The phrase “quiet quitting” began by taking over TikTok and then made headlines worldwide. Interestingly, the term—which took off after a video on TikTok went viral—doesn’t have anything to do with quitting. Instead, it refers to abandoning the notion that you must go above and beyond at work to be happy. While you’re still performing your duties, this trend acknowledges that work isn’t your life. Whether you agree with the concept or not, it has certainly sparked controversy, with everyone from Arianna Huffington to Kevin O’ Leary weighing in. Now the trend is receiving backlash, and a new term is gaining traction. It’s called “quiet firing.”
Quiet firing refers to a phenomenon in which employers demoralize unwanted workers to the point that they decide to quit. Paul Lewis, Chief Customer Officer at Adzuna, defines it as “employers treating their staff in such a way it forces them to leave instead of directly laying them off.” But, he adds, “This term may simply just be a new moniker for a toxic work environment and workplace bullying.” Nevertheless, the practice is so prevalent that in a recent LinkedIn News poll, over 80% of the over 20,000 respondents admitted to facing it themselves or seeing it firsthand at work.
Whether the actions are intentional or not, the concept isn’t new and could benefit the employer. After all, if an employee leaves voluntarily, they are not entitled to unemployment compensation or a severance package. So, if you’re wondering whether your boss may be guilty of quiet firing, here are some key signs to watch for:
Your favorite projects are being reassigned
One of the clearest signals you’re experiencing quiet firing is when your boss starts delegating your tasks to subordinates or reducing your work hours. When that happens without some type of explanation, it might be time to leave your current job.
You are consistently given the worst tasks
There are always undesirable activities at work, but do you always get the projects no one wants? Lewis adds, “Not getting challenging or interesting assignments where you can grow, or worse, your employer is actively behaving in such a way that causes you to want to leave are key signs to watch for.”
Your workload increases to an unmanageable level
When your duties grow to the point that you can’t keep up anymore, it could be a warning sign. For example, your manager might overload you with projects in the hopes that you will get frustrated and burned out and leave for another job. If you feel your boss is setting you up to fail, it may be time to consider opportunities outside the company.
You are suddenly left out of the loop
Are you suddenly left out of meetings that you used to attend? Were you previously copied on emails and now find yourself removed from distribution lists? When the company starts excluding you from important conversations, it could be a red flag.
Your boss avoids you
When your boss unexpectedly starts ignoring you, it may be a sign that they are just busy and preoccupied. But if this behavior is combined with many other indicators, it could mean your boss is guilty of quiet firing.
Your job title or description changed
In most cases, employers have the right to modify job descriptions to meet the organization’s needs. However, if the company makes major changes without being concerned about getting employee input or support, it may be a warning sign.
You are asked to start documenting everything
When your manager engages in quiet firing, they will request that you document everything connected to your job. You may also notice that more communication occurs in writing rather than verbally.
Your manager sabotages your career growth
The goal for any manager is to make sure their team is successful. If your manager never asks about your professional goals and continually ignores or postpones career advancement requests, it might signal quiet firing.
Your boss never gives you positive feedback
Feedback is critical to professional development. Yet, when managers only deliver criticism, it can be demoralizing. If your boss continually attempts to discourage you with negative comments, you could be a victim of quiet firing.
You receive poor performance reviews without an apparent reason
You consistently go above and beyond and have documented incredible achievements. Yet, year after year, you receive poor or even negative performance reviews. If you’ve earned a raise or promotion but keep getting the run-around, it might be time to look for opportunities elsewhere.
While quiet quitting and quiet firing are not new concepts, they have been exacerbated by the pandemic. If you find yourself experiencing a number of these red flags simultaneously, it either indicates bad management or passive-aggressive behavior. Either way, listen to your inner voice. If you sense that you’re a victim of quiet firing, it’s time to dust off your resume and find a company that appreciates your true value.