TL;DR – All this talk about quiet quitting is quite inward-looking. Bosses too have an opinion about you, and they could be quiet firing without you knowing.
Many employers are quietly side-lining employees in hopes that they will quit on their own.
Workers can be terminated if they violate their contracts. But if bosses simply dislike workers, or see them as middling or mediocre performers, taking action to remove them is a lot more complicated and difficult. It often involves lengthy processes involving performance management programmes and multiple warnings.
They do it to avoid bad press
Companies that outrightly fire their workers could risk facing negative media attention and have their brand tarnished with a bad reputation. This is especially so if workers contest the firing.
Hence, subtly hinting at someone to leave is a less cumbersome and risk-free approach. While remote working is highly popular amongst workers, quiet firing is easily implemented in remote working situations.
Collateral damage of quiet firing
Other workers who are not targeted for quiet firing may read the wrong signals. They will start seeing the division between those who aren’t targeted and those who are facing quiet firing. As a result, the team dynamics will suffer.
This doesn’t create an inclusive or high-performance workplace culture.
Bosses may think that they got away with bad press and reputation. But savvy workers know their rights and they can leave a bad online review on work forums like Glassdoor. Since the pandemic, people are more willing to call out workplace issues so bosses should give this strategy a second thought.
It may not be entirely your fault
The best approach in dealing with poor-performing employees is for bosses to work on improving their output and transforming them into valuable assets for the company. Unfortunately, many bosses are ill-equipped to do this because of the lack of time or training. Great HR support and building a company culture where confrontation is accepted is time-consuming and costly. Training is also expensive, and persuading leaders to be open to it could be challenging.
Many organisations fail to prepare their leaders to take on responsibilities and perform leadership roles for the job. And managers/ bosses often find themselves with no resources that will help them deal with employees’ underperformance.
Another reason for quiet firing is that it allows managers/ bosses to avoid having difficult conversations. They worry that dismissing an employee will reflect poorly on them, so they choose to quiet fire as an easy way out.
What to do if you suspect you’re being targeted?
Never jump to conclusions and accuse your boss. The first step is to have a conversation with your boss. As hard as it may be, approach the conversation with an open mind and explain what you have been experiencing and ask your boss open-ended questions to find out his/ her perspective.
If there is no progressions or improvements after the conversation, you might consider involving human resources or your union, if there is one. It’d be best to bounce this idea off with your boss first. Phrase it like this, “Can we bring in someone from human resources or the union to help us understand each other better? It could help us resolve this conflict between us.”
What the union can do for you
Sounding this out to your union may allow them to consolidate the number of similar cases. You might not be the only one facing the same treatment in your company. Hence, unions can exercise collective bargaining, a process where an employer and a union negotiate the terms and conditions of employment. Once an agreement is reached, it will be valid between two to three years.
Most bosses resort to quiet firing because of an unresolved misunderstanding or conflict that caused a strain in the working relationship. Try to approach this matter objectively and deal with the matter professionally.