What Are Quiet Layoffs? Employee Reduction Method Explained

This new term describes the process of giving employees advanced notice of firings so they can plan for the future.

Company firings might be changing for businesses around the world, as a new phenomenon describes as “quiet layoffs” has become more popular in 2024.

There’s always a new tech term to learn in the modern era. Between quiet quitting and tech neck, the business world is constantly undergoing a significant paradigm shift, and linguistics are quick to establish a new way to describe it.

In this guide, we’ll explain exactly what quiet layoffs are, how they compare to quiet firing, and whether or not this new trend is good for employees or if it just stresses them out more.

What Are Quiet Layoffs?

Quiet layoffs describe the employee reduction process of giving employees advanced notice that they will be let go from the company in the near future. Effectively, the employees in question will be given a time period, anywhere between a few weeks and a few months, before they actually lose compensation and benefits.

In the same way as a two-week notice gives a company time to find a replacement for an employee, quiet layoffs give employees a bit of time to a make a plan after they are terminated. Whether it be looking for a new job or signing up for some kind of assistance, quiet layoffs are designed to make the layoff process a bit less brutal on the employee.

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Quiet Layoffs: Pros & Cons

Any business trend is going to have its pros and cons when it comes to your workforce, but it’s all about decision making in the long run. Here are some of the pros and cons of quiet layoffs at your business.

Pros of Quiet Layoffs

For one, the ability to give your employees a bit of time to plan for the future is simply a nice thing to do. The urgency of termination at some businesses can cause dramatic exits, particularly when a lot of roles are tied to important benefits like health insurance. In that vein, quiet layoffs can contribute to better morale for your team, as you won’t be sowing the seeds of your own demise every time someone gets fired.

On top of that, quiet layoffs can help tone down the instances of bad press that come from mass layoffs. It creates less of a spectacle at the company, which means that you aren’t going to be inundated with reporters trying to find out how many employees were axed in a single day.

Cons of Quiet Layoffs

Quiet layoffs can be good when done properly, but there’s always the potential for something to go wrong. Right out of the gate, many employers worry that knowledge of the layoff ahead of time could leave them open to potential security breaches, as a disgruntled employee will still have access to company data on a regular basis.

Additionally, advanced notice of layoffs can actually have a negative impact on mental health, especially if a date isn’t set in advance. The idea that “any day could be your last” could be increasingly stressful on a daily basis, ruining any hope of productivity or successful job search.

The Difference Between Quiet Layoffs and Quiet Firing

With all the tech lingo circulating in 2024, it’s safe to assume that getting it all in line is difficult for the average employee. After all, how many different kinds of quiet employment are out there for people to decipher?

One notably confusing distinction is that between quiet layoffs and quiet firing. While the nomenclature is quite similar, these two employee reduction methods are decidedly different, particularly from the employee’s point of view.

As we mentioned, quiet layoffs are the act of giving employees advanced notice of layoffs so that they have time to plan for the future. Quiet firing, on the other hand, is the process of making a role undesirable — typically through initiatives like return-to-office mandates and rigorous performance reviews — so that employees will quit rather than be fired.

Suffice to say, quiet layoffs are an admittedly more humane version of employee reduction than quiet firing, in the same way breaking up with someone face to face is better than being mean to them until they break up with you is a more humane way to end a relationship.

Should Your Business Do Quiet Layoffs?

Unlike the majority of new tech terms in the last few years, quiet layoffs actually seems like a better alternative to the current system. The process allows for employees to have a bit of notice, so they can start the job search a little early, which will help given the slow hiring process that has gripped so many businesses.

There are obviously pitfalls, and if you’re concerned about disgruntled employees stealing valuable company data, you might want to reconsider. But as long as you’re doing it the right way, you should be able to foster a healthier work environment in the long run.

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Written by:
Conor is the Lead Writer for Tech.co. For the last six years, he’s covered everything from tech news and product reviews to digital marketing trends and business tech innovations. He's written guest posts for the likes of Forbes, Chase, WeWork, and many others, covering tech trends, business resources, and everything in between. He's also participated in events for SXSW, Tech in Motion, and General Assembly, to name a few. He also cannot pronounce the word "colloquially" correctly. You can email Conor at conor@tech.co.
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