Could quiet firing be happening to you?

Many of us have heard about quiet quitting – the global phenomenon that has workers mentally checking out at work and just scraping by. But what is quiet firing?

In the same vein of workers doing the bare minimum while staying on the job, quiet firing is when a supervisor creates non-ideal work conditions to try and get workers to quit the job. 

Here are several ways to spot if this could be happening to you: 

You are being ignored 

It actually takes a lot of effort from supervisors to continually spend time with their workers coaching and mentoring them. Healthy working relationships are built on regular one-on-one work reviews and performance appraisals where supervisors can give meaningful and constructive feedback for workers to improve, while also reassuring them and recognising their work. If you find that there is a communication breakdown with your supervisor and that he/she is withdrawing feedback, this could be one of the first signs of quiet firing.

You have a drastic change in work tasks

Some supervisors might resort to giving workers tasks that they dislike to try and coerce them to quit on their own accord. Perhaps you might be asked to do the most mundane and boring of tasks or be given so little work that the worker finds little meaning in their work and questions his/her value to the company. Another way might be for the supervisor to continually load the worker with so much work that the worker cannot manage or it affects their mental well-being and they call it quits. Being given multiple challenging tasks also potentially puts the worker in a position to fail and they choose to leave their position after being disheartened by the unsurmountable setbacks. 

You are being passed over for promotions or pay raises

Many workers look for clarity in terms of career progression with supervisors giving clear direction on when they can expect promotions. When workers realise their growth has been curtailed, it might be the push factor for them to switch careers. This is a very passive-aggressive approach to performance management where the supervisor continually skips the workers’ promotions or pay raises. The worker eventually becomes dissatisfied and disillusioned of hearing “maybe next time” and “you are not the right fit for the position” and seeing their colleagues be given opportunities for growth and career climbing while their own work has become unfulfilling and hopeless. 

Toxic workplace and unfair treatment?

You do not feel supported 

Withdrawal of support is one of the ways in which supervisors use in quiet firing. Be it failing to provide important information or resources and making no effort to oversee the project, workers will feel like they are alone. It could also be a case where supervisors offer you no assistance when you face roadblocks and you see no effort on their part to defend you when things go awry. These situations often bubble and make workers feel disgruntled, pushing them towards other greener pastures.

You feel left out  

A part of job satisfaction and fulfillment is having good relations with one’s supervisors and colleagues. Supervisors who purposely use isolation as a quiet firing technique often exclude workers and might even incite other colleagues to distance themselves from the worker. Where you were once part of the group for lunch or after-hours drinks, you might find yourself alienated and alone. This forced isolation breaks down the worker’s sense of belonging to the team and company and has a profound effect on their job satisfaction. 

Although quiet firing might be effective to some extent in getting workers to quit, it’s a very passive-aggressive manner of dealing with work situations and could have long term negative impact on the company. Quiet firing places other colleagues in difficult positions if they feel like they have to take sides or even worse, fear that this could happen to them some day. This might lower morale and loyalty to the company, increasing the rate at which people leave the company. 

If you ever feel like quiet firing could be happening to you – do not hesitate to raise the issue with your supervisor or higher management to nip such situations in the bud. Workplaces should always encourage honest and open conversations where constructive feedback is shared. Every worker matters and all of them deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. It is common to face challenges in the workplace and much more can be achieved when working together instead of fostering acrimonious relationships. 

There is nothing wrong with being loyal to an organization