Quiet Firing: Signs, Symptoms, and Suggestions for if it Happens to You

business woman getting fired
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Published On

November 23, 2022


Have you ever heard of quiet quitting? It's a phrase that's become more topical in the years following the pandemic, and describes when employees intentionally do the bare minimum of what their job requires. They're not actually quitting, but are actively disengaged.

All this talk about quiet quitting has sparked conversation around another related concept: quiet firing. Much like quiet quitting, this term can be deceiving as there is no outright firing involved. Quiet firing is when employers take measures that cause an employee to leave their position voluntarily. It's a new term to describe negative behavior that's existed for many years.

The term "quiet firing" was first brought to people's attention by a software developer on Twitter. It quickly gained popularity when a recruiting manager for a software company picked up the phrase and posted about it on LinkedIn.

Although the concept of quiet firing was first called out within software development, it unfortunately happens in many workplaces, regardless of the sector or industry. In a recent LinkedIn poll of 20,000 participants, 35% of workers report that they've experienced quiet firing themselves, and 48% report that they've witnessed it firsthand in their workplace.

With quiet firing affecting workers so frequently, you may be wondering how to identify if it's happening to you. While there isn't a definitive rule to determine if you're being quietly fired, there are common signs and indications you can look for, as well as strategies you can implement to combat it.


What Exactly is Quiet Firing?

Quiet firing involves an employer intentionally using passive-aggressive tactics in order to prompt an employee to quit. This can happen whether or not a manager has a valid reason to dismiss the targeted employee. There are many methods for implementing this toxic tactic, but the end goal is to make work unpleasant, unhealthy, and unrewarding enough for an employee to want to resign and find a new job. Quiet firing creates a hostile work environment, can harm a person's mental health, and is considered a form of workplace bullying.


Quiet Quitting and Quiet Firing

The concept of quiet firing was first brought up as a response to quiet quitting. In some situations employees claim they have no choice but to quiet quit because their employers provide them with the bare minimum. On the other hand, employers state that they resort to quiet firing because their employees only do the bare minimum. It's a vicious cycle, and neither is likely to be resolved by the other.

While it's almost impossible to determine which one starts the cycle, both quiet quitting and quiet firing can be blamed on one thing: poor leadership. If either trend is present in the workplace, it indicates that managers are failing to create an engaging workplace culture. It also shows they have poor communication when it comes to providing constructive feedback and transparency about performance, whether good or bad.


Signs of Quiet Firing

How do you know if quiet firing is taking place in your organization? There isn't one tried and true method of identifying it. However, there are signs you can look for if you believe it's happening to you:

  • You are constantly passed over for raises and promotions, even when those around you are advancing.
  • Your input and ideas are rejected. In meetings, your opinions may be dismissed, or others may take credit for your suggestions.
  • You are given assignments that are well below your skill level or given tasks that someone else is better suited for. You may not be given any assignments at all.
  • You are not receiving feedback about your work. If improvements are needed, it's done without consultation or constructive criticism. Alternatively, your successes aren't being acknowledged and appreciated.
  • You are not having meaningful communication with your manager. They don't schedule regular check-ins, and they don't make an effort to connect personally.
  • You do not feel supported in your role. You may find that information or tools necessary for you to succeed are being withheld.
  • You receive poor performance reviews without any legitimate reasoning.

It's important to note that these examples can sometimes happen in a healthy, positive work environment. Even the most competent managers make mistakes. It's when several of these signs are present and reoccurring that it should be worrisome to you.


What to do if Quiet Firing is Happening in your Workplace

Quiet firing not only affects the targeted employee; it has a negative impact on other employees as well. Whether you're the one being quietly fired or it's a coworker, it's likely affecting the well-being of the entire team and must be addressed. Here are some suggestions for how to tackle it:


Avoid Quiet Quitting

If you're being denied promotions and raises, feeling undervalued, and being treated poorly, it can be easy to respond by quiet quitting. After all, why would you go above and beyond for a manager who clearly has it out for you? Responding to quiet firing with additional passive-aggressive tactics is unproductive and will not resolve the issue. If anything, it will cause managers to double their efforts to encourage you to leave.

Instead of disengaging, use this opportunity to actively improve the employee experience for yourself and those around you.


Do Your Research

Take time to evaluate your own performance, and be honest with yourself about whether you're succeeding in your current role. Maybe ask team members to give you feedback. Could performance issues be the reason you're being quietly fired? Although it doesn't justify quiet firing, recognizing that you're struggling to fulfill your role can help lead to constructive conversations with your employer and manager.

Find proof of the value that you add to the organization. Keep records of all your accomplishments and contributions, both big and small.

Read up on company policies regarding raises and promotions. Human resources can be a valuable tool for providing information that helps determine if you're advancing the way you hope to in your company.


Speak Up

After you've done thorough research, talk to your manager. If they are implementing quiet firing tactics, it shows that they lack strong communication skills, so it's up to you to initiate difficult conversations. Be honest and ask for complete transparency in return. Advocate for yourself.

If things don't improve after an initial conversation, take your concerns higher up, like to your boss's boss or HR. Unfortunately, quiet firing isn't technically illegal, but it can be detrimental to the entire business. It should be brought to the attention of higher leadership so they can address it quickly and efficiently.

It may come to a point where you conclude that your company is no longer an environment you want to stay in. Before making that decision, be sure to exhaust all the methods. It could be an issue of miscommunication or unclear expectations, and it's important to explore that possibility before giving up.


Quiet Firing in Tech

Since quiet firing was first recognized and called out in tech, it may be occurring within your software development team. If you suspect that it's happening to you, and you've exhausted all options, you might consider alternative employment working as a contract developer for a recruitment company such as Talentcrowd. Doing freelance work allows you to create your own positive work environment and can provide a much-needed respite.

Ninety-seven percent of developers with Talentcrowd stay on for the duration of their role. Their high retention rate is proof of a pleasant, supportive, and rewarding experience. A major reason for this retention is that each developer is carefully matched with companies and projects they're well suited for. Every candidate is screened for both hard and soft skills to make sure they are excellent team members. Talentcrowd's freelancers also work fully remote, which allows them to work in their own comfortable space.


Key Takeaways

The term quiet firing may be a new trend, but it's a common occurrence and unfortunately could be affecting you and your workplace. If you believe that you're being targeted, be sure to advocate for yourself, but remember that ultimately it's a leadership problem that doesn't reflect on you.

In the end, if you decide that you need a new environment, you can apply for a job as a contract developer with Talentcrowd for a fair and enjoyable tech team experience.

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