‘Quiet firing’: How employers and workers can address this latest business trend

Social media platforms have been buzzing with memes, stories and posts lately about “quiet quitting” — and FOX Business has reported on it extensively.

That’s when employees do the bare minimum at work, performing only their assigned tasks — and not one bit more.

Now, a new trend is emerging related to office dynamics — and it’s called “quiet firing.”

What is quiet firing?

Here’s the concept of “quiet firing” in a nutshell: Employers may intentionally make their employees’ day-to-day work life harder in the hope that these people eventually will quit.

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Said Peter “PJ” Jackson, CEO of Bluescape in San Francisco, “‘Quiet firing’ is when employers actively seek to make working conditions miserable or divest time, resources or opportunities from their employees — ultimately pushing [those] workers to resign as opposed to outright firing them.”

“Quiet firing” is the latest workplace buzzword. It’s when employers intentionally make their employees’ work life harder in the hope that these individuals will quit. (iStock/iStock)

Motivations for “quiet firing” can run the gamut, from simply not liking someone to a myriad of other reasons, according to employment experts.

“I have seen managers ‘quietly firing’ their staff,” Stacie Haller, a career expert with ResumeBuilder, based in Boston, told FOX Business.

“They do so for many reasons,” she continued.

This includes “their [own] confrontational behavior,” she said. “But many managers do this so that the employee will quit — and then the company does not have to pay unemployment.”

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She also said managers may pursue a “quiet firing” for reasons related to perception.

She said bosses “may want to look like they are giving the employee a chance to be more engaged” or look like they are giving the person a viable performance plan. Yet they “ultimately want the employee to leave the position,” Haller said.

note that fires an employee

If employees believe they are the target of a “quiet firing,” they should consider asking the boss for a meeting to get to the root of the issue. (iStock/iStock)

A manager may take away a leadership role in meetings, change or deny work or remote hours and promotions and raises, she said — and “generally make [the employee] not feel part of the team.”

How can ‘quiet firing’ hurt American businesses?

Haller believes quiet firing can hurt companies and their reputation if employees are fired in a passive-aggressive way.

Since nearly every industry was hit by either the Great Resignation or layoffs, a passive-aggressive mindset can cost US businesses resources and money.

“Employees are looking for direct, honest communications with their managers — and having a culture of passive-aggression hurts all concerned,” she said.

“Other employees may get concerned, not totally understanding the situation, and [this] can create anxiety among the organization.”

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Additionally, since nearly every industry was hit by either the Great Resignation or layoffs, a passive-aggressive mindset can cost US businesses resources and money.

“It’s no secret that hiring and training is expensive, both in cost and time,” said Jackson of San Francisco.

working from home

If workers notice they’re “falling into the trap of being quietly fired, I strongly recommend they set up a face-to-face conversation with their boss, preferably in-person if they are in the office, but over Zoom if they are still remote,” said one e (iStock/iStock)

“Companies are looking to be strategic in where they’re resourcing,” she also said.

“The organizations and leaders that can ‘hack’ into these points will not only save costs on talent attraction and skills-building, but will be set up to better compete industry-wide.”

How can employees fight the issue?

If workers believe they’re the target of a “quiet firing” situation, they should consider asking their managers for a meeting to get to the root of the issue.

“An employer who has a people-focused mindset will make it a priority to listen to their employees and ensure that everyone feels supported and happy at work.”

“If employees notice that they’re falling into the trap of being quietly fired, I strongly recommend they set up a face-to-face conversation with their boss or manager before things get worse,” Leslie Tarnacki, senior vice president of human resources at WorkForce Software in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, told FOX Business.

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This meeting should be “preferably in-person if they are in the office, but over Zoom if they are still remote,” said Tarnacki.

Woman sits at interview desk

Employees can discuss their value with an employer and express how they’ve been feeling at work and relaying their concerns, said one expert. (iStock/iStock)

Having these discussions, said Tarnacki, may allow employees to get everything out on the table.

They can express how they’ve been feeling, relay their concerns, discuss their workload (whether it’s too much or too little) and share any worries related to burnout or other issues.

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Employee can also discuss their value and why they feel they deserve a promotion or salary increase — and more.

(The timings of some of these discussions are critical, as many large companies have a set time of the year in which managers can discuss or entertain promotions, raises or bonuses, employment experts note.)

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“It’s important to remember that employers who have a people-focused mindset will make it a priority to listen to their employees and ensure that everyone in the organization feels supported and happy at work,” Tarnacki said.

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