a tactic that has been used by employers ever since the concept of work came into existence. When a company doesn’t want to outright terminate an employee or employees, it might find ways to make the work environment so uncomfortable that it causes said employee or employees to quit of their own volition.
A company that engages in quiet firing might do so for a number of reasons. Most simply, a company might be trying to avoid having difficult conversations associated with terminating an employee. In another scenario a company may accidentally engage in quiet firing through consistently bad management, leading to increased employee turnover.
Perhaps the most egregious reason for quiet firing is money. Yes friends, companies will engage in quiet firing in hopes of ridding themselves of employees without having to pay for severance packages or unemployment benefits. The bottom line is, quiet firing is never okay, regardless of a company’s reasons or whether it’s intentional or not. Now then, let’s get into some of the signs of quiet firing.
You’re Being Excluded
If you’re starting to notice that you’re being left out of meetings or major projects, it could be a sign of quiet firing. Along with this, your tasks and responsibilities might be getting assigned to other employees, leaving you with less and less to do over time. Other things to watch out for are your boss suddenly avoiding you or giving short, disingenuous answers to your questions, or if you’re not being invited to team-building activities outside of work. In certain cases, your work station might be moved far away from the rest of the team, making it difficult for you to interact with coworkers.
Lack of Support or Mobility
A good company will recognize the achievements of its employees, whether it’s through positive feedback, a raise, or a promotion. Companies that are engaging in quiet firing might instruct management to forgo performance reviews, or they might decide to hire outsiders rather than promoting from within. If you’re noticing your interactions with your boss are few and far between, or that your boss has suddenly stopped providing feedback, it could be a sign of a larger problem.
A common method of quiet firing is purposefully overworking an employee or employees until burnout. Management might assign the targeted employee with tasks that are extremely difficult and time consuming in an effort to set them up for failure. In addition to this, management might make an employee stay late to work on never-ending, complex projects in order to consume as much of their personal time as possible. Over time, this will erode the employee’s morale, causing them to quit.
Counterproductive Policies and Processes
A company that is attempting to quiet fire an employee or employees might implement new policies that are needlessly complex, or it might introduce new processes that are purposefully annoying and aggravating. For example, the company might make it difficult for an employee to file a complaint against management, or it could force salaried employees to go through a time-consuming and unnecessary sign-in/sign-out process each day.
Whether a company is doing it intentionally or not, micromanagement is a common reason for high employee turnover. Micromanagement creates a nightmare situation for employees in which they can’t focus on a task without their boss hovering over their shoulder, or work is constantly halted because of frequent, lengthy instructions or changes to working processes. Management knows how annoying micromanagement is, so if it’s being done on purpose, you can bet the company is trying to push people out the door.
Fairness in the workplace is incredibly important. For example, each employee should receive equal treatment when it comes to feedback and support, and they should share the same potential for raises and promotions. Companies who are quiet firing might single an employee out by ignoring their achievements and diminishing their contributions. In very serious cases, a single employee might become the target of a manager’s aggressions.
It’s important to remember that when it comes to quiet firing, you’re looking for patterns. If you’re overlooked for a promotion or you find yourself taking on a task that is more difficult than you’re used to, it shouldn’t be anything to worry about. It’s when certain negative behaviors persist that you should consider whether your employer is engaging in quiet firing. There is absolutely no justification for quiet firing, and a company that tries to quiet fire its employees is as toxic as they come. If you’ve found yourself in this situation, the best thing to do is start looking for other avenues of employment before things get worse.