„Quiet Firing“ literally means firing someone without firing them. What is meant by „quiet firing“ is that a person is denied all opportunities for advancement and development in the job.
What does Quiet Firing mean? Meaning, definition, explanation
When utilizing Quiet Firing, the bosses are counting on disagreeable employees to leave the company on their own. There are different approaches to achieve this. Sometimes only one method is used, but combinations are also possible.
To understand the motives behind quiet firing, it is important to know that employees are usually protected by law against termination without cause.
In most companies, a probationary period is contractually agreed at the start of employment. This often extends over six months. It is used by the employer and employee to find out whether the job actually suits the newly hired employee.
During the probationary period, both parties can terminate the employment relationship with a notice period of a few weeks without giving reasons.
The only exception is termination without notice. Here, the employment relationship is terminated immediately. However, this is only possible for serious reasons and must also be justified during the probationary period. It is often preceded by a warning. This document instructs the employee to refrain from certain misconduct, otherwise consequences will follow.
After the end of the probationary period, the Dismissal Protection Act applies to companies with more than ten employees. It serves to safeguard jobs and protect employees from arbitrary dismissal. A termination after the probationary period must be justified by the employer on the basis of real facts. The reason for termination must be provable, if necessary.
Motives of the employer for quiet firing
Once the probationary period has been successfully completed, it is no longer so easy for many companies to part with employees who have become disagreeable.
Particularly since some contracts also stipulate severance payments of considerable amounts. The employee then receives a certain amount if he or she loses the job.
After the end of the probationary period, the notice period is sometimes several months. If personnel are to be replaced urgently, it is still important to adhere to this period.
In quiet firing, HR managers try to avoid the above issues by getting the person in question to leave the company of his or her own accord. An employer-side termination with its possible consequences for the company is thus to be modified into an employee-side termination of the employment relationship.
But conflict aversion on the part of superiors can also be a reason for Quiet Firing. Instead of a possibly unpleasant clarification of problems, the focus is on a new start with another person.
Signs of Quiet Firing
So-called quiet firing can be brought on by supervisors in many ways.
Important, new or fulfilling tasks are assigned to other colleagues and instead the affected employee is asked to do obviously pointless, but time-consuming work. This has the effect of steadily decreasing the employee’s motivation. Particularly since appreciation is also denied by the top management.
A general too much or too little work can also indicate quiet firing.
Invitations to team meetings or other business meetings do not materialize. The employee increasingly has the feeling of being sidelined.
Instead of constructive criticism, the supervisor only makes accusations. The accusations may well be unfounded.
Employee meetings are repeatedly postponed or canceled without a new date. Participation in advanced training or other professional development is denied.
Salary increases and promotion opportunities are denied in the long term.
Options for affected employees
If you suspect that you are affected by quiet firing, the first thing you should do is talk to your colleagues. It may not be the individual who is the problem, but a generally poisoned working atmosphere. Perhaps a discussion among colleagues or a targeted meeting can help to resolve disagreements.
However, if it is clear that only one person is affected by the harassment at the boss level, it is worthwhile for him or her to first record all incidents in writing. Then the conversation is sought.
Depending on the structure of the company, persons of trust from the works council or the human resources department can be called in.
It is also possible to speak directly to the manager immediately. However, the latter requires some courage and self-control. With the help of the notes prepared beforehand, the problem is described in an objective and fact-based manner. Even if it is understandably difficult, reproaches and accusations should be avoided.
In some cases, the courage to be offensive is rewarded, namely when the quiet firing was not deliberate. However, it may also be that the conversation does not bring a solution or even reinforces the oppressive suspicion. In these cases, it may become necessary to focus on a professional reorientation.
Quiet Firing from the Employer’s Perspective
For the employer, this type of personnel management may solve a personnel problem in the short term. In the long run, however, it has no potential for success. This is because quiet firing poisons the atmosphere in the company, and employees become unsettled and demotivated. This lowers team morale and efficiency.
If the method becomes public, it is not only the damage to the company’s image that is great. Especially in times of a shortage of skilled workers, it becomes difficult or impossible for such companies to recruit motivated and qualified employees.