What Is Quiet Firing?

White work space with three plants, phone, book and pen but no person.

I finally figured out quiet quitting and now the media is buzzing about quiet firing. Both are catchy terms that are misleading because they have nothing to do with employment termination. As I blogged last week, quiet quitting is about employees setting boundaries about how much they are willing to work and which tasks they are willing to do. But what is quiet firing if it has nothing to do with firing people?

What Is Quiet Firing?

Quiet quitting is about the behavior of employees while quiet firing is about the behavior of their managers. Quiet firing occurs when employees feel they are being taken for granted. In my experience, this happens in jobs that provide little of three important qualities.

  • Appreciation. Employees need to know that what they do is important, and that management recognizes their efforts. In modern vernacular, employees need to feel seen and heard.
  • Rewards. It is hard for employees to be fully engaged if they do not receive some sort of rewards for their efforts. Those rewards can be tangible in terms of raises (often lack of raises is mentioned as the root of quiet firing) and fringe benefits. They can also be intangible, such as receiving praise by managers for accomplishments at work, which can be a powerful motivator.
  • Support. Work can be difficult and stressful, so employees need to be supported. Support can be in the form of assistance in getting work done if workloads get too heavy, or employees are unsure of how to do something. Also critical is emotional support when employees are under stress from work or even from home.

Failure to provide these three qualities can undermine employee engagement and motivation. Their lack is what quiet firing is all about—organizations not investing in their employees. In this time of full employment, employees feeling they are being quiet fired are likely to terminate employment themselves and quit.

What Organizations Can Do

People are an organization’s most important resource. Without them the organization cannot exist. If employees believe they are being quiet fired, management is doing something wrong. It is up to managers to create a supportive organizational climate that makes the workplace an inviting and rewarding place to be. Creating a climate that supports organizational goals without making employees feel exploited takes effective leadership. There are several points to consider.

  • Articulate Organizational Goals. Top leadership should set clear goals and communicate those goals throughout the organization. A strong climate is focused on important outcomes, like customer service, ethics, innovation, or safety. Employees need to understand the goals and be supported in achieving them.
  • Fairness is Key. Employees need to feel that they are treated fairly. This involves not only how rewards are distributed, but the underlying process by which rewards are decided should be transparent. If raises are based on performance, employees should understand how performance is assessed and how it is linked to rewards. But fairness is not just about pay. It is important for how employees are treated in disciplinary actions, work assignments, and anything that affects them and their employment.
  • Provide Support. As I mentioned earlier, leaders need to support their employees. Providing effecting support takes skill, as poorly provided support can be counterproductive. One of the most effective things leaders can do is ask employees how they are doing. Effective leaders will offer help rather force it on someone. Sometimes a struggling employee wants to figure it out themselves.
  • Recognize Efforts. Leaders need to pay attention to their employees and provide tangible and intangible rewards. Too often when managers are told they should reward employees, they complain that they can’t afford to give raises. Certainly, a raise is a form of recognition, but it is not the only one. Expressing appreciation—a simple thank you—can be a powerful reward. It is also possible to reward employees by allowing them to take on a fun project, giving time off, providing more autonomy, or taking them to lunch.

Quiet firing is about employees feeling that they are not being treated well by their employers. It takes effort on the part of leaders to create a working environment that enables employees to thrive and be at their best.

Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels

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2 Replies to “What Is Quiet Firing?”

  1. Thank you for sharing this insight regarding “quiet firing”. Hopefully, more operational leaders will take note and consider these pointers when dealing with employee relations challenges. Your commentary is enlightening for leaders to understand that company behaviors have an extreme impact on the workforce.

  2. Employees in this generation are a bunch of wusses … tell ya what, go to work ON TIME, do your job, DON’T THINK ABOUT HOW YOU NEED A VIRTUAL HUG FOR DOING WHAT YOU ARE BEING PAID TO DO! Just do your job, go home, to the bar, or your parents house for the hug. You’ll get a paycheck and that is what your boss is for. Grow up.
    The author of this talks rewards, that would be the paycheck! Seriously … just do your job!

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