Employers find new ways to 'quiet fire'

Amid an uncertain economic outlook, employers are finding ways to thin their workforce other than outright layoffs, The Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 26. 

The term "quiet firing" arose last year to describe this behavior — employers impose stricter regulations or make conditions harsher for employees, in hopes they will leave on their own. Organizations are regaining power over workers, who had the upper hand at the labor market's tightest; and as they look to cut costs ahead of a potential recession, they are experimenting with new forms of quiet firing. 

Meta recently issued harsh performance reviews, deeming thousands of employees subpar. Walt Disney Co. is requiring remote workers to return to the office four days a week. And Walmart is closing multiple technology hubs, requiring workers to relocate if they wish to stay on the payroll. 

These moves signal a power shift within the labor market. 

"There's less employer desperation," Aaron Sojourner, a senior researcher at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, told the Journal. "Employers feel a little more empowered to impose the things that they want."

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