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What Is Quiet Firing in the Workplace?

You’ve heard of quiet quitting but have you heard of quiet firing? 

Quiet firing the latest workplace topic making its rounds on social media and amongst industry professionals — one that 48% of employees in a recent LinkedIn News poll say they’ve experienced. So what is it? Read on to learn more about what quiet firing is, how it manifests, and how you can set employees up for success with great management at your organization.

What is quiet firing?

Quiet firing refers to a situation in which employees feel their managers are subtly encouraging them to leave a workplace at their own discretion rather than being terminated. Employees who say they’ve experienced quiet firing say that their managers avoided offering feedback, coaching, or training. Or they felt their managers were overly harsh or piled on work in an attempt to wear them out.

While there are quite a few ways this behavior can manifest itself in the workplace, it is almost always the result of poorly trained managers. And while this concept isn’t entirely new, it is the first time it’s been given a name and garnered this much attention. 

The result of quiet firing

When employees feel that quiet firing is occuring in their workplace, there are several consequences that follow. Here are a few warning signs to look out for that might signal that this behavior is occurring in your workplace:

  • Resentment growing amongst your employees
  • Higher levels of turnover and low morale
  • Lower productivity — typically stemming from lack of recognition and motivation 
  • Decrease in new applicants due to negative employer reputation

How to prevent quiet firing at your workplace

Luckily, there are things you can do to ensure your management team isn’t exhibiting behaviors that can be construed as quiet firing — even if it happens unintentionally. Follow these tips to keep your employees happy and ensure great management-employee relationships:

Set clear expectations for every role

Employees might feel they’re experiencing quiet firing if they just aren’t sure how they’re performing relative to what’s expected of them. It’s important to set clear expectations initially when you first hire the employee; ideally, a physical or digital copy of everything they’ll be responsible for in their role should be given to the new hire in their onboarding packet so they can keep it for their records. This document can then help direct the conversation during regular coaching sessions or performance reviews with managers.

Mandate regular coaching and feedback

It’s important that all of your managers and their direct reports have regularly scheduled meetings to discuss performance based on the expectations set above. That way, managers are forced to share how they feel an employee is doing and what they can do to improve. This eliminates any opportunity for the manager to be avoidant, and it ensures that the employee is never in the dark about how their employer and broader organization feels about their performance. You can even add another layer of mandatory check-ins with each employee and their manager’s boss. This provides extra opportunities for the employee to check in and discuss their work with someone other than their direct supervisor.  

Offer management training

A major driving factor behind quiet firing behavior is poor management training. When managers never learn how to properly give feedback — especially when it’s negative feedback — this can leave employees feeling isolated from their managers and unclear how their performance stacks up against expectations. Good management training involves educating managers on techniques for when to approach employees with feedback, how to communicate feedback (e.g., don’t “sandwich” negative feedback between two pieces of positive feedback), and what channels and situations in which to provide it.

Provide learning and development opportunities

Finally, make sure you have a structured learning and development program at your organization that employees can take advantage of outside of their day-to-day work. This gives employees the freedom to build and expand their skillsets on their own terms without relying on their manager for training or guidance. And it also sends a higher-level message to your employees that you value their future and growth at your organization, no matter how their direct manager behaves. 

When employees feel they are experiencing quiet firing it can lead to increased anxiety among your team, lack of productivity, and long-term employment brand issues. To avoid employees feeling this way at your organization, cultivate a work environment that gives managers the tools they need to provide top-notch coaching and training so that employees know that you’re invested in their success. 

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