top of page
  • Writer's pictureAnn Walsh

Unmasking the Dark Reality of Quiet Firing

Have you felt a shift at work that you can't quite put your finger on? Are you seeing a reduction in your workload? Is your manager micromanaging or asking you to document all of your work? 

"Quiet firing" is the practice of slowly phasing out an employee, forcing them to quit rather than directly firing them. By employing this "remove and neglect" strategy, companies avoid confrontation, the stigma of a layoff, the perception of being the "bad guy," and any obligation of providing severance or unemployment benefits.

The dark reality of quiet firing can take a toll on the employee's well-being because it’s sometimes so subtle that you start questioning and doubting yourself! This practice can have severe consequences for individuals, leading to emotional distress, financial hardship, and damage to their professional reputation. 

So how can you recognize the signs of quiet firing?

  • Gradual reduction in workload or assigning your projects to other colleagues.

  • Manager “ghosting,” canceling 1:1 meetings, claiming “too busy” to meet with you, and failing to respond to your questions.

  • Resistance to commitments, manipulating timelines and shifting priorities. Instead of outright saying "no," they opt for a "not now" approach regarding well-deserved promotions, salary increases, or projects.

  • Manager does not have meaningful conversations around career development or provide constructive feedback. If they don’t give it, they don’t value you.

  • Establishing unattainable performance targets, assigning you to projects that do not align with your role and skills, and ultimately setting you up for failure.

  • Does the manager not like you? It could be as simple as that.

  • Exclusion from critical conversation, decision-making processes, and meetings where your input would normally be sought.

  • Manager praises others for your actual work or project.

  • Overworked/underworked or given mundane projects.

  • Exclusion from team events and removal from relevant emails and invitations.

Proactive Steps You Can Take:

  • Don’t ignore the warning signs - use them to your advantage!

  • Analyze the situation before taking any drastic action. Are unfavorable changes only targeting you, or is everyone affected equally? Is it just a bad manager? Does the manager not like you? It could be as simple as that.

  • Knowledge is power - ask colleagues you trust, familiarize yourself with the company policies and procedures, the promotion criteria, and salary increases.

  • Communicate. If you have concerns, ask your manager what’s going on with an open and honest dialog.

  • Thoroughly document the good and the bad of your day. Keep a comprehensive log of your projects, emails, and any evidence that supports your case of being targeted or mistreated.

  • Prepare your resume and start exploring alternative employment opportunities- build your network.

  • If possible, don’t resign. If the company wants you gone, let them terminate your employment, enabling you to qualify for unemployment benefits.

  • If the environment is unbearable, and you’ve decided to leave, try negotiating a package. If the company truly wants you out, but they don’t want to fire you, remember you have leverage. They may give you severance or extension of benefits. (You don’t get what you don’t ask for!)

  • Seek advice from an employment attorney if you believe you are experiencing unlawful discrimination.

Although not directly unlawful, quiet firing walks the line by exploiting gaps in performance management processes and workplace laws.

If you notice warning signs of quiet firing, take proactive measures to protect yourself, maintain professionalism, and safeguard your career. By devising a well-planned strategy, you can successfully navigate the challenges associated with this harmful practice.

Have you ever experienced quiet firing?


bottom of page