If you've noticed your boss isn't acknowledging your hard work and contributions like they used to, they might be quiet firing you.
According to Team Building, a team development company, quiet firing is a "passive-aggressive approach to performance management." This concept can show up in different ways — both deliberately and inadvertently. Instead of outright firing employees, these managers will make the workplace as unpleasant as possible, by encouraging employees to quit or neglecting them through lack of feedback or resources.
Annie Rosencrans, director of people and culture at HiBob, says that despite the new terminology, quiet firing is a concept that's existed for quite some time. A recent LinkedIn News poll with over 20,000 respondents found that 48% of employees have seen quiet firing in the workplace, and 35% have faced it during their careers.
"I think this idea of quiet firing is done unintentionally, or subconsciously, by managers who are fearful or hesitant to give direct feedback when things aren't going well with an employee," Rosencrans tells CNBC Make It. "Managers who know that someone's not working out and know they want them to leave… [may] just ignore them, in hopes that they will leave on their own. That's a very unhealthy thing."
Here are three things you should know about quiet firing that could help you in the workplace.
What to look out for
Though it can be hard to decipher whether or not you're being quiet fired, experts say there are several hints to watch out for. According to Rosencrans and Paul Lewis, chief customer officer at Adzuna, employees should look out for these red flags:
- You haven't seen a salary increase after one to two years.
- You don't receive any meaningful feedback from your manager.
- Your manager avoids engaging with you.
- You've been singled out to answer tough questions at team or company meetings.
- Your ideas are disregarded.
- You aren't being challenged or given additional opportunities and projects.
- You're left out of meetings, events and/or social gatherings.
How to avoid it
There are several things an employee can do to try to avoid quiet firing, the biggest one being communicating, according to Lewis.
"If you're being quiet fired, you're more likely to quiet quit. It's really tough, but you've got departments like HR that you can go to," Lewis explains. "You can make sure you've got your complaints logged and that they're aware of how you're feeling. And a good company will take those complaints seriously."
Lewis also recommends employees talk to their managers directly to try to fix the issue.
"Talk to your manager, challenge them, ask for growth, continue to push, and try to show them how ambitious, how engaged and how up for the mission you are."
Quiet firing is management's issue, not yours
Being mistreated or ignored at work can put a damper on an employee's mental health, which will require them to make the tough decision of remaining persistent or leaving the role. However, Lewis reassures workers that quiet firing, which he refers to as "workplace bullying" is more telling of your manager's work ethic than yours.
"Ultimately, if [the quiet firing] continues, then I would question the individual in that role," Lewis explains. "Do you really want to be working for a toxic company? Do you really want to be working for a business that doesn't respect you? That doesn't embody the values that you probably have yourself?"
Rosencrans adds that managers should ensure they're creating opportunities for "development, growth and learning," especially for millennial and Gen Z employees if they want to retain workers.
"Managers should open up opportunities for employees who are ambitious and want to continue developing. That's a really effective retention tool and engagement tool," Rosencrans says. "And if it's an underperforming employee, that inquiry from them to their manager may open up the door for their manager to say, 'Hey, I appreciate that you want to grow and develop into these new areas. But first, I really need you to focus on your core responsibilities. And these are the gaps that I'm seeing.'"
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