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Quiet firing meets quiet quitting

By Lynne Curry

Quiet quitting, the employee behavior pattern that swept through the nation this summer after a viral TikTok video in July, has met its match—quiet firing. Employers, disgusted by employees that consider it justified to do the bare minimum at work, are blessing these employees out the door.

Managers take action

In September 2022, 91% of 1,000 managers surveyed reported taking action against quiet quitters or firing them (1 in 3 managers have responded to ‘quiet quitting’ with ‘quiet firing’ – One in three of the surveyed managers reported firing quiet quitters; 75% of the 1000 managers described firing quiet quitters as justifiable. Managers that didn’t outright fire quiet quitters took other actions. 27% of them denied raises to quiet quitters; 23% denied promotions to quiet quitters. 13% of the managers demoted quiet quitters; 12% of them denied quiet quitters PTO.

Although 63% of the managers surveyed stated that employees should exceed expectations, 58% admitted at least one of their employees does only the bare minimum. In contrast, 89% of these managers reported they personally went above and beyond at work.

While 69% the surveyed managers have had formal discussions with their quiet quitter employees, 51% of the managers stated they don’t because they don’t like confrontation. Many of these managers instead responded passive-aggressively, with 31% stating that they made their quiet quitters’ work lives difficult so that they’d leave under their own steam.

Quiet quitter damage

Employees that do the bare minimum justify it, often saying they’re “doing their jobs” and don’t want to “do more because they’re not paid for more.” The problem—while their inaction hurts their employers, it hurts their coworkers as well—twice. Not only do coworkers with work ethic work harder to pick up the slack, but quiet quitters damage the morale of those who take their jobs and their employer’s mission seriously. Even worse, the damaged employer may resort to layoffs to survive.

Quiet quitting is more than employees setting reasonable boundaries or intentionally putting a hard stop to their work week so they can create work/life balance. Instead, it resembles  dry rot that eats away at both its hosts—their employer and the quiet quitters themselves who withhold their best and avoid stretching their skills and careers.

The solution to quiet quitters

Many managers allow problem employees to slide under the radar because they’re focused on their clients or customers, or the financial and other managerial reports they’re required to submit, and because slacker employees know how to hide their lack of work and engagement under the cover of phony “I’m so overloaded” or “I’m on it!” statements.

Managers that pay attention, however, catch on. Unfortunately, a lot of these managers either avoid confrontation or work harder to fix the problem employee than the problem employee does.

If you’re a manager who avoids conflict

When you avoid conflict, the problem remains. It’s as if you discovered a bowl of moldy salad and left it on the counter, hoping it might turn into something healthy. The best employees who work for managers that avoid dealing with under-performing slacker employees leave because they don’t enjoy picking up the slack. Further, other managers lose respect for managers that avoid conflict.

Managers that work harder than their employees to fix things

Who has the greater control over an employee’s willingness to give discretionary effort—to work above and beyond—the manager or the employee. If you answer, “the employee,” you speak reality. Managers that take on the employee’s share of responsibility for underperforming employees forget this reality. Often, they conduct repeated counseling sessions with quiet quitters, striving to help these employees recognize the benefits of work harder, only to watch their efforts fail. Managers that recognize themselves in the above scenario should admit it and bless their quiet quitters out the door—in fairness to their other employees.

Quiet quitting has an end game—quiet firing.

(c) 2022

Lynne Curry, PhD, SPHR, SHRM-SCP and author of “Beating the Workplace Bully,” AMACOM 2016, and “Solutions” is President of Communication Works, Inc. and founder of, which offers more than 400 articles on topics such as leadership, COVID, management, HR, and personal and professional development.  Curry has qualified in Court as an expert witness in Management Best Practices, HR and Workplace issues. You can reach her at or follow her @lynnecurry10 on twitter. She will present a webinar  for Medical Office Manager members on Navigating Conflict on Jan 19, 2023.