We recently wrote about a new term for a not-so-new practice, quiet quitting. It seems employees aren’t the only ones who are taking a subtle approach to reduce how much work they do. Employers are isolating employees who they want to leave through quiet firing.
Quiet firing is the act of not rewarding employees with raises, promotions, or other benefits in the hope that they will quit. According to Bonnie Dilber’s post on LinkedIn, “it works great for companies…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.”
While most agree that this type of passive-aggressive behavior is representative of poor leadership skills, it happens more than people think. And the impact on the employee can be devastating. It is hard to detect that anything is happening and the employee may begin to doubt themselves and their abilities, making it more difficult to find their next role and to perform well when they do.
A recent Korn Ferry article mentions, “But today’s environment may be ripe for the practice. With the economy in a downturn, firms are pressuring managers to unload workers who aren’t pulling their weight without actually firing or furloughing them. What’s more, the Great Resignation helped create a severe labor shortage that forced firms to hire quickly, in some cases creating less-than-ideal matches that put managers in difficult situations.”
As we’ve learned throughout the pandemic years, people want to work for and buy from organizations that align with their values. If they find out a company is quiet firing employees instead of being honest and open with their people, the company will quickly lose customers and have a more difficult time hiring, which could exacerbate the issue in the long run.
The key to avoiding quiet firing (and quiet quitting) is communication. Operate with intentionality and transparency. Be honest and hold employees accountable if there is an issue. And you need to also be open and listen, understand where they are coming from and make sure they are heard. If you don’t, there’s a good chance you will find your company, and potentially yourself shared on social media sites in a less-than-positive light.
With good two-way communication, where employees know that they can speak openly without fear of retribution, you can often fix the issues and move forward together. And in situations where you can’t, everyone is aware of the situation, and it may be best for the employee and the company to move on.
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