Quiet Cutting: A New Approach to Workforce Reduction

Companies reassign employees or reallocate their skills rather than let them go.


Tony Hackett

9/29/20232 min read

a robot is standing in front of a robot
a robot is standing in front of a robot

In times of economic uncertainty, businesses often face the task of streamlining their operations and making tough decisions about workforce reduction. Layoffs have been the go-to method for employers, but in recent years, an alternative approach known as “quiet cutting” has emerged. This approach, highlighted by a Wall Street Journal article titled “Quiet cutting: workers are being reassigned instead of let go,” offers an alternative perspective on how organizations can navigate staff reductions while maintaining productivity and employee morale.

Understanding Quiet Cutting

Quiet cutting refers to a practice where companies reassign employees or reallocate their skills within the organization rather than letting them go outright. Instead of abrupt separations, this approach aims to minimize disruption and offer employees opportunities to explore new roles or develop skills within the company.

Benefits for Employers

1. Cost Savings: One significant advantage of quiet cutting is its potential for cost savings. While layoffs can be costly because of severance packages and legal matters, quiet cutting allows businesses to keep skilled workers without incurring these expenses.

2. Mitigating Rehiring Costs: By retaining employees within the organization, businesses can avoid rehiring costs associated with recruiting and training new staff when the need arises again.

3. Protecting Company Culture: Organizations invest substantial resources in building a positive work culture and fostering collaboration among their workforce. With quiet cutting, companies can preserve their talents and maintain team dynamics, contributing to long-term success.

Benefits for Employees

1. Job Security: In uncertain times, job security becomes paramount. By opting for quiet cutting instead of layoffs, employers prove they value their employees’ contributions and will invest in them even during challenging periods.

2. Career Growth Opportunities: Quiet cutting opens up avenues for career development within a single organization, as employees can explore different roles or departments. This can lead to a more dynamic and fulfilling career trajectory.

3. Skill Diversification: Workers can develop new skills or gain experience in different areas as companies reassign employees. This enhances their employability and equips them with a broader skillset that can contribute to their professional growth.

Considerations for Successful Quiet Cutting

1. Strategic Workforce Planning: Companies implementing reduction strategies must engage in thorough workforce planning. Assessing future business needs, identifying skill gaps, and aligning roles and responsibilities will enable a smooth transition.

2. Open Communication and Transparency: Change management is crucial when implementing quiet-cutting practices. Employers need to maintain open lines of communication, showing transparency about the reasons behind these changes and providing clear expectations for affected employees.

3. Employee Support: Supporting employees through this transition helps cut any anxieties about changing roles or departments. Resources such as training programs or mentorship opportunities can support their growth during this period.


The concept of quiet cutting presents an alternative approach to traditional layoffs that benefits businesses and employees. Rather than severing the employment relationship completely, organizations opting for quiet cutting recognize the value of their existing workforce and invest in their long-term success within the company. Companies can weather economic challenges by focusing on job security, career development opportunities, and upskilling experiences while fostering loyalty and maintaining employee productivity.