The deafening noise of quiet firing and what to do about it

Note published on October 19 in Expansión, Opinión  [Opinion] Section by Blanya Correal
Read original source

We need open and empathic organizations, where emotional problems are treated with the same level of priority as issues that affect productivity, says Blanya Correal.

One of the signs of how organizational conscience has matured in regard to human matters is the identification of the quiet quitting and quiet firing phenomena, which beyond being a problem as serious as active personnel turnover, have an impact not only on business results, but also on the well-being of employees and their families.

These practices have been called quiet or passive because their impact is less visible in the short term and it may sometimes appear as though nothing is going on when, in reality, there is a huge storm happening at the roots of work climate, affecting individuals and work teams.

In short, both quiet quitting and firing are generating a high level of passive turnover in organizations these days, which is understood as the disconnection of the employee from his work objectives, generating a deterioration in the level of results, with a consequence that is even more complex than active rotation, because these quiet cases make the possibility of their identification more difficult, given that they normally occur because the relationship between the boss and his collaborator is broken and the “silence” hides both of their realities.

To identify passive turnover, it is important to first define its two key causes: first we have quiet quitting, which is generated when the collaborator decides to remain in the company doing the minimum necessary work for his job position; this includes minimal communication, participation and contribution.

This is normally a situation that is known to his immediate supervisor, who probably does not have the necessary tools or the interest to reconnect the collaborator with the challenges of his position and the possibility of growth or development.

On the other hand, quiet firing can also occur, in which the supervisor either consciously or unconsciously decides to keep a collaborator in his work team, excluding him from the possibility of participating or contributing and often limiting communication in a significant manner. In some cases, quiet firing may be accompanied by workplace violence behavior by the work team, where the collaborator is excluded from meetings and projects or does not have the necessary information necessary for the normal course of his work.

In any case, these phenomena of working life have a significant impact on the well-being of the group, of each person and it can even affect their families. The most interesting thing is that this not only happens to the members of a team; a situation that we find today in organizations is the lack of motivation of many managers who cannot manage to lead their teams and even suffer from workplace harassment by their own collaborators.

Power relations in companies have changed with the arrival of new, more vocal and less “obedient” new generations. We currently hear many team leaders complain about the need to explain the purpose of each task and objective, and even in some cases, report mistreatment by the people they are in charge of.

There are three key actions that we can carry out as a company in face of this situation:

  1. Make all collaborators in a team responsible for the improvement of the work climate. A great deal of work has been conducted in companies for the improvement of labor climate; however, almost all of the responsibility is assigned to the team leader, where he even occasionally receives all of the “pressure” of ensuring that all of his reports are “happy”, which is clearly an impossible task.

For this reason, many organizations are migrating to work 360 work climate thermometers, where the impact of each person on the team is measured, regardless of the role that they play. These relationship maps help identify the quality of formal and informal leadership, seeking to channel the relationships between all people toward the group’s objectives in a positive manner.

  1. Connecting each team member with the purpose of his role. Lately, more has been done to ensure that each person truly understands the “why” of what each person within the organization does in a broader context, that is, the human impact of the task that is performed; in other words, in the reasons that give meaning to each person’s work, beyond the economic contribution.

This is not an easy task, first because it has to be sufficiently inspiring or relevant in face of each person’s motivators and, second, because it has to be a continuous task. In this sense, some organizations have implemented the practice of connecting the collaborators from the support areas with the final client or with the consumer of their products and/or services, in such a way that he has first-hand knowledge of the benefits that his task generates in those groups of people.

  1. Monitoring the relationship between collaborators and leaders through cross-sectional surveys, labor pulse surveys or complaint hotlines. Passive turnover requires very constant and in-depth measurements in order to be identified, for this reason an evolution of monitoring mechanisms and even the cross-analysis of different measurements that enable the identification trends or symptoms that allow the determination of this phenomenon are required.

Work climate surveys are no longer sufficient, the analysis of averages becomes inaccurate and dangerous, thus, the participation of collaborators in internal risk monitoring networks is one of the tools that can contribute to timely interventions in this type of organizational problems.

We ultimately need open and empathic organizations, where emotional problems are treated with the same level of priority as issues that affect productivity but, above all, where people truly feel good and are motivated to achieve better things.