Whether there is a shortage of skilled workers or not, bosses use “quiet firing” to try to get rid of unwelcome employees in a subtle way. How to tell if you’re affected.

“Quiet Quitting” has become a popular hashtag on social media in recent months – but now a new buzzword is circulating on TikTok, Instagram and Co.: “Quiet Firing” tacit dismissal”).

It is intended to draw attention to a well-known problem in the working world: bosses use a strategy of attrition to force their employees to quit and make their everyday work life hell. Employers often proceed in a subtle way, public mobbing usually does not take place.

Typical “quiet firing” methods: The employee is pushed to the sidelines, gets no interesting tasks and no longer has any prospects for advancement. Bosses do not answer calls or emails from employees. They don’t invite her to meetings anymore. The employees do not receive any feedback. They are passed over for promotions, do not receive a salary increase for years and are paid unfairly. They are also given specific tasks that they are not comfortable with or for which they are overqualified. They are generally criticized for their work.

The employer hopes that the drop in motivation will lead to voluntary termination as soon as possible. “If the tricks mentioned don’t work, the payment of the salary is simply ‘forgotten’,” says Ashkan Saljoughi. He is a specialist lawyer for labor law and a partner in the Chevalier law firm. Low earners in particular, including many single parents, will quickly run out of breath financially and try to find another job, the expert continues.

Read also: Guest article by Ashkan Saljoughi – Camouflage, trick, deceive: How companies want to get rid of undesirable employees

Recent studies by the consulting firm McKinsey have also shown that the risk of “quiet firing” is particularly high for women and people of color. The reason for this is that they are often underrepresented in management positions and therefore receive less support from their superiors. “Quiet Firing” sometimes contributes to increasing social inequalities.

For employees, “quiet firing” is a particularly unfair form of dismissal. Sometimes the person concerned experiences rejection, exclusion and neglect over the years. This can attack the psyche and drive employees to grief, pain and madness. In addition to depression and lack of motivation, the affected person can lose confidence in their own work.

“Quiet firing” can occur, for example, when the employer cannot find a reason for termination or wants to avoid an expensive severance payment. “In practice, however, we experience much more often that the person behind it is the problem: the boss simply shies away from the conflict, is not good at communicating or does not get along with his leadership role. Bad or lousy bosses use such tactics,” says lawyer Fiona Schönbohm to “Wirtschaftswoche”. If you come to a reasonable and fair agreement, you can always find a regulation that is acceptable for both sides via a termination agreement.

If those affected notice that their employer wants to get rid of you with “quiet firing”, they should write down and document everything if it is foreseeable that a dispute could arise. It is important to openly communicate dissatisfaction with the work situation. Anyone who shys away from direct contact with superiors or if the boss opposes them can first contact the HR department or the works council.

However, the room for maneuver with “quiet firing” can quickly reach its limits if the superiors do not want to cooperate despite all attempts. The most important piece of advice then is: keep calm, even if your superior is putting pressure on you. “The greater the pressure, the better your negotiating position – if you actually decide to leave the company. Under no circumstances should you sign what is being pointed out to you and which is said to be for your benefit only. Because it isn’t. Instead, you should seek legal advice,” says Ashkan Saljoughi.