Stop Quiet Firing, the Real Culprit Behind Quiet Quitting

We’ve all seen it happen, haven’t we?

A sudden role change..a move to a newly created role to look after “special projects”. A role with little opportunities and little impact… a dead end. Basically a sly move to communicate what needs to be said out loud without actually saying it. That’s dirty and that’s quiet firing.

Read between the lines

For many years, quiet firing had been quietly embraced as an acceptable corporate practice; a way to get employees to quit so the organization doesn’t have to deal with the emotional, financial and psychological repercussions of actually firing them. A rather passive aggressive tool in the entire management toolbox…you’ll actually have to be able to read between the lines to get the message!

When we refuse to have difficult conversations

I must say that we’ve become very creative in the way we execute quiet firing…and I don’t mean it as a compliment. Managers intentionally or unintentionally quiet-fire when they deny pay raises year after year, limit opportunities for exposure and growth, or withhold direct and timely feedback. All these are passion-blockers. When employees find multiple career dead ends, they’ll start subscribing to what we now call “quiet-quiting”.

I’m glad this is getting so much traction online

What started on TikTok and spilled over to the media universe, has continued to dominate conversations both online and offline. Quiet quitting is not exactly about quitting, it’s about de-glorifying the “hustle” and surviving by doing the bare minimum at work.

Gallup has found that “quiet quitters” make up at least 50% of the U.S. workforce. That is highly alarming. While I suspect the pandemic has something to do with this, I’m sure the undercurrents of quiet quitting have been around for much longer, way before this viral “branding” or trend.

Choosing to take personal responsibility

Instead of pointing fingers, I prefer to reflect and look at whether there are traces of quiet firing in my workforce. Are there people in roles that do not match their strengths? Are there others who are falling under the radar? Employees at the mercy of managers who aren’t properly communicating and coaching can feel like they’re trying hard and yet shooting in the dark much of the time. Are there also good workers who are overwhelmed and underappreciated? People on the cusp of burnout almost have a valid reason to quiet-quit. They have their sanity to protect!

Deal with symptoms before they turn to giants

At the end of the day, it’s clear that quiet quitting is a symptom of poor management. Which is a good thing, because that puts the ball back in our courts and gives us managers an opportunity to do something about it.

We all want engaged and passionate employees and an unstoppable workforce and I believe we need to start by initiating meaningful conversations with the quiet-quitters and quiet-firers in our spheres. Intentional leadership will get us and them to where we need to go. It’ll be worth it, so let’s do it.