It seems there is a lot of ‘quietness’ going on under the radar in the modern workplace. But ‘Quiet Fired’, you ask?
Yes, that’s right. Sure, we have all heard of ‘Quiet Quitting’ by now, which refers to an employee that works within defined work hours, engaging in work-related activities solely within those hours, doing precisely what the job requires but nothing more. Just enough to keep their place in the company, providing a way to create boundaries between employees’ work and personal lives. But, the new term ‘Quiet Firing’ has started to trend within recent months.
And what is it? Well, to put it simply, there has been a great increase of managers and people in authority who have started to remove responsibilities, status, connection to others, and more, in an attempt to get the employee to quit. ‘Quiet Firing’ therefore stands for the intentional distancing of a manager from their employees, for example by obstructing their participation in special projects, or hindering their chances for a promotion or raise. While this new term can be viewed as a response to employees quietly quitting their jobs, employees may well have quietly quit as a result of suspecting their boss trying to quietly fire them.
According to a recent poll on LinkedIn, many people admitted they have either seen or experienced being quietly fired. Leslie Tarnacki, senior vice president of human resources at WorkForce Software, explains that quiet firing happens when an employer may or may not have a specific reason to exit an employee from the business and takes actions that make that person’s job unpleasant or unrewarding in order to get an employee to leave on his or her own terms.
Do you suspect this might be happening to you? Check the 5 signs you are being ‘quiet fired’.
Stuck In The Same Routine
While to some extent, every job can feel banal and repetitive at times, has this become more noticeable to you recently? Always assigned the same routine tasks, never asked for help on something important, or you feel as though your hopes of progression and career development are stuck in the mud? Maybe you are continuously passed over for promotions and salary rises, and can’t quite understand why it is that other employees are being elevated at a faster pace. This could be a sign of quiet firing, as managers might not be granting you the work you deserve or are capable of, in an attempt to push you out of the company.
You Don’t Feel Valued
Once in a while, it feels good to get some positive feedback at work. Whether it be a small project that did well, or a larger achievement you succeeded in carrying out. A little bit of reassurance from those above goes a long way. If, on the other hand, you feel as though your manager or department coordinator doesn’t seem to trust in your skills, perhaps assigning greater and more challenging tech tasks to your colleagues of the same level, you might start to question your own competence. Of course, sometimes this could be down to sheer coincidence, but if you feel that you haven’t been delegated any new responsibility for a while, then this might be a sign you are being quietly fired.
Feedback is vital to supporting employees in a hybrid or remote environment, which as a tech employee you are most certainly familiar with by now. Limited face-to-face interactions between employees and managers can make it much easier for employees to get forgotten about, and ultimately become less involved in their work. If you are not being given constructive feedback on your assignments or projects, you feel as though your efforts are not being recognised, or perhaps you believe someone else is taking the credit for your work, this could be a sign of quiet firing. This kind of strategy, in which you are purposefully not being given information you need to succeed or excel in your role, will ultimately hold you back from flourishing in your chosen tech field.
Working Below Your Ability
If you are often given work that is below your skills and tech talent, or perhaps a project that somewhat isolates you from your colleagues or team, this might mean you are being quietly fired. A subtle way that managers can show you that they believe you are not performing well, by assigning you tasks which can be done by an entry-level employee, when perhaps you have been working there for several years and have completed more complex tasks for them in the past. We suggest requesting more work load, or asking if you can receive a more challenging task next time round. This will show your employer that you are willing to learn and grow, and perhaps, judging on their reaction, the outcome might be better than you ever could have imagined.
Are you consistently denied time off by your manager, even though your holiday days are piling up and it’s nearing the end of the year? Or your manager isn’t taking time to connect with you one-on-one. If this is a consistent issue—or if no check-ins are set at all—it could be a sign that the manager isn’t putting an effort into the relationship or investing time in your professional growth. Maybe you have even started to be picked on in team meetings, left off a calendar invite for key discussions or your opinions and ideas are dismissed. All these examples of unprofessional workplace culture are signs they might be trying to quietly fire you. By making you feel unsatisfied and unworthy of your place in the company through small scenarios such as these, it makes it much more likely you will go looking for another job as soon as you get the chance.
Why are managers quietly firing?
Now that you have the signs to look out for, it might also be useful to know why this trend has become so popular in recent months, and to know you are definitely not alone in this.
Managers may adopt this tactic for a variety of reasons. Those that lack confidence in their own leadership ability might be more likely to quietly fire employees, instead of sitting down and guiding their employee through their drawbacks. Instead, they hope their employees will completely lose interest in the job and leave on their own accord. On the other hand, busy or overworked managers might not have the time or patience to have these difficult conversations with their employees, and this seems like an easy way out.
How can you deal with this?
Managers should be able to give ongoing progressive feedback so as to teach employees and provide them the means necessary to grow and improve their skills. If meetings and feedback are available on a regular basis, there would be better performing employees, and much less need to fire them in the first place! Setting specific goals for employees, suggesting improvements, and allowing regular catch-ups and 1-1s can decrease the likelihood of both quiet quitting and quiet firing behaviors alike.
But, if this is not happening, then here are some ways you can deal with being quietly fired:
Try reaching out to your boss or manager to have a better understanding of why this could be happening to you. Perhaps it can be fixed!
If by this point you are certain that you might be being quietly fired, there might be a way to negotiate with your boss, so as to make the situation work out smoothly for both parties. For example, perhaps there is a reason why they cannot fire you the original way. For you, it might even be useful to clarify some final agreements with them, such as a pay package or a deal that involves giving you the time you need to find another job.
Ultimately, it is your career and your own mental health that are suffering as a result of this behaviour. If you are unable to solve things through the methods above, perhaps the best thing for you to do is take control of the situation and hand in your notice when the time feels right.
5 Signs You’re Being ‘Quiet Fired’: Final Thoughts
Ultimately, although many managers aren’t doing their best as coaches, and aren’t being transparent in communication about an employee’s performance, at KWAN, we believe that regardless of how a person is performing, quiet firing is not the answer for a strong culture or engaged workplace. It’s imperative for managers to make a conscious effort to spend individualised time with each team member to help them learn, grow and improve where needed. Transparency is something very valued at KWAN, and if you feel like you’re being quietly fired, we’re happy to help you find a new project.