Workplace stress is something everyone goes through. Whether you work from home or work in the office every day, it’s normal to experience some stress as part of a corporate company. But if you’ve sensed a sudden change in your manager’s mood, there may be more behind the scenes. This article explains what might be happening and the signs to look out for.
What is “Quiet Firing”?
According to global workplace analytics firm Gallup, the “quiet layoff” is a new term for a decades-old workplace phenomenon. where employers try to worsen working conditions for workers they want to “leave” the company. Whether it’s downsizing the company or trying to avoid redundant positions, a quiet layoff is a way for management to avoid the hassle of firing or reassigning an employee.
Now, you may have already heard of “quiet resignation,” or when employees begin to purposefully become ineffective and absent from their positions to justify their departure. Quiet dismissal and silent termination actually go hand in hand – when an employer begins to quietly fire an employee, the employee has no choice but to react in kind.
Quiet dismissal is petty, unethical and shows signs of weak leadership. This could affect an employee’s mental health, as well as damage a company’s reputation. How does one detect this? Watch out for the signs below.
Your manager’s attitude changes around you
Great managers take the time to check in with each member of their team, no matter how busy their schedule is. These scheduled check-ins mean that the company values its employees and wants to see if there are opportunities they can give you to help you grow, so if you’re the only one on the team who’s missing, that could be a sign.
The complete opposite could also happen. Instead of being overly aloof, your manager could start being hypercritical of everything you do. From project references to endless email inquiries, they can start picking every detail out of nowhere.
Your projects begin to be reassigned
Being assigned fewer projects may seem like a win at first, but it’s not as peachy as it sounds. Ultimately, the value you bring to your team is directly related to the impact you have on your work. Projects give employees a specific purpose, so reassigning yours without notice is a big red flag. This also means fewer opportunities to let your skills shine and showcase what you bring to the table.
Task reassignments also result in being banned from email threads and task trackers you were previously in, as well as missing meeting invites. Some managers do this slowly over months of slow contact, while some throw employees off the rails in a matter of days. A change in your calendar compared to your team’s should start to set off some alarm bells.
Your manager asks you to track your hours
When managers suddenly ask you to track your hours and activities once you start, there’s a good chance they’re looking for a reason to scrutinize your work. Doing so gives employers the excuse to use empty calendar blocks, empty to-do lists and less-than-perfect references as reasons to downgrade everything you do.
The biggest sign that you’re getting laid off quietly? HR communications are becoming more frequent. It can start as harmless updates that later escalate into sudden encounters about workplace behavior and even degraded work. Managers who want to lay off employees will involve HR in an attempt to make the downsizing seem more diplomatic.
There is no doubt that silent firing is an unethical and harmful leadership practice. It promotes dishonesty in management and can reduce one’s motivation to continue to put one’s best foot forward at work. I hope you never have to experience this, but now that you know the signs, spot them while they’re early and make sure you find remedies. I support you!