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You May Not Be ‘Quiet Quitting’ — But Is Your Boss ‘Quiet Firing’ You?

A young woman looks frustrated while sitting at a desk with a computer

Workplace culture is shifting — and not just for employees. While 2022 has seen a surge in employees rejecting the hustle-culture mindset that we once took as standard (see: people are leaving the jobs they hate as part of “The Great Resignation” and they’re putting in the bare minimum as a way to counter burnout — AKA “quiet quitting”), it looks like there’s also a growing trend for employers: “quiet firing.”

Related: Thinking of quitting your job? See this financial checklist first.

What is quiet firing in the workplace?

Quiet firing is when employers demoralize their employees until they decide that they want to leave on their own, or feel like they have no other choice but to quit.

Quiet firing isn’t exactly a new concept (you may also hear the concept referred to as “constructive dismissal” or “managing out”), and it isn’t always clear cut, but if you feel like you’re being gaslit into unhappiness at work or if your boss is passive-aggressively making you not want to come to work, you may be in the process of a quiet firing.

If you are being quiet fired, take heart: this likely says more about your workplace and management than it does about you.

“Honestly, if you are quietly firing people, it’s either bad management in that you’re trying to not pay them the layoff or you just don’t want to deal with this head-on,” Linda Nazareth, a Toronto-based economist and host of the Work and the Future podcast, told Global News. “And you are allowing people to be there who you don’t really want to have there. So something’s not right.”

You may also like: The gender pay gap is still alive in 2022: here’s how we bridge it.

Upset woman at her desk


What are some signs that you’re being quiet fired?

Do you feel like you’re being pushed out, but you’re not sure? As outlined in Global News and Forbes, there are some common signs of quiet firing you can watch out for. 

  • Ignoring or postponing career advancement requests. Have you earned a raise or promotion, but you keep getting the run-around?
  • Raising workloads to levels that you can’t reasonably keep up with. High performance expectations are one thing, but is your workload literally impossible to manage?
  • Cutting back on hours. Are your work hours being habitually slashed for no apparent reason?
  • Micromanaging. Are they constantly on your back about tiny tasks?
  • Giving you the worst tasks. There are always tasks that are less desirable at work – but do you always get assigned them, just because?
  • Leaving you out of the loop. Should you be part of the conversation or cc’d on that email, but you’re suddenly not? Are you left out of meetings that you should be part of?
  • Talking about you behind your back. Do you hear rumblings about your boss talking negatively about you? Do they constantly criticize you?

Of course, there are sometimes legitimate reasons why you may not get a raise or you may be left out of the loop which may not necessarily mean you’re being quiet fired – but patterns of habitual passive-aggressive treatment from management could indicate that it may be the case.

Related: Pandemic has a negative impact on women in the workplace: research.

What can you do if you feel you’re being quiet fired?

Part of what makes quiet firing so tricky is that it’s hard to pinpoint — and thus it’s hard to counter. While there may not be much you can do, Forbes suggests considering trying to clear the air if you feel you’re out of options: “Share with your manager that you feel that you’re being unfairly persecuted. Provide facts, data and any correspondence from co-workers and clients that show you are in fact a productive worker and good at your job.”

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