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Quiet firing: 4 signs it’s happening to you – and what to do

Are you getting quietly fired? (Picture: Getty/

You’ve probably heard the chatter about quiet quitting – when you essentially do the bare minimum at work.

The other side of the coin is quiet firing.

This is the act of nudging an employee out of the workplace; giving them less support and neglecting them to the point that they just give up and leave.

‘It works great for companies,’ explained recruiting expert Bonnie Dilber in a LinkedIn post. ‘Eventually you’ll either feel so incompetent, isolated, and unappreciated that you’ll go find a new job, and they never have to deal with a development plan or offer severance.

‘Or your performance will slip enough due to the lack of support that they’ll be able to let you go.’

Quiet firing can take many forms, but essentially it’s about not actively sacking someone, and instead using more underhand tactics to get them out.

‘Quiet firing is when a leader attempts to push an individual out of a company, by making a workplace so toxic that it makes the person want to leave, by using tactics that lower self-esteem, knock confidence, and burn employees out,’ Cara de Lange, an international burnout expert and the founder and CEO of Softer Success.

That toxicity can be blatant – workplace bullying, uncomfortable power plays, inappropriate expressions of anger – or it can appear in more subtle ways… think a total lack of positive feedback, no chats about your progression, or being left out of meetings.

In the latter case, it can be hard to tell when you’re a victim of quiet firing – especially when this is paired with a classic case of workplace gaslighting.

So, to help us identify this treatment, Cara breaks down four common signs that it’s happening to you.

Your manager constantly picks and criticises your work

‘In any job, it’s natural for management and leadership to offer critical feedback that will ultimately help you to improve in your job and progress in your career,’ Cara tells us. ‘Feedback makes us better at what we do, and helps us learn from our mistakes so we can advance.

‘Not enough feedback can actually hold you back in your career and stifle your ability to refine your skills.

‘But when a manager is constantly criticising your work, picking out minor things you do, and finds ways to diminish your achievements, then this could be a sign of a toxic manager who’s trying to push you out of the company.

‘This level of hyper-critical feedback is the opposite of constructive, and over time, it will lower your self-esteem, make you doubt yourself and lower your confidence, which can result in burnout and decreased work performance because you’re second-guessing yourself.’

When’s the last time you had a one-to-one with your boss? (Picture: Getty Images/Maskot)

You’ve had no raises, promotions, or even chats about these things

Does it feel like you’re never recognised for your work, no matter what you do?

If you’re consistently hitting targets and seeing no reward for this, you might be getting edged out.

‘If you find you’ve met targets and mastered your role, but have failed to receive a promotion or even a raise, then this could be another sign your boss is trying to quietly fire you,’ Cara says.

‘In your one-to-one meetings with your manager make sure you have clearly defined responsibilities and targets for your role, and that you discuss what the next step is for when you’ve met/exceeded those.’

Your one-to-one meetings are ignored or constantly cancelled

Cara tells us: ‘One-to-ones are incredibly important for both employees and managers to keep track of performance and to discuss any issues.

‘But if these opportunities to discuss your role are consistently cancelled, then this is a manager’s way of saying they’re not willing to invest time with you.

‘A company that sees somebody underperforming or not doing well will actually invest more time in trying to get that person where they need to be, and ensuring they’re adequately supported.’

You’re constantly being made an example of

‘It’s a relatively outdated approach, not to mention a hostile work practice, but some companies will make an example out of an employee,’ Cara reveals. ‘This may not be as obvious as calling out your mistakes, but do you ever find you make a mistake, only to see a group email being sent around reminding employees not to do the thing you just did?

‘If this happens repeatedly, it could be a sign that your manager is trying to make a hostile working environment and quietly fire you.

‘For example, I remember when this happened to me my manager used to call out that I always had some kind of doctors appointment – which wasn’t the case, I had been once to the doctor and then two weeks later happened to have my routine dentist appointment – but he called it out in front of the team, saying that I was always out of the office.’

Don’t accept it (Picture: Getty Images)

What to do if you think you’re being quietly fired

You’re ticking off the above signs and your suspicions are starting to build. Now what?

‘If a management or organisation is aware that these tactics are in place and aware of their outcomes, the fault lies with them,’ Cara notes. ‘They risk losing incredible employees, having a negative employer reputation and effectively damaging the work their company produces.

‘But there also may be instances where management do not realise the negative effect these practices are having on you or that they’re even doing them, so here’s what you can do…’

Keep a work journal

Make sure to keep a note of exactly what’s happening to make you feel unappreciated, excluded, or disliked – so you have a record of what’s going on.

Start keeping a journal of incidents and record how you feel. You can then point to these specific examples when you’re ready to talk to your manager.

Have a meeting with your manager

Push for a one-on-one, and don’t let your boss give you the slip. You have a right to be able to communicate your concerns.

Cara suggests: ‘Give examples of the negative scenarios and how they made you feel, and discuss how you can move forward.

‘A good manager knows that happy employees are good employees and will work on fixing these issues to help make your working experience more positive.’

If nothing changes, it’s time to go

‘If your discussion falls on deaf ears, then it might be time to consider leaving,’ Cara explains. ‘No employee should have to put up with underhanded tactics in order to move them out of a company.

‘In fact, as previously mentioned, if an employee isn’t meeting expectations, a good organisation will provide extra support and guidance to help bring out the best in their employees.

‘Remember most importantly, this reflects badly on the company, not you as an individual.’

If you’re being quietly fired, it’s not ‘giving up’ to loudly quit. Put your wellbeing first and refuse to accept treatment that makes you feel terrible – you deserve so much better.

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