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Quiet firing trend suggests disengaged UK workers

Discussions around the phrase quiet quitting have led to a trend of workers sharing their quiet firing stories, where organisations do the bare minimum for an employee with the intention of forcing them out of the company.

This can include passing employees over for promotions, raises, or supplying them with vague feedback which doesn't help their development.

The term has been trending in recent weeks as workplaces consider attrition challenges - research from analytics company Gallup this year found the UK has one of the most disengaged workforces across Europe, with just 9% of workers feeling enthused about their workplace. 

Quiet quitting is when an employee refuses to do more than their job requires. 

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Grace Mansah-Owusu, talent consultant for the British Heart Foundation, said that quiet firing represents business' failings when it comes to learning and development. 

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: "Quiet firing signals more management and poor overall organisational strategy to people development within an organisation.

"The term quiet firing definitely struck a chord with me as I know I have experienced this kind of treatment in several roles, where I have felt undervalued or respected or even noticed within a workplace, leaving me to feel like I needed to leave.

"It’s important that in organisations we aren’t expecting people to go above and beyond in roles and rewarding people on the roles they actually do, rather than having an unwritten rule expecting people to do more to get ahead and be recognised.

"At the same time managers should be trained and empowered to lead and coach their teams to provide supportive working environments and they should also be encouraged to learn how to engage with people who might be less engaged.”

“Both quiet quitting and quiet firing to me signal so many negative aspects about modern working relationships."

Zofia Bajorek, senior research fellow at the Institute for Employment Studies (IES), said that quiet firing highlights the need for businesses to promote a good work agenda.

She told HR magazine: "If employees feel that they have autonomy, reward, fairness, voice and adequate support at work, and that their skills are being used, then employers should benefit from positive employee outcomes.

"The current changes occurring in workplaces provides the perfect backdrop for employers to look at their current work practices and job design to ensure that ‘good work’ is being maintained throughout the organisation, and that the correct two-way communication channels are in place for concerns about wellbeing and performance management to be addressed successfully.

"If good work and good communication from line managers is at the forefront of management practices, then both ‘quiet quitting’ or ‘quiet firing’ should not have to be a concern to either employers or employees."

Gallup surveyed 1,446 UK workers in June 2022.