Quiet quitting in the past few weeks has been gaining traction in discussions around the workplace. For the most part, many employers have associated quiet quitting and the generations who have been practicing it with laziness and a lack of work ethic. And sure, quiet quitting can be hard for employers to deal with. But most of the time, these workers are merely using this strategy for self-preservation. After all, quiet quitting is a more proactive response to avoiding burnout and worker exploitation. But a toxic response has seemingly arisen out of quiet quitting: quiet firing.
That is, if an employer is unhappy with an employee’s work ethic or quality of work, they might be, as MaryAnn Kerr offers in an interview with CBC Radio, quietly fired. This can take many forms, but ultimately, the employer is aiming to get the employee to quit. Most of the time this is because they don’t have grounds to fire them on. More importantly, this can waste years of an individual’s potential at a dead-end and can lead to abuse and mismanagement.
So, what are some red flags for you, an employee, should look out for? And what steps should you take if you think your employer is edging you out? We’ve got all the answers you need right here.
Top 4 Common Signs of Quiet Firing
Quiet firing can take many forms. Most of the time, it’s a sudden shift in tone or treatment that specifically aims to make you unhappy with your workplace. Sometimes, employees continue working at their workplace to see if things get better.
Still, whether a workplace improves or not, this can mean having to endure weeks, months, even years of emotional and psychological abuse. So, be sure to keep an eye out for the following red flags:
1. There is a sudden shift in attitude or treatment towards you
In Kerr’s case, her former employer allegedly yelled at her over the phone and purposely called her “honey” even when she asked them to stop. Of course, not every employer will be as direct with their approach. Sometimes, employers may start to undermine or ignore you. So, if your employer is suddenly and seemingly without reason mistreating you, they may be doing so on purpose.
2. You’re often being left out or forgotten
Often, when employers are trying to make employees unhappy enough to quit, they start by isolating them or making them feel replaceable. This might be “forgetting” to invite them to meetings to slowly edge them out of important conversations. Employees might start feeling disconnected and less likely to want to continue coming to work.
3. You’re constantly overlooked for a salary increase or promotion
It should go without saying that if you’ve worked steadily for one organization for months, let alone years, you should ask for a raise. And if your employer does not offer nor accept a request for a raise or compensation of any kind, this may also be a tactic to get you to quit. And TikTokker DeAndre Brown recognizes this as a way organizations manipulate their workers. So, whether your employer is overlooking you for a raise or promotion intentionally or unintentionally, you deserve better.
“If this is happening to you, your company is taking advantage of you, and you need to loudly quit! What is loudly quitting, you wonder? Packing your belongings and leaving!” – DeAndre Brown
4. Your shifts/hours work are being significantly cut
This is particularly common in retail, factory, and other shift-work. After all, if an employer just starts assigning you shorter or less frequent shifts, you might have no choice but to start looking for work elsewhere. So, if, especially after requesting more shifts, you continue to see your work hours decreasing, your employer might be doing so intentionally.
Moving Forward with a Healthier Workplace
As discouraging and disheartening as it can be to be forced out of a workplace, leaving can be a very brave and important step for a better career. After all, who wants to continue working where they feel unappreciated and unwanted? However, before sending in your two-week notice, make sure to talk to your employer first. After all, as Jessica Kriegel, Chief Scientist of Workplace Culture at Culture Partners offers TIME Magazine, what’s truly at the heart of “quiet firing” is poor communication.
Start by addressing your concerns to your employer themselves. If nothing fruitful comes from this conversation, try bringing your concerns to your HR department or an ombudsman—anyone whose responsibility it is to ensure you are being treated with equity and dignity. Address any concerns you may have, and see if you can do anything to improve, as well. If after time still nothing changes, it may be time to look elsewhere for a better work environment.
When the time comes to find a new job, then, make sure you’re upfront about your expectations on pay, hours, and workload. As long as these are within reason, you should be on the right path to a better, more healthy workplace experience. And remember: if your employer is making you want to quit your job, you deserve better. Take this as a chance to improve your work-life, and go for it!