Is your boss ‘quiet firing’ you?

Viewed in Business Insider

 In our best reads for August 2022 a few weeks ago, we featured an overview of a new and largely unknown trend emerging among Generation Z workers.

Quiet quitting

Now largely finished with their post-secondary educations, they are beginning to enter the workforce en masse— and their workplace idiosyncrasies are proving a management challenge. The Wall Street Journal, for instance, mentions their inclination to “quiet quit” on the job.

For those unfamiliar, quiet quitting is a conscious decision by an employee to as little as possible on the job to avoid being fired—and sometimes, as we highlighted, to even brag about this approach in TikTok and other social media outlets.

Engagement and retention

For companies understandably concerned about employee engagement and retention, it is not a good optic.

But it turns out, in fairness to Generation Z, they are not the only ones with an inclination to exhibit passive-aggressive behaviors on the job. Management, as Business Insider details in this September 15 article, are also quitting on employees at a concerning rate—and there is a name for that too, “quiet firing.”  

Management attitude

Managerial behavior trends that accompany the quiet firing of an employee include rarely offering an employee feedback on their work, being unresponsive to meeting requests and emails, offering raises that are underwhelming compared to those received by other employees, and keeping an employee out of the loop on matters of concern.

For any employee on the receiving end of these behavior traits, they can prove immensely aggravating or anxiety-inducing, or both. But what might be surprising is how commonly managers are now employing such tactics.  

Bonnie Dilber, a recruiter who authored this Business Insider article,  conducted an informal survey on her LinkedIn page asking her followers if they had ever been on the receiving end of such treatment by a manager.

Widespread behaviors

She reports being “shocked to see that over half of the 1,200 respondents in her informal survey indicating that they had experienced these ‘quiet firing’ management traits personally.

A third of respondents reported that, in fact, it was happening right now at their respective companies. Were her informal surveys inflated and thus unnecessarily alarming?  Well, it turns out, no; in fact, Dilber cites several other studies of late that back up the prevalence of managers’ quiet firing behaviors.

Do you want to stay at the company?

All this matters because it raises the question of how a well-intentioned employee should respond when they are on the receiving end of such managerial dysfunction. The first, Dilber writes, is for employees to ask themselves a big picture question: Do they want to remain at the company?

Be pro-active

If the answer is yes, then employees should be pro-active with initiating discussion with their managers, and with human resource personnel if necessary, reinforcing in these discussion their commitment to their job, the sort of managerial behavioral trends they would like to see changed so they can be effective, and to seek openly their feedback and guidance.

Seek feedback

It also is a good idea to seek input from office colleagues and seek out mentors internally who may offer helpful counsel.

Quiet firing favors quiet quitting

Then there is what this means for managers who, whether consciously or unconsciously, are exhibiting these quiet firing managerial tactics. Managers who do not want quiet quitters need to ensure they are not quiet firing.

Individualized developments

Doing so means having a personalized development in plan for each employee. “If you don’t have strong systems to help your employees grow, give feedback, and be involved in the direction of the business, then your issue isn’t quiet quitting,”

Dilber writes. “You’re quiet firing all your workers.”

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