quiet firing

What is quiet firing?

We all know about unexpected layoffs, but we didn’t realize there was such a thing as quiet firing. Or maybe we did, but we didn’t call it that, nor did we stop to analyze it. That is precisely what we will discuss in this article.

In the business world, dismissals are as natural as hiring. After all, they are a company’s tool for terminating the contractual relationship with an employee. Why? Because, for various reasons, they no longer meet the company’s expectations or can no longer respond satisfactorily to the company’s needs. 

The contexts in which an employee can be fired are very diverse since the causes of a dismissal, the interpretations on which they are based, or the level of effectiveness of such a measure can take many forms. There are fair and unfair layoffs, expected or unexpected, desired or traumatic, and even “agreed” between the company and the employee. 

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quiet firing

What is quiet firing?

In addition to those just mentioned, another form of “firing” does not imply the end of the employee-company relationship. It does not always involve paperwork, is not always based on explicit messages, and sometimes ends with the employee’s resignation instead of their actual dismissal. 

We are talking about quiet firing. Of course, it is not a new phenomenon. Still, it is worth analyzing from the current perspective of workers’ welfare because of the company’s role in it and its importance for the company’s progress. 

To describe its nuances, quiet firing could also be called indirect dismissal, dismissal by the back door, or, why not, pseudo-dismissal. It consists, in short, of a withdrawal of the support that every company must provide its employees. This is based on reducing and preventing, by various means, the professional development of an employee, canceling any possibility that their experience within the company will be satisfactory

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No investment is made in them: neither in training, nor in infrastructure, nor affection, nor any other type of economic, social, or emotional conditions. 

Quiet firing, in its most extreme cases, is quite rightly described as a form of mobbing or harassment at work. 

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In a way, quiet firing consists of “firing” the worker de facto (although not always de jure) and leaving them to disappear professionally in the hope, in many cases, that they themselves will leave the company and save the company the cost of taking the initiative and firing them. 

However, it is unclear whether such savings will occur or be beneficial. The strictly economic cost of the actual firing may indeed disappear. Still, the company needs to consider the enormous financial, corporate, and psychological cost that quiet firing has in the long term for both the company and the employee who suffers it. 

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In fact, even if real compensation for the dismissal of a specific employee is very costly economically, it is necessary to consider the damage caused by not investing in the talent of that employee by weakening their participation and emotional bond with the company

Methods of carrying out silent firing

1. Subtle quiet firing

This would be the least serious case, i.e., the one with the least psychological and economic consequences for both the employee and the company. In colloquial terms, we could describe it as “We fired you silently”, or “We fired you silently but not in a very explicit or aggressive way”. 

In these cases, the appearance of the employment relationship is more or less positive, and there are certain expectations or possibilities for professional development. Still, they are not fulfilled, are only half fulfilled, are fulfilled very slowly, or are fulfilled slowly or equivocal manner. 

Therefore, there is quiet firing to the extent of an openly unadmitted desire not to care for the employee professionally and affectively. Still, it is difficult for the employee to prove or argue or even to be sure that this situation is occurring.

2. Aggressive silent firing

This would be the case of a deteriorated working relationship with little or no room for progress or improvement. Working conditions are stagnant, and the company’s disinterest in the employee’s professional development is explicit

As a result, not only is there a lack of investment in the employee’s talent, but their performance becomes minimal, as they do not have the necessary support. Aggressive silent dismissal would be closer to harassment at work or, at least, to a situation in which the employee’s psychological well-being deteriorates intensely: the employee lacks incentives to perform their job, motivation drops drastically, and the risk of suffering problems related to stress, burnout or depression increases if the situation is prolonged over time or if it becomes very hostile on behalf part of the company.

quiet firing

Caring for emotional well-being in organizations 

At ifeel, we believe that what is essential for good career development is to forge a profitable and constructive working relationship for both the employee and the company. When this process is interrupted, it is detrimental to the psychological well-being of individuals.  

To understand this concept, our team of psychologists, experts in well-being at work, has created an emotional well-being program for companies that can guide HR managers in this task and help the rest of the company’s members.

With this service, HR managers can receive personalized, data-driven advice on improving the psychological well-being of the teams in their charge. If you are part of the HR department in your organization, we recommend that you try our program now and see how it could help you.

This program offers all employees a complete mental health care service that they can access in different ways depending on their needs. Those who wish to have access to an online therapy service with one of our psychologists specialized in cases like theirs or interact with one of our professionals to receive emotional support in a more specific circumstance that worries them.

Of course, in our Resources section, you can find different materials that will help you with many of your day-to-day functions as part of the HR department. For example, podcasts, HR guides on various topics (e.g., employee experience or how to design a good HR strategy), or Interviews with leading HR executives. In addition, we have a Psychosocial Risk Factors Template, which you can use to comply with the requirements of the Labor Inspectorate.

We hope you found this post on quiet firing interesting. If you would like more information about our emotional well-being program for companies, simply request it, and we will contact your team as soon as possible.

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