Quiet Firing and How You Can Avoid It

Learning from Recruiter
09 Nov 2022
Quiet Firing and How You Can Avoid It

By now, you’re probably already familiar with the term ‘quiet quitting’, but there’s a new buzzword that we should also acquaint ourselves with. And that is ‘quiet firing’.

Quiet firing is when a manager or employer chooses to pull back on the duties of an underperforming employee or create a less than ideal work environment for them instead of just letting them go.

So, instead of giving employees any sort of feedback to learn and grow from their mistakes, they hope that the individual will just take themselves out of the equation and quit.

It may be interesting to note that while the term quiet firing sounds new, the approach in itself is not and has been around for some time. According to a LinkedIn poll with over 20,000 respondents, 80% of workers said that they have seen quiet firing at work or have experienced it themselves.

Yes, we know it all sounds terribly counterproductive and odd. Why would any employer or manager keep an underperforming staff on their payroll with no intention of helping them to improve?  

Quiet firing is highly problematic and it stems from a number of reasons such as conflict avoidance, cost-saving to mismanagement. So it’s important that employees are able to identify the signs and also be proactive in ensuring that they avoid such a situation.

8 Signs of Quiet Firing

It can be challenging to know exactly if you’re being quietly fired, however there are some common signs that you should look out for:

  1. You received a very minimal salary raise or none at all over an extended period of time.
  2. You’re being blocked from opportunities for growth or promotion, or the opportunities that you want are being assigned to other team members.
  3. Your ideas are often dismissed with minimal or no time spent on the consideration of its feasibility.
  4. Your boss doesn’t give you clear and timely feedback.
  5. Your boss becomes less available and are often cancelling meetings with you.
  6. Your responsibilities are shifted toward tasks that are mundane and require minimal or zero expertise.
  7. You are excluded from team gatherings and social events.  
  8. You receive unfair or unequal treatment from your boss.

When these situations occur, you may find themselves feeling detached from their work environment and having low morale. Thereby leading to resignation due to a want for better treatment.   

8 Ways to Avoid Quiet Firing

There are several things you can do to try to avoid quiet firing and it mainly revolves around communication.

  1. Do not avoid having conversations with your manager. Speak to them personally and request for a catch up, even if it’s just for a short 10-minute one.
  2. Ask for feedback for the last project you were delegated and consciously make an effort to do better and outperform their expectations.
  3. Ask for a challenge by looking for specific projects or work that you can either take on or help out with. Mention these options to them and use whatever small opportunities you may have to produce excellent work. 
  4. Be vocal about your goals and aspirations. Have some time to discuss this with your manager, mentioning that you would like to garner several skills when you first started and how you can get these skills, whether it’s through leading a project or going through training programs.
  5. Ask your manager for specifics on what you can do to attain a promotion or raise along with a timeline that you can work towards. Make sure you have concrete and measurable ways to determine the quality of your output. Follow up with an email to ensure that you have captured all the points that were discussed. Put together a plan of action and work towards achieving the set objectives.
  6. Take initiative and find other areas that you can contribute. It may well be tasks that no one else wants to do such a being part of a planning committee for an upcoming event. Take it on and do it well as these can contribute to winning favourable reviews from your team and the attendees.  
  7. Always be on top of things. Ensure that you aren’t giving anyone opportunities to dismiss your contributions by being two steps ahead. When you consistently turn in top notch work, it shows reliability. This can become what you’re known for and hopefully change minds.
  8. Proactively build rapport with your colleagues. Be the one who shows interest and ask about their weekend. Chat with them about non work-related topics so that you can get to know each other on a more personal basis. Surprise a colleague once in a while buy buying them a cup of coffee. The idea is to create genuine connection with your colleagues so that their response and actions are based on their perception of you instead of being swayed by other external influences.

In summary, the overall approach to avoid quiet firing is to put out work that is of consistently high standards and build strong relationships. And it is important to note that these things take time so it is important to be patient in the process.

However, if you find yourself stuck in a cycle and all your efforts to change minds have been in vain, then perhaps, it might be time for you explore your options and look for other opportunities elsewhere.


Debby Lim

As the practice leader of RecruitFirst Indonesia, Debby brings to the table over 13 years of industry experience.

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