What is “Quiet Firing” and How is it Affecting Your Private Practice

You may have heard of “Quiet Quitting” but are you familiar with “Quiet Firing?” 

If you’re an executive or leader in the workplace, you may be guilty of it. Quiet Firing is where employees are gradually phased out of their roles without a clear explanation or communication from their employer. Often, they are subjected to a form of gaslighting by being subjected to toxic work environments without support from leadership. 

This method of phasing out staff is not only unfair to the affected employee, but can also have negative effects on the morale and productivity of the remaining team members. Plus, if the remaining employees are forced to pick up the slack, it can eventually lead to a faster burnout for them too. And you definitely can’t afford that.

Quiet firings often occur because managers are reluctant to have difficult conversations with employees about performance issues rather than take the appropriate steps to get more productivity from their staff. They may also be hesitant to address the issue for fear of legal repercussions. However, it’s ultimately the responsibility of the manager to have these difficult conversations, as it’s their job to ensure the team is performing at its best.

As practice management experts, our coaching calls with private practice owners often shows that quiet firing can damage the trust and engagement, not just of the staff member involved, but also the remaining employees who see it in action (or should we say inaction). When an employee is gradually phased out without any explanation, it can create a sense of uncertainty and insecurity among the team. In the same way, owners can sometimes begin favoring a particular clinician which can lead to increased hours for them and decreased hours for the forgotten clinician who is being “quiet fired.” Both situations can lead to decreased morale and productivity, as well as increased turnover.

Luckily, there are a number of ways to avoid quiet firings and instead have a more direct and open communication with employees about performance issues. These include setting clear expectations and goals for employees, providing regular feedback, and having difficult conversations early on, before the situation becomes untenable.

As a manager, you should increase your “confront” and address the problematic employee in a professional manner. As an alternative to firing, you may consider providing additional training or coaching, or reassigning the employee to a different role within the company. By taking these steps, leaders can play a stronger role and ensure that employees understand the reasons for any performance issues and are given the opportunity to improve.

In light of these issues, it’s important for executives at physical therapy clinics to avoid using quiet firing as a method for ignoring, undermining or terminating employees. Instead, they should opt for a more transparent and open approach, such as providing clear communication and direction for staff members early on.

Ready to change your tune? We recommend scheduling regular staff meetings, even if they’re just 10 minutes long, to show up and provide updates on the clinic’s performance and address any problems that may have been identified. They can also involve the staff members in the decision-making process, by seeking their input and feedback. And, if they have questions or concerns of their own, be sure to address them immediately. 

If the situation remains untenable, it’s also important for managers to make sure that the staff member is aware of the reasons they are being terminated. This will help remaining staff members understand that the employee was terminated for a reason that conflicted with the mission of the clinic and its culture.

Since quiet firing can be disruptive to managing staff at your physical therapy clinic and will likely create confusion and mistrust within the company culture, you and the leaders at your practice should opt for a more transparent and open approach that is built on a foundation of clear communication and performance reviews. By doing so, you’ll help maintain a positive and productive work environment for everyone on staff.

MEG Academy - Physical Therapy Business Training

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