1 in 3 managers have responded to ‘quiet quitting’ with ‘quiet firing’

‘Quiet quitting,’ the term that refers to workers choosing to only put the bare minimum into their work, is still making headlines. Recent surveys have found as many as one-quarter of workers say they do just enough to meet expectations.

Well, managers are taking notice, and many are less than pleased, responding with ‘quiet firing’ or passive-aggressive tactics in hopes that the ‘quiet quitter’ will just quit.

To find out how managers view quiet quitting, ResumeBuilder.com surveyed 1,000 managers with at least one direct report, in September.

Key findings include:

  • 98% of managers of ‘quiet quitters’ say it’s important their reports do more than the bare minimum
  • 91% of managers have taken some action against ‘quiet quitters,’ including taking steps to terminate them and denying promotions/raises
  • 1 in 3 managers admit to ‘quiet firing’ reports
  • 64% of managers say ‘quiet quitters’ are unlikely to have a successful career
  • 75% of managers say it’s justifiable to fire someone only doing the bare minimum

98% of managers disapprove of their reports ‘quiet quitting’

More than half of managers (58%) say they have at least one report who currently only does the bare minimum. Our survey defined doing the bare minimum as putting in the least amount of effort to just meet expectations.

Additionally, 58% of managers have noticed the amount of effort being put in today is noticeably less, and more than half say reports never go above and beyond (58%) or take initiative (54%).

Of managers who currently have a report who is only doing the bare minimum, nearly all of them (98%) say that it’s important that they do more.

4 in 10 managers fired employees they expected to go above and beyond

Most managers have high expectations, with 63% saying employees should work hard enough to exceed expectations. Just 35% are ok with employees only doing enough to meet expectations.

Of managers who say employees should go above and beyond, 40% have fired a report in the past for only doing the bare minimum.

This isn’t surprising given how many people in positions of leadership feel about the idea of not putting your best foot forward. Kevin O’Leary recently made headlines for commenting on ‘quiet quitting,” saying it’s “a really bad idea.”

He also notes, “People that go beyond to try to solve problems for the organization, their teams, their managers, their bosses, those are the ones that succeed in life.” Our survey shows that managers in general tend to agree.

Thirty-seven percent of managers say you probably can’t be successful only doing the bare minimum, while another 27% say you definitely can’t.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons, 89% of managers say they go above and beyond at work. Only 11% of managers say they do the bare minimum, and 1% less than that.

According to Todd Ramlin, Manager of Cable Compare, to avoid employees ‘quiet quitting,’ it’s necessary for managers to lead by example and create an ideal work environment.

“I’m not a fan of anybody, direct reports or managers, doing the bare minimum,” says Ramlin. “I can, however, understand the psychology behind why some employees might choose to behave that way in a bad work environment. I don’t think that employees will choose to do the bare minimum if they’re in a healthy work environment. A healthy work environment needs to start with leadership setting the example.”

91% of managers have action against ‘quiet quitters,’ starting termination process, denying raises

The vast majority (91%) of managers of ‘quiet quitters’ have taken some action to remedy the situation. The majority (69%) have had a formal discussion with their reports. However, ‘quiet quitting’ has resulted in many managers taking more severe action.

Managers have also responded by:

  • Denying raises (27%)
  • Denying promotions (23%)
  • Starting the process to fire their report (19%)
  • Demoting employee (13%)
  • Denying PTO (12%)

Survey respondents wrote in other responses, noting they’ve taken actions such as giving “a verbal warning that [the employee’s] job is at stake” and developing an “action plan to correct issues.”

Rachel Davis, Founder of SoulFactors, discusses how ‘quiet quitting’ impacts teams.

“Quiet quitting can be extremely frustrating for managers,” Davis says. “If an employee is simply putting in their time and not going above and beyond, it can reflect poorly on the rest of the team. Oftentimes, simply having a conversation and showing that you’re willing to work with them can be enough to turn things around. However, if the problem persists, it might be necessary to let the employee go.”

Nearly 1 in 3 managers admit to ‘quiet firing’ reports

Some managers are responding passive-aggressively to the issue of quiet quitting.

Of the managers who have failed to have a formal discussion with their report about their dissatisfaction with the level of effort they are putting into their work, more than half (51%) say this is because they don’t like confrontation.

Additionally, 31% of managers say they are intentionally making their reports’ work-life more difficult in hopes they will just quit. A behavior is now being referred to as ‘quiet firing.’

According to small business consultant Dennis Consorte, this is the result of poor communication in the workplace.

“When people don’t communicate enough you end up with a passive-aggressive culture at work,” says Consorte. “This is terrible for workers, managers, and stakeholders in a company. Setting clear expectations with one another is key to creating a healthy workplace.”

Chris Nddie, Co-Founder & CEO of ClothingRIC, disagrees with this passive-aggressive approach, commenting, “Leaders shouldn’t overreact to this trend and instead see this as an opportunity to have an open discussion about work-life balance with their team members.”

75% of managers say it’s justifiable to fire someone only doing the bare minimum

Most managers (75%) believe that it’s acceptable to fire an employee who isn’t going above and beyond. Forty-three percent say they would be ‘somewhat justified’ and 32% ‘very justified’ in firing someone for only doing the bare minimum.

Managers say it’s acceptable to fire these employees because they are not dedicated enough, don’t have a good attitude, and are not a team player.

For the 25% who don’t think it’s justifiable, the main reason is that technically the report is doing their job.

Career strategist and job search coach, Stacie Haller weighs in on the validity of employers’ expectations.

“I have yet to meet a manager in my career that is pleased with an employee doing the bare minimum,” says Haller. “No one is looking to hire someone to do the bare minimum; employers want their employees to excel. Companies want someone who can rise through the ranks and help propel the company forward. Positions are maintained by employees who go above and beyond, as it also shows dedication to the organization.”

“But going above and beyond and being a team player should all be discussed in the interview and hiring process if these are the qualities needed for someone to keep their job,” says Haller. “You can’t require someone to be adept and bring a certain work ethic to the position if you didn’t clearly communicate your expectations.”

Dennis Consorte shares a similar sentiment, commenting that managers need to communicate their expectations clearly, while sharing the reminder that most employment is at-will.

“Often, managers are poor at communicating that people are expected to go above and beyond. We take it for granted that we’ve lived in a long period of hustle culture, where people often valued work and promotions over their well-being. Now, people have shifted their priorities. Companies, managers, and leaders need to adapt to the new climate. Be clear in communications about what’s expected, as well as the likely outcomes when workers do the bare minimum, versus going above and beyond,” says Consorte.

“The truth is that all states and Washington DC are at-will employment states, meaning that employers do not need a reason to let people go. So, an employee should assume that doing less than what they are capable of puts themselves at greater risk for termination. Although it feels unfair, most companies are in business to make a profit. This means that they need good teams, good products, and good margins. If any of those factors is below average, it means that competitors have an advantage and could take market share from the company. Unfortunately, layoffs happen all the time because of poor leadership and disengaged workers.”

Methodology

All data found within this report derives from a survey commissioned by ResumeBuilder.com and conducted online by survey platform Pollfish. In total, 1,000 Americans were surveyed.

Appropriate respondents were found via employment status demographic criteria and a screening question. To take the survey respondents had to answer that they currently have at least one direct report.

This survey was conducted on September 1, 2022. All respondents were asked to answer all questions truthfully and to the best of their abilities. For full survey data, please email Content Marketing Manager Julia Morrissey at [email protected]