When you feel like your boss has been dumping more responsibilities on you lately, picking on you about everything, and making it clear to you that your work is not satisfying to him or her, you may have become a victim of what’s called quiet firing. What does this term mean and why do employers prefer to keep some workers away rather than approach them and sort the troubling issue out? Read on to find out!

Quiet firing – table of contents:

  1. To say that I am dismissing you without telling
  2. Signs to watch out
  3. Why do leaders use the quiet firing method?
  4. What to do when you suspect you are a victim of quiet firing?
  5. How to avoid quiet firing?

To say that I am dismissing you without telling

We speak of quiet firing when managers provide only the bare minimum of working conditions. By doing so, they want to let employees know that they should leave the company. At the same time, the superiors refrain from confrontation and perhaps the conflicts that could result. The atmosphere becomes toxic, completely unacceptable, and is considered a passive-aggressive tactic.

This is a fairly new trend, which we heard about loudly thanks to social media in 2022, but such situations have also happened before. The first mention of this came in a tweet from @randy_miller, who mentioned on August 16, 2022, that there is a lot of talk about quiet quitting but still not much about the quiet firing, which we also have to deal with.

Signs to watch out

Lack of development

Employees who contribute a lot to the company and devote their time to the organization want recognition. Still, when you see that you are making an effort and your career is still stagnant, while your co-workers are getting promoted, it may mean quite firing.

The name missing from the schedule

When you’ve always had several days spread out in your schedule and have been present for virtually every shift, yet for some time now your supervisor hasn’t included you when creating your schedule or has been giving you the bare minimum.

No conversation about career development

A raise that never comes? A change of position or promotion? Dealing with an employee who is doomed to go anyway is a common practice. The manager does not want to talk to you about these issues, as he or she knows about your termination. The employee feels frustrated, decides to look for a new job, and leaves the company.

Disposing of employees

Putting employees on hold is also a common practice. They will not hear a clear answer or even a refusal on any issue. Instead, they keep getting “not now I’m busy” for an answer.

Lack of engaging duties

Work can get boring at times. What’s more, you may get to do tasks you consider tedious like filling out documents or reports. Still, what if it is always on you that the most difficult, worst tasks fall, while others get interesting and developing jobs?

No increase or a low increase

Coworkers usually small-talk but occasionally they discuss financial issues. Sooner or later you will find out that the others got a high raise, while you only got a few percent or none at all.

Of course, the situation doesn’t always mean that you are a victim of quiet firing. Perhaps the boss doesn’t have time to talk about a raise right now as the absence of your name from the schedule is a pure coincidence. However, if these occasions become a routine you have a right to suspect that this is not a coincidence.

Sadly, this approach has lingered on in some companies for a long time – now it only has a name. Employees who get that kind of treatment feel isolated and left alone. In addition, their self-esteem drops, and they consider themselves incompetent and unworthy of holding their position. Consequently, they hand in notice fires making superiors don’t have to worry about a severance package or development plan.

Why do leaders use the quiet firing method?

The most obvious reason is they can dismiss workers without having to confront a difficult conversation. Still, a competent manager should face it instead of letting it cool off by itself. Sometimes there are also financial considerations that matter. Employees who hand in the notice will not get a severance package. However, when the company dismisses them, it has to incur an additional cost. In addition, people who have many years of experience in the company usually earn more.

Still, companies too often replace them with fresh and inexperienced workers who get much less salary. Such layoffs also cut costs. Unfortunately, these days the rule reigns that there are no irreplaceable people.

quiet firing

What to do when you suspect you are a victim of quiet firing?

The best way is to speak out. Unfortunately, only a few people will find the courage to defy their superiors and some managers cannot engage in a meaningful dialogue. Still, it’s always worth your while. As you keep your cool and express clearly your doubts, hard feelings, and the impact of tension or distance, you’ll receive straightforward justification or a sincere answer at last. Your assumptions will face reality check and vanish lifting the burden off your shoulders. You will also enhance your reputation as a strong and outspoken individual.

You can also go to the HR department. Remember that they have and should give you more precise information. If you stay factual and give specific circumstances that have cast doubts they will certainly provide you with sound answers.

It is also worth mentioning here that mistreatment or lack of promotion does not necessarily quiet firing. It may concern mismanagement within the company. How do you know this? Most often, mismanagement takes place when the disagreement entails more than one employee. Nevertheless, if after talking to your co-workers or conducting a clandestine investigation you conclude that the issue concerns apply only to you, then, unfortunately, it may be quite firing.

How to avoid quiet firing?

Above all, whatever happens, do your best and show an ambitious attitude. No one is safe from falling victim to dismissal, so you shouldn’t blame yourself if it happens to you. Remember to meet deadlines and constantly stay on top of all activities. Building good relationships with co-workers as well as superiors may come in handy too. There is no denying that managers will side with those who they have a good rapport with and respect than with some anonymous employee. Nonetheless, always have a plan B, just in case.

Stay up to date with what’s going on in the industry, excel in knowledge as well as keep track of your competitors’ job offers. That should provide a sense of security that becomes priceless when you happen to fall victim to quiet firing.

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Author: Nicole Mankin

HR manager with an excellent ability to build a positive atmosphere and create a valuable environment for employees. She loves to see the potential of talented people and mobilize them to develop.