Experts: ‘Quiet cutting’ employees makes no sense, and it’s costly

Companies are increasingly using role reassignments as a strategy to sidestep expensive layoffs, according to some tech industry experts. But they see it as generally short-sighted and likely to do a company more harm than good.

As with last year’s ‘quiet quitting‘ trend, quiet cutting appears to be a concept originally coined in the media — in this case, by The New York Times. The practice involves reassigning workers to roles that don’t align with their career goals to achieve workforce reduction by voluntary attrition — allowing companies to avoid paying costly severance packages or unemployment benefits.

“Companies are increasingly using role reassignments as a strategy to sidestep expensive layoffs,” said Annie Rosencrans, people and culture director at HiBob, a human resource platform provider. “By redistributing roles within the workforce, organizations can manage costs while retaining valuable talent, aligning with the current trend of seeking alternatives to traditional layoffs.”

Recognizing the signs of having been quietly cut is crucial for an employee to address the situation. It often involves withholding career advancement opportunities, denying compensation adjustments, assigning unpleasant tasks, creating unnecessary hurdles, and even isolating employees, according to Rosencrans.

“It can manifest as slowed growth, broken promises, a lack of feedback, and an encouragement for co-workers to distance themselves from the affected employee,” Rosencrans said.

shutterstockbaza production Shutterstock/Baza

What’s behind quiet cutting?

Zachary Chertok, research manager for IDC’s Employee Experience practice, said a variety of issues have combined to prompt quiet cutting among organizations. For one, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies went on a hiring spree as remote work put digitization projects on steroids and employees left the workforce permanently or reevaluated their career directions.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

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