Forget quiet quitting – here’s how to tell if you’ve been ‘quietly fired’

·3-min read
Forget quiet quitting – here’s how to tell if you’ve been ‘quietly fired’

Never receive feedback or praise, not updated on critical aspects of your work, and awarded minimal or no pay raise? You could be being “quietly fired”.

While “quiet quitting” has gone viral on social media in recent weeks – a concept that sees workers doing only the bare minimum of what a job entails, rather than helping out with additional tasks or “going the extra mile” – “quiet firing” has emerged as a counterpoint to this theory.

Bonnie Dilber, a recruitment expert based in Seattle, argues that what lies behind the decision of employees to disengage with work can often be directly linked to poor management.

In a recent LinkedIn post, she elaborates on how a lack of support and communication can result in people withdrawing from work.

“The ‘Quiet Quitting’ thing is funny to me,” she begins. “I think the real conversation should be around ‘Quiet Firing’ as it's rampant.”

She goes on to list some of the behaviours that typify “quiet firing”.

“You don't receive feedback or praise. You get raises of three per cent or less while others are getting much more. Your 1:1s are frequently cancelled or shuffled around. You don't get invited to work on cool projects or stretch opportunities. You're not kept up-to-date on information that is relevant or critical to your work. Your manager never talks to you about your career trajectory.

“This happens ALL THE TIME,” she continues.

She adds that this approach often “works great for companies” as staff end up in one of two positions.

“Eventually, you’ll either feel so incompetent, isolated, and unappreciated that you'll go find a new job, and they never have to deal with a development plan or offer severance.

“Or your performance will slip enough due to the lack of support that they'll be able to let you go.”

She ends the post by encouraging companies to study their management practices in a bid to identify poor managers “who don’t want to do the work to support, train and coach their teams”.

Elsewhere, Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman of the leadership consultancy firm Zenger/Folkman studied data gathered since 2020 on nearly 3,000 managers who were rated by over 13,000 direct reports.

In a piece for Harvard Business Review, they conclude that effective managers need to build trust with their staff, which is based on three factors: positive, mutually respectful relationships, consistency and expertise.

“Our data indicates that quiet quitting is usually less about an employee’s willingness to work harder and more creatively, and more about a manager’s ability to build a relationship with their employees where they are not counting the minutes until quitting time,” they conclude.

They add: “It’s easy to place the blame for quiet quitting on lazy or unmotivated workers, but instead, this research is telling us to look within and recognise that individuals want to give their energy, creativity, time, and enthusiasm to the organisations and leaders that deserve it.”