Respect Equality

Forget ‘quiet quitting.’ Workplaces should focus on ‘quiet firing’

‘Quiet firing’ is another buzz term on social media, but what exactly does it mean?

Story at a glance

  •  After “quiet quitting,” the term “quiet firing” is the latest buzzword to make the rounds on social media. 

  • The term refers to when an employer purposefully treats a worker badly to try to get them to quit.

  • Employers can choose to do this if they don’t know how to manage a poor performer and want to save on severance.

Now that the term “quiet quitting” has buzzed around the internet, a new phrase — “quiet firing” — is shifting the focus around workplace culture on to how employers treat their staff.  

While quiet quitting is a misnomer — the expression does not refer to employees leaving their job — the meaning of “quiet firing” is a little more on the nose.  

Quiet firing, also known as constructive dismissal, is not a new practice and refers to when an employer purposely treats workers badly to get them to quit and avoid directly laying them off.  

It’s not an unusual tactic, as more than 80 percent of respondents say they have either seen or experienced quiet firing, according to a recent LinkedIn News poll.  

Some examples of quiet firing are refusing to give an employee a raise for years, skipping a deserving employee for promotion or overburdening workers with unimportant busy work, according to Victoria Pelletier, managing director and global CEO of transformation at the special information technology servicing and consulting company Accenture. 

“It’s an incredibly passive-aggressive way to manage poor performers,” Pelletier told Changing America.

Other examples of quiet firing include giving an employee a poor performance review without clear reason, purposefully assigning a worker to tasks that they do not like, or abruptly changing a worker’s role.  

“Let’s say that you’ve got [someone] in a leadership position, managing people, and they are not a good leader so you put them back into being an individual contributor. That’s a substantial change in role so that person could potentially say it’s constructive dismissal,” Pelletier said. “Even if their salary hasn’t changed.”  

Pelletier explained that employers might choose to quietly fire someone as a way of saving on severance or avoid a lengthy performance improvement process that usually last at least 90 days. But while some poor managers might view the tactic as effective, it can be dangerous.  

“It opens employers to constructive dismissal lawsuits and, observed by other employees, can create a toxic environment and unwanted turnover,” she said.