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How to Avoid Unintentional Quiet Firing and Retain Talent

Updated: May 18, 2023

Quiet Firing

Key Insights

  • "Quiet Firing" describes a form of neglect that leaves employees with no choice other than quitting

  • Withholding coaching and development opportunities can rapidly contribute to quiet firing

  • Explore effective strategies for preventing unintentional quiet firing and retaining top talent


Which came first, Quiet Quitting or Quiet Firing?

The debate around "Quiet Quitting" vs. "Quiet Firing" has been making waves in the HR world. "Quiet Quitting" refers to when an employee gradually withdraws from their organisation, both mentally and emotionally, despite not officially quitting their job (not yet, anyway). It appears to be a response to a growing trend known as "Quiet Firing".

So, what exactly is "Quiet Firing"? It's when an organisation neglects to engage and support its employees, leading to decreased job satisfaction and motivation until they eventually leave willingly. This concept can show up in different ways — both intentional and unintentional. In the worst-case scenario, managers create toxic work environments that make it unbearable for employees to continue. In others, without meaning to, leaders may create unfulfilling work conditions that drive employees to seek better opportunities.

Here are some signs of "Quiet Firing":

  • Stalled promotions or lack of career advancement opportunities

  • A lack of meaningful feedback from managers

  • Managerial avoidance or neglect in engaging with employees

  • Ignored or dismissed ideas from employees

  • A halt in new task assignments or project opportunities

Quiet Firing

Understanding the root causes of quiet firing

#1. Lack of Communication. In a pandemic-hued world compounded by an economic downturn, the role of managers has become increasingly demanding as they juggle the expectations of employees and senior leaders. This can leave little room for getting to know team members on a personal level or taking the time to answer their work-related questions.

#2. Lack of Recognition and Appreciation. Being more absent than present can leave our team members feeling disconnected and demotivated, leading to a decrease in morale and productivity.

Recognition and appreciation serve as important sources of feedback and validation, and it helps employees understand the impact of their work. When employees do not receive this feedback, they may struggle to understand their role and purpose within the organisation and feel disconnected from their work.

Meaningful feedback isn't a hindrance to performance — it's a catalyst for growth.

#3. Limited Growth Opportunities. Employees can become demotivated and disengaged when they do not see a clear path for advancement or opportunities to develop new skills and take on new challenges. Over time, this lack of engagement can lead to decreased productivity and job satisfaction, and employees may start to look for opportunities elsewhere.

Quiet firing can be particularly insidious because it is often gradual and subtle, and employees may not realise that their lack of growth opportunities is contributing to their disengagement. This can result in the loss of valuable talent, as well as decreased morale and engagement among remaining employees.

65% of employees consider upskilling opportunities to be very important when evaluating a potential new job or deciding whether to stay in their current role The Gallup Upskilling Study

Strategies to avoid unintentional quiet firing

#1. Fostering an Open and Inclusive Communication Culture is central to breaking down barriers and encouraging open dialogue, allowing team members to express their thoughts and ideas freely. When employees feel heard and understood, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and committed to the team's goals and objectives.

Communication takes the “quiet” out of quiet firing. Angela Robinson,

Managing difficult conversations is a big part of creating a work environment where everyone feels heard and included. And let's be real, it's not always easy, especially for those new to leadership. But, having the ability to handle these situations with professionalism, empathy, and efficiency is key to building trust, strengthening relationships, and fostering a sense of belonging among team members.

#2. Showing Appreciation and Providing Timely Recognition are often overlooked or easily forgotten. It's not uncommon for managers to struggle with understanding their role in providing feedback and showing appreciation to their direct reports. This can lead to coaching and recognition feeling like secondary tasks, rather than key responsibilities of a manager's role. To ensure that our leaders are equipped to foster strong relationships with their teams and provide meaningful recognition, it's important to educate and empower them with the tools and skills they need to be successful. This can include training on effective communication, goal-setting, and feedback strategies, as well as providing opportunities for managers to network and collaborate with their peers.

#3. Providing Learning and Development Opportunities. According to a recent study by McKinsey & Co., insufficient opportunities for career development and advancement were the primary cause of employee turnover, followed closely by uncaring and uninspiring leaders.

Having top-notch managers on our teams is a game-changer. To make sure our managers are equipped to hit the ground running, investing in management training is crucial. Gathering actionable data about our leaders' career development needs will help companies to understand their challenges and provide the right support. With this information, we can gain a better understanding of their skills, knowledge, and experiences, and then design relevant learning and development solutions to support them.

We are working with companies all over Australia to gather relevant data and bring some certainty when everything is moving at a pace around us.

Let's have a chat!

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