The New Workplace
“Quiet Firing” Can Be as Toxic as “Quiet Quitting”
The phrase “quiet quitting” burst into the business lexicon in 2022. It was hard to escape the media frenzy about the supposed new trend of disengaged workers punching the clock and no longer putting forth their best efforts. Less talked about, however, is a related issue that AE firm leaders also need to monitor—“quiet firing.” According to a November 2022 report by Gallup, quiet firing occurs when “managers fail to adequately provide coaching, support, and career development to an employee, which results in pushing the employee out of an organization.” In the most egregious instances, managers seeking to avoid uncomfortable conversations or severance payments intentionally create a hostile work environment to induce workers to quit. More common—but no less damaging—are managers who engage in quiet firing without even knowing they are doing it.
Gallup identified three primary contributors to quiet firing. First is when managers fail to routinely discuss goal progress and deliver performance feedback with employees. Gallup reports that employees who receive meaningful feedback at least weekly are nearly half as likely to be job-hunters. Second is when managers withhold development opportunities. According to Gallup, only 37% of managers strongly agree that they invest in their employees’ development, and even fewer employees (25%) strongly agree. Third is when managers don’t provide enough individualized recognition. Here there is a big disconnect. Gallup reports that while 60% of managers believe they do a good job recognizing direct reports when they do good work, only 34% of employees strongly agree.
Quiet firing can create a toxic work environment and damage your firm’s reputation. To prevent it from occurring, look for instances of quiet quitting among your managerial ranks. Managers are hardly immune from burnout or work-life balance struggles, particularly in short-staffed firms struggling with massive backlogs. Burned-out managers are going to be more disengaged from their reports. As the Gallup report states, “When your managers quiet quit, they quiet fire their team.”
Get yourself connected
Two-way communication that is honest and constant is the key to prevent quiet firing. This can be particularly challenging inside firms with hybrid and remote workforces, so leaders need to make sure that managers are taking the time to connect one-on-one with their reports, foster their career development, and provide constructive feedback and recognition in both formal evaluations and informal check-ins. Managers also need to be trained in how to deliver honest feedback so that they don’t avoid difficult conversations with their reports.
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