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  • Mark Shaw

Quiet firing: another passing trend or cause for concern?

In a recent article published on HRMonline (reference) the argument was made that many managers apply ‘quiet firing’ by covertly stopping the development, the engagement, and/or excluding certain team members who they want to get rid of in the hope that they’ll voluntarily resign.


The article:

· Quoted a recent survey of over 20,000 members that found over 80 per cent had experienced or seen quiet firing in action.

· Referred to CEO of Netflix who spoke about the idea that a team will perform to the level of its worst performer, suggesting that when a manager avoids an underperformer and hopes they’ll just go away, they are dragging down the performance levels of the rest of their team.

· Argues that one of the most important parts of HR’s role is to help the organisation mitigate risks that arise from complex people challenges such as unfair dismissal, bullying or worker’s compensation claims.


While my experience agrees with the above, when the article laid the blame on a failure to manage staff properly or that it could come down to lazy leadership, I was disappointed.


The solutions offered in the article were no more than current practice and far from best practice and included:

· Managers having increased numbers of one-on-one meetings with staff

· Having managers taking copious notes during such meetings

· A HR guide on how to have difficult conversation at work

· HR conducting spot checks to see if records of development and conversations are taking place

· Coaching and

· Training.


In my experience, ‘quite firing’ is often used because these HR processes that managers are forced to follow are too complex, lengthy, and often lead to the same outcome - termination.


Instead, the solution is for us as HR professionals to initially develop and implement better processes that help managers deal with employees displaying poor performance or unacceptable behaviour. Then coaching and training managers in this improved approach will led to better outcomes.


Let’s identify better ways to help managers who confront underperformers rather than drag down the performance levels of the rest of their team.


Proactive Reengagement Programs (PRPs) are a great example of best practice in this area, and I encourage HR Practitioners to use them to reduce ‘quiet firing’.


For over 20 years, PRPs have achieved the following results:

· 60% of employees improve their performance/behaviour and re-engage in their workplace.

· 25% resign – with no negative outcomes

· 10% are terminated with 100% of any unfair dismissal claims successfully defended.

And all requiring up to 80% less time, effort and cost.


Quiet firing is only a cause for concern if you are a HR Practitioners not willing to move to best practice.

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