Why quiet hiring and other trends are symptoms of a larger problem

Quiet hiring, quiet firing and rage applying are all trendy words for symptoms of a larger problem ...

Quiet hiring, quiet firing, acting your wage, ghosting and rage applying are all trendy words for symptoms of a larger problem. These are the choices people make when a workplace is either in trouble, dysfunctional or projecting toxicity.

If you are experiencing some or all of these issues, it's time to take a hard look at how you can boost current and future employee happiness.

The terms and details

Quiet hiring

At first blush, quiet hiring and employee development seem a lot alike and that's because they both solve for talent gaps. However, intention plays an important role.

Upskilling employees specifically to give them more responsibilities and fill gaps and outsourcing to freelancers and short-term contractors are both quiet hiring methods, but the latter doesn't come up against employee development.

Tip: Are you still unclear about the intersection of these two terms? We go over the overlap between them in-depth in this blog.

Though some may argue otherwise, quiet hiring doesn't always have to be toxic. To be productive, it must help your employees continue along their career path, as opposed to shifting a business burden to a reliable team member, purely to save money.

The main issue people have with quiet hiring is that it can be a stop-gap method for employers that need people to wear multiple hats to weather a storm. This is one of the ways that employees burn out and is why many take to social media to blast said employers.

Quiet firing

Unlike quiet hiring, quiet firing is nearly always a toxic trend. It's a passive-aggressive way to push team members out without having to formally fire them.

Simply put, quiet firing is not transparent or fair to employees. No one wants to be that kind of employer ... right?

Acting your wage

We'll admit some of the social media content about acting your wage is just silly, but it does have a point. Acting your wage essentially means that if your employees think they're making too little, they'll do work that they feel is equal to your investment in them.

This term is similar to quiet quitting because it is also characterized by limited engagement, but is tempered by a willingness to take on more work if you provide better compensation.

Both low and high performers will act their wage depending on their frustration levels. When a high performer disengages it may be their way of setting workplace boundaries. Watch out though ... boundary-setting of this kind can quickly lead to actual quitting if an employer isn't mindful of their response.


Ghosting has been around for quite some time compared to some of the other hiring trends we've covered. If you're not familiar with the word, on the job seeker side it means "not showing up to interviews and even disappearing on the first day of work."

Note: Employers are guilty of ghosting too. This usually occurs when candidates receive zero communication after an interview and are left wondering what went wrong.

Indeed did some research about the reasons job seekers might ghost and uncovered the top five categories:

  1. The job wasn't right for them
  2. The company wasn't for them
  3. The pay offer wasn’t enough or wouldn’t have been enough for them
  4. The benefits weren't good enough
  5. They received another job offer

While it's never reasonable to ghost an employer, hiring managers who are getting ghosted regularly can use this list to make themselves more competitive.

Rage applying

Like acting your wage, this trend is a largely emotional response. Per Forbes, any of the following can lead to rage applying:


  • Overlooked
  • Underappreciated
  • Passed over
  • Unfairly compensated

describes it as "aggressively shotgunning your résumé to several companies to find a new job and hefty pay increase quickly." Think of it as lashing out productively in a last-resort manner.

Ultimately, employees who rage apply don't feel respected and that is a problem employers need to pay attention to.

What you can do

In many situations, employers are in the driver's seat to effect change that will make employees feel better about their workplace. Here's a six-step action plan:

  1. Re-examine your workplace culture – Are the people who work for you happy? If not, do some digging and find out why and then change things accordingly.

  2. Take a look at your benefitsIf you haven't looked at your benefits lately, it's time to consider updating them to better serve your team's needs.

  3. Be transparent about pay – Nothing is worse than going through several rounds of interviews only to be told the salary is thousands of dollars less than your cost of living. Don't do this to job seekers. Consider including the pay in the job description to avoid wasted time by recruiters and candidates alike.

  4. Audit your pay levels and make sure they are competitive – Hand-in-hand with pay transparency is providing market-level compensation. Do your research and adjust your rates accordingly if you are struggling to hire and retain talent.

  5. Dig deep into how you promote or develop employees – Think about the processes you have in place to help employees flourish. They look to you for career guidance and that extra care can result in improved longevity.

  6. Be respectful at every stage in the hiring process and continue that trend after they are brought on board – The employee experience should be positive from the get-go and must remain that way for their tenure. If something doesn't feel right to them along the way, they will react (sometimes very publicly).

It all boils down to this – happiness matters and there's always a good reason why your team members or potential hires aren't feeling it. If toxic trends are taking over your workplace, do the work to uncover the weak points so you can improve your retention and boost your hiring efficacy.

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