Quiet quitting and quiet firing: identify the signs

There’s been a marked shift in how we work thanks to the pandemic. With hybrid and remote work now highly sought after, many Australians are seeking out more attractive employment options with the ABS reporting that during the year ending February 2022, 1.3 million people changed jobs, the highest annual job mobility rate since 2012 . In some cases this is contributing to quiet quitting, where employees do the bare minimum to retain their jobs. Workers are also experiencing quiet firing, where managers neglect workers with the intention of pushing them out of their jobs.

To help you better understand these worrying trends, here’s everything you need to know about quiet quitting and quiet firing in the workplace.

What is quiet quitting and quiet firing?

In basic terms, quiet quitting is the act of doing the bare minimum required to do your job. That means not putting in any extra effort or time than is absolutely necessary.

This can be confusing because ‘quitting’ implies you have left the job. On the contrary, you simply do only what is needed and nothing more. In many instances, quiet quitting may occur when you are looking for another job but still want to earn a salary while job-hunting.

At the other end of the spectrum is what some workers have experienced at some point in their careers: quiet firing. Instead of supporting you and helping you to succeed in the organisation, quiet firing means your manager withholds coaching and development opportunities – as well as recognition for the work you do day-to-day – in order to push you out the door.

This toxic environment breeds more toxicity when management is singling out individuals for constant praise while failing to give any time or attention to other employees. According to Gallup, it’s actually a form of gaslighting.

Rise of quiet quitting in Australia

While not necessarily a new phenomenon in the world of work, quiet quitting has at least entered the vernacular and gained more attention recently. Some have attributed the popularity of the phrase to a viral social media trend which gained prominence in mid-2022, when a TikTok user made a video about it. Since then, some leaders have witnessed their formerly high performers step back from being proactive overachievers, and instead work only within their contractual obligations.

The truth is that there are various contributing factors to why someone might decide to become a quiet quitter. According to recent figures, 59% of knowledge workers are feeling burned out, with an even higher proportion of those who work in healthcare (71%) saying the same thing.

As a result, almost half (45%) of knowledge workers say they will consider changing jobs in 2023, and 12% have already shifted into a quiet-quitting mentality.

Key signs of quiet quitting

So why is quiet quitting on the rise, and how can employers spot the warning signs before their top talent start looking elsewhere?

“Quiet quitting has become quite the phenomenon because a lot of employees are really prioritising work-life balance – people are moving away from feeling like they have to ‘hustle’ all the time in order to be successful,” says Amie Duignan, Career Coach and Founder of A.D Connects."

“For an employer it is so important that they create a safe space for employees to feel comfortable to express how they feel and what they need in order to thrive.”

Duignan says the reason quiet quitting is happening is because employees don't feel they are being heard, particularly when it comes to work-life balance and the ability to work remotely or hybrid.

“The top two signs of quiet quitting are if your employees start to disengage and you find their enthusiasm lacking. This is a sign and invitation for you to ask them what they need and put some strategies in place to help them thrive."

“Another huge sign is if your employees seem burned out. When they are working too much, that is a sign for you to investigate why it’s happening and what you could do to support them. Burnout is the number-one reason why people are quietly quitting, so it's crucial you stay on top of this and build trust with your employees to form a tighter connection.”

Top signs of quiet firing

When it comes to quiet firing, Duignan says employees need to monitor a couple of signs that might sound the alarm for a difficult future in the workplace.

“Number one is an employer setting unachievable goals and basically setting employees up to fail,” she says. “The environment a boss creates is so important to the overall function of each employee. If the boss is setting crazy-high expectations that are just not realistic or don't even align to your roles or responsibilities, that could be a sign of quiet firing."

“Another sign is denying a well-deserved promotion. If your manager is clearly stalling your promotion then that could be a big sign of quiet firing.”

Finding the right balance

Due to the constantly evolving nature of the modern workplace, more and more Australians are reflecting on their careers and seeking out jobs that value their skills – while also offering workplace flexibility. With any major lifestyle change, you may wish to consider whether your life insurance is working for you.

Whether you already have life insurance or are considering taking out your first life insurance policy, Guardian Insurance can help. Consider getting a quote today.