How to Tackle ‘Quiet Firing’ at Work

The concept of “silent cessation” is going viral on social media, but another equally passive-aggressive workplace practice is also causing debate. While “quiet quitting” refers to workers doing the bare minimum that’s expected of them at work, the Internet has coined a new term for what managers might do in response – “quiet firing.”

Social media influencer DeAndre Brown was among the first to mention the term in a viral TikTok video on Aug. 24, in which he describes “quiet firing” as a workplace that doesn’t reward an employee for their contributions to an organization rewarded and forced to leave her job.

Continue reading: Employees say “quiet quitting” is just setting boundaries. Companies fear long-term effects

“It works great for companies…at some point you either feel so incompetent, isolated and unappreciated that you look for a new job and they never have to deal with a development plan or offer a severance package,” wrote recruiter Bonnie Dilber in a viral LinkedIn post.

A recent report from the Pew Research Center shows that many employees cite low wages and no opportunity for growth as reasons for the 20-year high attrition rate reached in November 2021.

With many employees sharing their experiences of “quiet firing” online, career experts are encouraging employees to be more vocal about their needs with their managers and colleagues to combat the practice.

Talk to your manager

If you think you’re being quietly fired, “speak to leadership, speak up for yourself…and get together with other people who have the same needs as you or who are looking for other changes in the workplace, and.” then give it some time and see if those changes actually happen,” suggests Janice Gassam Asare, a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and racial justice consultant.

The idea of ​​an employer effectively forcing an employee to quit is not entirely new. Constructive relief – where an employer actively makes an employee’s working conditions so uncomfortable that they quit, has been common for many years. This could fall under the umbrella term of silent dismissal, but also neglecting an employee or wasting an employee’s time, opportunity or resources in a more passive approach that would also result in termination.

“It’s been happening for years,” says Annette Castro, a 22-year-old research technician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Castro worked at an ice cream parlor in Philadelphia for two years to complete college and was eventually promoted to night manager. But when Castro took two weeks off – which she had requested months in advance – she was dropped from the forthcoming schedule upon her return. Castro inquired about her hours but received no reply. “I feel like I’ve been ghosted by my company,” Castro tells TIME.

Castro’s experience reflects a workplace norm that the younger generation is calling attention to – a norm that often chooses a lack of communication that is not conducive to a productive work environment.

Look for others to help advocate for you

The root of “quiet firing” is poor communication, suggests Jessica Kriegel, chief scientist of workplace culture at Culture Partners. “If a manager avoids conflict or is afraid of a difficult conversation, then maybe they don’t have… the courage to speak the truth about how you’re perceived within the organization and your job,” Kriegel tells TIME.

Kriegel also suggests that managers themselves may also “quiet quietly.” When a manager does this, “by default, it means their employees aren’t getting the kind of leadership and attention they used to get.”

Career coaches generally agree that the best way to address this dissatisfaction is to be transparent with your manager. If a leader isn’t willing to move forward with the termination interview, employees need to ask themselves if there’s still room for growth at their current company. If the first interview isn’t productive, Kriegel suggests speaking to your manager’s boss about your suitability for the company.

Continue reading: Forget “silent stop”. Here’s how to actually set boundaries at work

But aside from communicating directly with your manager, experts say it’s important for employees to have their resources reviewed – whether it’s through an ombudsman, outside officials employers can turn to with problems, or other employees who advocate for and with them they can – to make sure they are heard.

Remote or hybrid work can make it harder to build relationships with co-workers, but it’s still possible to do so if you know how to leverage the relationship you have. “Ask your manager if they can introduce you to someone from another team because you’re interested in meeting more people,” says Kriegel. “Career development today is really about who you know and the relationships you’ve built within your organization.”

Gassam Asare has found in her consulting experience that employers often tiptoe around and give constructive feedback to employees from racially excluded backgrounds. This means people of color are more likely to face silent shots, she says.

“I have clients who sometimes say we don’t know how to deal with this employee, right? We fear that this employee will react negatively if we give them feedback on their performance,” says Gassam Asare. “Instead of giving them constructive feedback that would help them grow and develop, they just don’t give feedback at all.”

That is reflected in the numbers. A 2021 Mckinsey report found that black employees make up 14% of all employees, but only 7% of the black workforce holds senior managerial positions.

Do your homework

Workers should also familiarize themselves with workplace protocols for promotions and raises by reading the employee handbook, Gassam Asare says. “Looking back at the documents you were given can reveal a lot of information about the process.” This can make discouraging conversations about progress easier.

Similarly, keeping records of achievements and the value they have added at work, as well as the pay scales for their roles, can help employees lobby for promotions and raises.

Find strength in numbers

Gassam Asare warns that quitting should only be a last resort, especially amid concerns of a looming recession and a spate of layoffs and hiring freezes. Instead, she recommends looking at employee resource groups or even joining unions to ensure workers know their rights and can speak up if they feel undervalued.

Continue reading: Only the paranoid survive.” Some CEOs are downsizing even as the job market is booming

“At some point you might have to get to the point where it’s no longer the environment you want to stay in, but I would warn people against that,” says Gassam Asare. “I think both jobs and employees are in vulnerable positions. So I think it’s so important to exhaust all possible methods if you think you’re going to be quietly fired.

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