What is quiet firing? Is it a good idea for your business?

Quiet firing

Just like quiet quitting, quiet firing is not a new phenomenon, just a new, fitting name to sum up certain workplace practices. Unlike quiet quitting, however, quiet firing can actively hurt your business many ways. Read on to learn how it works and how you can build a better organization.

What exactly is quiet firing?

Quiet firing refers to a situation when a workplace environment develops in a way that will make one or more employees inevitably quit. It often targets one or more specific employees, but it can indirectly affect the entire workplace. Creating such an environment may be intentional or not, and quiet firing may manifest various ways.

In either case, this practice poses serious risks of hurting your business in the long run, and as such, it may be considered a form of mismanagement of available resources, which includes the work force as well.

How does quiet firing manifest?

Quiet firing creates a working environment in which employees feel that their work is not appreciated, they cannot accomplish anything meaningful, and they are isolated from the rest of the team. Typical scenarios include:

  • Denied promotion, raises, or development opportunities, especially if this concerns only some employees, but not all of them
  • Lack of support from management: receiving no resources or guidance for performing tasks and/or solving problems
  • No feedback from management (neither positive nor negative)
  • Dangling promises: always receiving “not now”, “maybe next week”, or similar responses to queries
  • Mundane work: assigning the worst part of tasks always to one employee instead of rotating it
  • Increased bureaucracy or micromanagement which complicates work instead of simplifying it
  • Exclusion from the team, whether it is by finding them a desk away from others, assigning them strange hours or shifts, or organizing after-work activities in a way that they cannot fully participate

What are the main reasons for quiet firing?

The main reasons for quiet firing depend mostly on whether it is intentional or not. However, there is some overlap:

  • Conflict avoidance: if a manager does not want to engage in an open conflict with an employee.
  • Cost saving: if an employee quits on their own, the employer is not required to pay severance, while the employee may be required to work until their last day, which saves on labor costs.
  • Dubious potential: if the employee seems not to meet expectations, managers might cease to invest more time, effort, and money in them.

How does quiet firing harm your business?

While the above reasons are legitimate considerations for any business, quite firing is only one of the possible answers. Unfortunately, it poses more risks than benefits, as it may:

  • Lower employee morale when the team sees how their peer is managed
  • Ruin teamwork
  • Result in collateral turnover if the resignation of the mismanaged employee starts a domino effect
  • Burn bridges, without the option of maintaining a good professional relationship with the terminated employee – which IS an option if the employment is terminated by mutual agreement
  • Waste potential: by not providing the right type of managerial support, the employee is deprived of learning opportunities, and the business is deprived of a committed team member whose growth has been supported by the company
  • Damage your employer brand, which will lead to struggles with recruitment and retainment

Quiet firing is even less reasonable when you have employees who are third-country nationals and are in Hungary with a work permit. Since their residency is conditional on their employment, they are normally more motivated to keep their job, which makes demotivating them until they resign an even harder task than normally.

How to avoid quiet firing and reduce harm to your business?

The first question is whether quiet firing is realized intentionally or not. If it is by design, you as a manager should decide whether the risks outweigh the potential benefits. However, if you intend to build an organization with committed team members, being open about issues is the first step, and quiet firing goes obviously against that.

If quiet firing practices are not intentional, it is best countered by fostering a culture of open communication, constructive feedback, and an attitude that focuses on solving problems instead of placing the blame. In this, managers need to lead by example. Some possible steps include:

  • Introducing regular feedback on performance, which is less about grading, and more about identifying existing skills to be praised and areas where more development is expected
  • Providing development opportunities, whether this considers hard or soft skills
  • Sharing business performance data with employees, so they can see how the business is doing and whether asking for a raise is indeed reasonable
  • Facing conflicts whenever necessary

In some cases, it is indeed inevitable to severe ties with an employee when they are not a good match for the organization. However, that should be a management decision, and as such, it should be realized without any hedging. Arriving at a mutual agreement and saying goodbye on as good terms as possible is preferable to dragging it out and risking harm to your entire organization in the meantime. Moreover, if the employee is stubborn enough to not quit their own, the risks will soon outweigh any possible benefits.

Lead your business to long-term, sustainable success

Whether quiet firing practices at your company are intentional or not, considering long-term effects they are a form of mismanagement. It is a waste of resources, while it also poses risks to the business, which would be avoidable by better conflict and resource management, and through investment into building an organization of engaged team members.

Helpers Hungary offers support to businesses operating in Hungary with all kinds of administrative tasks, from work permit application for foreign employees to payroll and HR related support. Contact us today, tell us about your needs, and let us come up with a solution together.

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