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Workplace pressure is something everyone goes through. Whether you work from home or clock in at the office daily, it’s normal to experience a bit of stress as part of a corporate company. But if you’ve been feeling a sudden change in your manager’s vibe, there may be more to it behind the scenes. This article explains what may be happening and signs to look out for.

What Is “Quiet Firing”?

According to global workplace analytics firm Gallup, “quiet firing” is a new term for a decades-old phenomenon at the workplace, wherein employers try to make workplace conditions worse for employees they want to “squeeze out” of the company. Whether it’s company downsizing or trying to avoid redundant positions, quiet firing is a way for management to avoid the hassle of firing or reassigning an employee.

Now, you might have already heard of “quiet quitting”, or when employees start becoming purposely inefficient and absent in their positions to justify leaving. Quiet firing and quiet quitting actually go together–when an employer starts to quietly fire an employee, the employee has no choice but to respond the same way.

Quiet firing is petty, unethical, and shows signs of weak leadership. This could affect an employee’s mental health, as well as potentially damage a company’s reputation. How does one spot this? Watch out for the signs below.

Your Manager’s Attitude Changes Around You

Great managers take the time to check in on each of their team members, no matter how packed their schedules are. These scheduled check-ins mean that the company values its employees and wants to see if there are opportunities they can give to help you grow, so if you’re the only one on the team missing out, that could be a sign.

The complete opposite could also happen. Instead of being overly distant, your manager could start being hyper-critical of everything you do. From reports to projects to nonstop questions through email, they might start nitpicking every detail out of nowhere.

Your Projects Start Being Reassigned

Getting less projects assigned to you may seem like a win at first but it’s not as peachy as it sounds. Ultimately the value you bring to your team is directly related to the impact you make with your work. Projects give employees a specific purpose, so having yours reassigned with no prior heads-up is a big red flag. This also means less opportunities to let your skills shine and showcase what you bring to the table.

Task reassignments also entail being excluded from email threads and task trackers you were previously in, as well as the lack of meeting invites. Some managers do this slowly throughout months of slow contact, while some kick employees out of threads in days. A change in your calendar compared to your team’s should start setting off some alarm bells.

Your Manager Asks You To Track Your Hours

When managers suddenly ask you to keep track of your hours and activity once you clock in, there’s a big chance they’re looking for a reason to scrutinize your work. Doing so gives employers the excuse to use empty calendar blocks, vacant to-do lists, and less-than-perfect reports as reasons to downplay all that you do.

The biggest sign that you’re getting quiet-fired? HR communications are getting more frequent. It can start off as harmless updates which later escalate to sudden meetings about workplace conduct and even subpar work. Managers who want to quiet-fire employees will involve HR in an attempt to make downsizing seem more diplomatic.

There is no doubt that quiet firing is an unethical and harmful leadership practice. It promotes dishonesty in management, and it can bring down someone’s motivation to keep putting their best foot forward at work. I hope you never have to experience it, but now that you know the signs, spot them while it’s early and be proactive to find remedies.

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