Big resignation, quiet quitting, quiet firing

Big resignation, quiet quitting, quiet firing… how damaged is the relationship between boss and employee?
Written on 08-09-2022

Big resignation, quiet quitting, quiet firing

Big resignation, quiet quitting, quiet firing… how damaged is the relationship between boss and employee? 

These are three relatively new terms that emerged during or in the aftermath of the corona pandemic. Although they are stamped by some as furtive fads, it would be wrong to minimize their (possible snowball) effect. What is certain is that all three had an exponential resonance on social media. They could cause serious shock effects in the labor market. The last thing one should do, however, is look at the phenomena with a fatalistic gaze and throw up one’s arms.

A dangerous silence

Let us start with “quiet quitting”. Here, the diligent attitude of employees is limited to working during fixed working hours and engaging in activities for their employer only during those hours. At first glance there is nothing immediately wrong with this.

The ” quiet quitting ” may be increasingly translated as a “quiet resignation”. This is how it has nevertheless taken on a life of its own on social media, on TikTok in particular. For its followers, however, it does not amount to resigning themselves, but rather to start limiting themselves to the bare minimum of what the job description entails in terms of duties. All without being fired.

Never doing overtime, refusing to be available outside working hours, performing only the tasks corresponding to the job, not solving problems with or for a colleague, etc.

Worthy working

In a video on TikTok, @Zaidleppelin, a young New Yorker, explains the principle of ‘quiet quitting’: “You drop the idea of outdoing yourself at work. You continue to do your tasks, but you no longer adhere to the ‘culture of burnout’ (or ‘toxic productivity culture’) that dictates that work should be your life. The truth is that work is not your life.” He concludes, “Your value as a person is not determined by your work.” Since then, videos accompanied by the hashtag #quietquitting have been multiplying in rapid succession.

This move is immediately reminiscent of another phenomenon, which has been around for some time. “The Big resignation”, a wave of people resigning in a wide range of sectors, which hit Europe in the first half of the year after hitting the United States. Indeed, some 47 million Americans quit their jobs in 2021.


Social networks have also seized massively on these layoffs, leading to a trend of filming his departure and publishing the video, accompanied by the hashtag #quitmyjob. These viral videos of layoffs on TikTok have even been called “quit-toks”.

Quality of life, the search for meaning, for a better balance between private and professional life, … Those who opt for a silent dismissal motivate this through various arguments. Those motivations were reinforced by the health crisis. It led to introspection among many employees, as well as the change of work and life rhythm caused by compulsory confinement and teleworking.

It may surprise few that another phenomenon, as a kind of perfidious antithesis, is now also getting some publicity in the same digital “marketplaces”: quiet firing.

Your boss is quietly forcing you to resign? You are a victim of “quiet firing”

This refers to this (sneaky) tactic used by some managers to push their employees out.

The phrase “quiet firing” first appeared on, you guessed it, TikTok. It all started with a short video in which US influencer DeAndre Brown denounces the sources of this most dubious management strategy. It involves demotivating an employee until he has no choice but to resign, out of boredom or frustration.

“Quiet firing” manifests itself in various forms. For example, an employer who wants to hasten the dismissal of one of his employees may deny him a pay rise or promotion for several years in a row. He may also restrict him to monotonous tasks, remove responsibilities, deny him any reasonable request for leave or claim credit for him or her. In short, everything is done in such a way that the employee “in the crosshairs” loses his motivation and no longer finds his place in the company.


No fatality 

Great resignation, “quiet quitting”, “quiet firing”… All these concepts and phenomena should wake us up and prompt leaders to rethink the organization and relationships in their companies to improve them. But it would be unfair and short-sighted to blame these phenomena solely on those who pay the wages of millions of people every month. Every one of us who is mentally and physically capable of doing a job should pause for a moment to think thoroughly about your capacity to contribute through your work to your employer or client and leading a humanely enriching life at the same time. Society does not ask you to do a job you do not like. Society expects that if you do a job, you do it well and with gusto. No sensible boss will “quiet fire” you in that case. If you do a job which lies too far off your core, you will do it poorly and end up “quiet quitting” or worse, burned-out.

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