Quiet Quitting is having a cultural moment, but let’s also talk about what’s NOT being said about the dark counterpart of Quiet Firing.
Quiet Quitting is employees setting boundaries at work. It has both good and bad aspects. It’s also nothing new. GenXers were called ‘slackers,’ Boomers were ‘hippies with no work ethic,’ and we’ve all been chanting the ‘stress is a killer’/’work life balance’ mantras for over half a century.
You can’t discuss Quiet Quitting without also talking about Quiet Firing.
Bosses have frequently engaged in it for a long time. At least twice in my career, I was shown the door not by being told “you’re fired” but by just reading the writing on the wall that what I had to contribute wasn’t appreciated or valued.
What is Quiet Firing? Managers and bosses who participate in Quiet Firing share this in common. They don’t value their people. They don’t see any profit in treating them well. They don’t lead, develop, coach, or train their employees. They, directly or indirectly, expect them to quit on their own so they can replace them like the cogs they are perceived to be.
While rarely do employers do this on purpose, and many employers at least acknowledge they should fight this trend, some don’t even realize this is what they are doing it. They’re creating environments where Quiet Quitting exists by default. The workplaces where development, promotion, raises, and well-being are an afterthought at best is a fertile ground for this Quiet Firing nincompoopery.
When faced with the challenge of a workplace or boss who doesn’t care if they engage, employees have very few options. They can “quit” in place and still collect a check, taking the hint that moving up means “get out.” They coast until they find a way out. When this happens, it is a shame and a waste of talent and drive. It costs everyone in the end. It certainly costs the business a lot of money.
It’s crucial to look at both sides of this organizationally toxic coin because when these two trends come together in a business, they create a cultural movement that also needs a new name: “Quiet Failure.”
So what can we, employers and employees alike, do about this?
Employers must give their staff a reason to stay by caring about them, telling them, listening to them, and showing it with their actions. They’re an asset to be invested in and celebrated. If you’re not doing that as an active management practice, you’re participating in Quiet Firing, whether you admit it to yourself or not.
Employees need to be honest with themselves and their employers. If your workplace isn’t allowing you to do your best work or is causing you to burn out, seriously consider moving on and act on it strategically. Remember, even if you ‘quiet quit’ to set boundaries, never quit on yourself in the process. Do good work for yourself, not your boss.
If you’re quitting, find a way out and move on.
If you’re not happy with your employee’s performance, then address it and stop expecting somebody else better to just magically come along.
Being honest about our problems might just be how we keep Quiet Failure from costing us a lot in the end.