What Is Quiet Firing?

Quiet firing refers to an employer creating a hostile work environment to encourage an employee to quit instead of directly firing the unwanted employee. An employer may create a hostile work environment by allowing behavior from one employee to go unchecked while hyper focusing on the same behavior from another employee. Employers can also create a hostile work environment by demoting an employee without cause, piling up excessive projects or tasks with short deadlines, and refusing to give any positive feedback and only responding with negative feedback to employees.

Should HR Practice Quiet Firing?

Human resources should never participate in the practice of quiet firing. The role of HR is to put the people first, uphold ethics and protect the company, even if that means protecting the company from themselves.

  • People. We, as HR professionals, should always put people first in any organization that we represent. The people are the lifeline and heart of the organization. When people feel well represented and protected, they are successful and able to perform at their full capacity. Everyone needs to feel they are getting the support and honesty they require to succeed.
  • Ethics. Quiet firing is unethical, and the HR profession requires us to be the moral guide for the companies we represent. We need to point out the error of dishonesty and failing to be forthright with reviews and training. The type of leadership that practices quiet firing lacks ethical guidance and can lead to long-term cultural issues.
  • The company. As HR professionals, we need to protect the company, even when that means protecting the company from themselves. HR needs to be great at creating relationships with organizational leaders so that we know when and how to push back and guide them into a better and more successful path.

Consequences of Quiet Firing

The overall consequence of quiet firing is a toxic workplace culture. A toxic workplace is a broad term that involves many different negative aspects of workplace culture. Here are a few.

Anxiety in the Workplace

If employees start to see behaviors such as exclusion from meetings or overly harsh and public feedback, they worry this behavior could happen to them as well and grow anxious about their actions in the workplace.

High Turnover

If employees see coworkers get bullied out of their job, they may expect the same treatment will happen to them in the future. This will lead to high turnover as employees seek employment in healthier workplaces.

High Recruitment Costs

Let’s be honest: people talk. Any workplace engaging in quiet firing should expect to see an uptick in negative online employee reviews. This will lower employee engagement and lead to higher turnover rates. All of this will deter people from wanting to work for the employer, causing a longer recruiting process and decreasing profits from a bad public image.

How to Prevent Quiet Firing in the Workplace

The steps to preventing quiet firing in your workplace are simple and straightforward. You can start by creating a culture of open communication, performing regular check-ins on progress and training, and having an open door policy.

Step 1: Create a Culture of Open Communication

Creating a culture where people feel free to exchange ideas and communicate openly helps leaders know that they need to communicate with team members about expectations and benchmarks. Open communication lowers anxiety buildup that can come from infrequent communication, and open up opportunities to give genuine and helpful feedback.

Step 2: Conduct Regular Check-Ins on Progress and Training

Having regular check-ins with all team members to check on their training, projects and development progress helps foster open communication between all team members.

Step 3: Instate an Open Door Policy

Foster a two-way, open door policy so that everyone knows that open communication is expected to collaborate, streamline and work well together. This eliminates anyone in leadership holding special meetings or secret communication. Everyone is encouraged to speak openly about team member feedback and training.

Examples of Quiet Firing

Examples of quiet firing are vast and people come up with new and specific versions all of the time. Here are a few of the most common.

Exclusion

Exclusion from meetings and development opportunities is a powerful quiet firing technique. This looks like giving others of the same title, experience and tenure the opportunity to attend a development opportunity while cutting one person out for no particular reason.

Perfection Expectation

Some leaders turn to giving write-ups for little things instead of helpful training or corrective action. This may stem from the thought that they are creating documentation and motivating the person to leave instead of needing to be officially fired.

Overloading

Overloading is the process of giving someone too many assignments or too high of a quota, usually accompanied by a short deadline or turnaround time. This often causes the employee to feel burnt out and frustrated, and eventually motivates the employee to seek employment elsewhere.