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Quiet Firing: What It Is & How To Spot It

Quiet firing is a sneaky tactic companies use to nudge employees to quit without a formal termination. This article explores what quiet firing is, how it differs from quiet quitting, the reasons behind it, and the warning signs to watch out for. It also offers solutions for both employees experiencing quiet firing and managers who want to avoid resorting to it.

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Quiet firing is a sneaky tactic companies use to nudge employees to quit without a formal termination. This article explores what quiet firing is, how it differs from quiet quitting, the reasons behind it, and the warning signs to watch out for. It also offers solutions for both employees experiencing quiet firing and managers who want to avoid resorting to it.

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What is Quiet Firing?

Quiet firing is a covert and damaging practice where a company subtly pushes an employee to leave without officially terminating them. This can include tactics like denying salary increases, delaying promotions, and withholding constructive feedback. The employer uses tactics designed to make the work environment so unwelcoming that the employee considers leaving voluntarily, thus avoiding direct confrontation or termination. Addressing quiet firing is challenging, but HR can counter it by implementing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training, fostering open communication, and refining performance evaluations. These steps help build a healthier and more transparent work environment. 


Quiet Firing vs Quiet Quitting 

Quiet firing and quiet quitting are two sides of the same coin. While quiet firing is initiated by the employer where a company pushes an employee to leave without officially terminating them, quiet quitting is initiated by the employee. Quiet quitting isn't about quitting at all, but rather an employee silently checking out of their role. Instead of the usual goodbyes and explanations, they fly under the radar. This might involve a secret job search, a resignation with minimal fuss, or keeping their departure reasons under wraps.

Why Does Quiet Firing Happen?

The decision to engage in quiet firing reflects a complex interplay of organizational priorities and strategies. Here are a few reasons why companies engage in it:

  • Cost Reduction: During periods of financial strain or restructuring, companies may opt for quiet firing to reduce expenses associated with severance packages and legal proceedings. Quiet firing allows them to trim their workforce indirectly, potentially avoiding the financial burden of mandated payouts and unemployment benefits.

  • Conflict Avoidance: Quiet firing can be seen as a way to bypass the often confrontational situations associated with traditional terminations. By pushing an employee to resign, companies hope to preserve workplace harmony and avoid negative publicity that might follow from a direct layoff.

  • Strategic Realignment: In scenarios where organizational goals or priorities shift, quiet firing may be used to strategically realign the workforce with new objectives. This allows companies to subtly reshape their teams' compositions and skill sets to match the new direction, without attracting undue attention or disrupting morale.

  • Legal Risk Mitigation: Quiet firing can be a tactic used to minimize the risk of potential legal disputes or wrongful termination claims that may arise from explicit termination decisions. By creating a situation that prompts the employee to leave voluntarily, the company aims to avoid lawsuits or legal challenges.

However, it's important to remember that quiet firing can backfire. It can damage employee morale, hurt recruitment efforts, and lead to decreased productivity. Open communication and addressing performance issues directly are generally more effective strategies in the long run.


 5 Signs of That Quiet Firing Is Happening To You

Quiet firing can take many forms, often combining several of the following scenarios:

  1. Isolation or Exclusion: Your employer deliberately distancing you from team activities, meetings, social events, and decision-making processes.

  2. Reduction in Responsibilities: Being assigned less meaningful work without valid explanations, leaving you underutilized.

  3. Marginalization in Meetings: Your contributions in discussions are consistently overlooked or dismissed.

  4. Increased Criticism and Micromanagement: You are subjected to heightened scrutiny, criticism, or micromanagement, leading to feelings of frustration and alienation.

  5. Unattainable Performance Standards: Introducing unattainable performance expectations unexpectedly. 


How To Address Quiet Firing

How you address quiet firing depends on whether you are the employee or the employer. Here’s how to navigate it from both sides:

If you are the employee:


  • Document Everything: Keep a record of any changes in workload, project assignments, or communication styles that might be signs of quiet firing.

  • Open Communication: If you suspect quiet firing, try a direct approach. Schedule a meeting with your manager to discuss your concerns. Ask for clear feedback on your performance and express your desire for growth within the company.

  • Consider Your Options: Depending on the conversation with your manager and the overall work environment, you might decide to look for new opportunities elsewhere. Quiet firing can be a sign that the company isn't invested in your development.

If you are the manager:


  • Open Communication: Regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings can help establish open communication and identify any roadblocks employees might be facing.

  • Direct Feedback: Avoid resorting to quiet firing. If there are performance issues or a role mismatch, have an honest conversation with the employee. Offer clear expectations, development opportunities, and support.

  • Focus on Development: Invest in your employees' growth. Provide opportunities for skill development and career advancement within the company. This can help boost morale and engagement.

Fostering a culture of open communication and addressing performance issues directly is a more effective approach than resorting to quiet firing. It benefits both employees and the organization in the long run. A win-win for both parties.



Quiet firing is a damaging practice that breeds resentment and hurts productivity. It can be demoralizing and detrimental to your career. Open communication and addressing performance issues head-on are far more effective for both employees and employers. Building a healthy work environment with transparent communication benefits everyone. Don't be a victim of quiet firing! This article equips you with the knowledge to identify and address it.


Written by

Monica Wanjiku

Monica is a seasoned marketing expert with a knack for strategy and relationship-building, she has over 5 years of experience in marketing and advertising in the green manufacturing sectors. She thrives in delivering exceptional results. When she's not dominating the boardroom, you'll find her lost in the pages of African novels, drawing inspiration for her writing. With a passion for community impact and positive change, Monica is ready to make waves wherever she goes.

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