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Quiet Firing: The Employer's Answer to Quiet Quitting

It seems nowadays both employees and employers alike now prefer making their decisions quietly and discreetly. At least when it comes to removing either themselves or someone else from their job, anyway.

The concept of ‘quiet quitting’ has been making the rounds online as of late, where the employee does not directly quit their job but instead strives to complete only the bare minimum and does not go beyond what is asked of them. It is completely removing oneself from today's “hustle culture” mentality and not letting your work interfere with your personal life. For more on quiet quitting, check out Caitlin Pentland’s blog.

But perhaps employers have found their own sneaky method to answer the trend of quiet quitting…

Well, now there’s a new sheriff in town…and his name is ‘quiet firing’.


As a former miserable employee of many loathsome jobs, I find the idea of quiet quitting and quiet firing interesting. For my past jobs, the moment I began to lose interest in working where I was, I probably began to quiet quit without realizing it. And those times at my job, I was feeling ignored and brushed aside; perhaps my manager was trying to quiet fire me (before it was “cool”). I believe in an age where the well-being of employees is being increasingly discussed, these concepts must be examined as well.

What is ‘Quiet Firing’?

‘Quiet firing’ is a term used to describe when managers do not directly fire you but create a working environment that leaves you with no choice other than quitting.

But how? This indirect method of firing could take many forms. Most often, it could be not inviting you to relevant meetings, purposefully withholding information from you, or failing to promote or reward you for completing tasks.

Formerly known as “constructive dismissal” or “constructive termination”, the idea of an employer subtly nudging out an unwanted employee is not new to the working world (it has actually been around for quite some time!) —  it just has a new title.

This tactic releases the manager from the long and arduous process of having to let an employee go themselves (and all the Human Resources implications, too!). Some may say this is simply a lazy way for managers to relieve themselves from the burden of firing an employee; others add that it could be a form of bullying. In many cases, involving constructive dismissal (or the new and improved “quit firing”), the resignation that follows results from actions that are perceived to be malicious and punitive.

Billy Wilder - "The Apartment"

And I get it. It’s a seemingly easy solution for those in charge, but it could be devastating for those on the receiving end. You, the employee, are made to feel so underappreciated or unfulfilled that you have no other option but to leave a job you may have once enjoyed. While the employer, they have just narrowly avoided having to provide you with a severance package. And even though it looks simple to the employer, it gets a lot more complicated for the employee.

A practical example

Let’s say you’re in line at a restaurant waiting to order your food. Instead of the cashier taking people’s orders from the first person in line to the last person, they instead go through every person in line but ignore you, skipping to the next person behind you. When you attempt to speak up about being skipped over, you are disregarded and told to get back in line even though you just were.

What would one do in that situation?

Naturally, you would leave and go to another restaurant to look for better service. But that doesn’t resolve the way you were treated at the last restaurant. You might have felt ignored and cast aside, isolated from everyone else for no reason. The feeling of being ostracized doesn’t immediately go away because you’ve left that environment. The psychological toll that has could have a huge negative impact on a person’s wellbeing.

Joel Schumacher - "Falling Down"

Are you being quiet fired? What you need to do…

You may be experiencing quiet firing and may not even know it. In a LinkedIn Survey of over 20,000 people, 48% say they have witnessed quiet firing in their workplace, while 35% report having experienced it themselves.

Warner Bros. "All the President's Men"

If you find that you may be your manager’s next target for quiet firing, it is important to act fast. Advocate for yourself or find others to advocate for you. Come together with your peers looking for a change in the workplace environment and see if those changes happen. Perhaps even schedule a meeting with your manager directly and mention your concerns. It is better to be upfront if you are feeling cast aside at work rather than remaining passive.

It is also imperative to keep your options open. Sometimes a job isn’t meant to be, and it has simply run its course. Explore other job opportunities, even in the same field, if that is what you are passionate about. Taking control of the situation and empowering yourself is good; don’t let what could be a debilitating experience consume you entirely.

The bigger picture

It is best to understand and recognize that just as much as quiet quitting, quiet firing is a reality in the workplace. Regardless, quiet firing is more telling of your manager’s work ethic than it is of yours. If your manager decides to passively leave you out in order to drive you away, that is their issue.

In today’s society, we are learning to acknowledge toxic workplace habits as we see them.

If you question whether or not you are in the process of being quiet fired, ask yourself if you would want to work somewhere that does not respect you enough to be open and honest with you in the first place.

Does your manager have a history of behaving this way with past employees?

Is your manager currently behaving this way only with you or with other colleagues as well?

In order to make the best decision, you must observe what is going on around you, not only with yourself. If you discover your manager is trying to quiet fire you, but you would still prefer to stay in your current role, there is a solution to help you cope with your situation.

Perhaps, try quiet quitting.


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