The workplace is abuzz with terms like ‘quiet quitting’ and ‘quiet firing’. Let’s break down what these terms mean and how women are especially impacted by both workplace practices.
What is Quiet Quitting?
Quiet Quitting has been defined as employees working within defined work hours and engaging solely in activities within those hours. Despite the name, the philosophy of quiet quitting is not necessarily connected to quitting a job outright, but rather doing precisely what the job requires.
The term quiet quitting was initially coined at a Texas A&M economics symposium on diminishing ambitions in Venezuela in September 2009 by economist Mark Boldger.
What does Quiet Quitting look like?
Examples of Quiet Quitting include logging off exactly at 5:00 pm or not returning after-hours work requests until the next business day.
Oftentimes, employees turn to Quiet Quitting when they are burnt out and unable to balance their work and personal life.
What does Quiet Quitting mean for women?
Quiet Quitting has specific ramifications for women.
Unlike male counterparts, women already face an uphill battle when it comes to the workplace.
Women continue to face a ‘broken rung’ at the first step up to manager: for every 100 men promoted to manager, only 86 women are promoted, according to research by McKinsey.
When promotions are given at a lesser rate, women often feel pressure to work harder than their male counterparts to gain the same promotion. This leads to increased work hours and efforts to prove their worth in the workplace.
Quiet Quitting in itself could be seen as a privilege for men, whose ability to reduce outside work hours and still accomplish their goals will be seen as appropriate versus a woman doing the same work but not receiving a promotion or recognition of the same task.
Women and minorities may face greater risks when it comes to advancing in their careers and keeping their jobs by participating in quiet quitting.
Celeste Headlee, author of “Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing and Underliving, spoke to Bloomberg about Quiet Quitting, saying “Any time a person of color or a woman tries to establish healthy boundaries for themselves, they are much more likely to be seen as troublemakers.”
Should women Quiet Quit?
That’s ultimately up to you. Quiet quitting is often seen as a selfish activity, when in some cases it can bring balance and peace to an overworked or burnt out employee.
But if the source of the burnout goes unaddressed, you may face more problems down the road.
Companies should want their employees to live balanced, healthy lives. Managers should help employees with their workload and set reasonable expectations. But when that doesn’t happen, oftentimes it is up to the employee to make a professional decision on if their job is the right fit and if they should move on.
What is Quiet Firing?
The opposite of ‘quiet quitting’ is ‘quiet firing’, in which an employer only offers a minimum wage and benefits and denies any advances in the hope that an unwanted employee would quit, according to The Washington Post.
Another term that may bring clarity is “managed out”, meaning your boss doesn’t favor you and will try and create a situation in which you can work the minimum amount but be ready for being fired or cut when the opportunity comes.
It can also be called “constructive discharge” in cases where there may be a legal ground for suing an employer for forcing you to quit.
Constructive discharge is a legal concept that was first coined by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in the early days of the labor union movement in the United States. It was originally developed in the 1930s to stop efforts by employers to discourage employees from unionizing or forcing union employees to resign from their positions, according to Nolo.
What does Quiet Firing look like?
Quiet Firing examples include being given an unreasonable amount of work by your manager who expects you to quit over the issue, or being sidelined for projects by your manager because they don’t want you involved in major company issues.
What does Quiet Firing mean for women?
Sadly, Quiet Firing often involves feeling excluded and gaslit.
Confronting a manager or boss about Quiet Firing can be difficult because they could deny doing anything to minimize your position even if they mean to.
What can women do about Quiet Firing?
Just like any workplace issue, experts advise documenting harassment or examples of a hostile work environment.
While there may not be grounds for a lawsuit, it is always helpful to keep a record of management’s treatment of your position.
If you feel forced out of your workplace, it is also wise to start looking at other opportunities and workplaces that will enable you to feel valued and appreciated. Women with a strong personal brand can leverage their brand to unlock new opportunities.
Some say that Quiet Firing is an adequate response to Quiet Quitting, which is an inaccurate view. If an employee is still performing their job responsibilities, then firing would be an inappropriate response.
If a worker is claiming they’ve “quiet quit” but are really slacking, then firing them may be the best option. But either way, Quiet Firing is a passive aggressive way of managing employees, keeping them in the dark, and often using deceptive tactics to keep them around while planning their removal.
TAKe Brand Consulting has helped women find their right career path and gain confidence to leave unhealthy workplaces. Contact us if you are in need of career counseling or personal branding consultation.