2 min read

The hidden cost of silent sacking


Susie Lee-Kilgariff

Group Head of Marketing

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By now, most of us have heard of 'silent quitting', the concept of an employee doing the bare minimum required in their job. They do enough to avoid disciplinary action, but never go above and beyond their job description.

But are you aware of its opposite number, 'silent sacking'? This happens more frequently with contract or interim staff, and is defined as the process whereby a contractor is let go before the end of their contract, or when it expires, even when a project isn't yet complete. Often this happens with no explanation, or an excuse which both sides suspect doesn't get to the real issue.

The temporary nature of project teams, and the relative lack of employment law governing these relationships, can give client-side managers a reason not to invest in getting to know a contractor or build rapport in the same way you may with a permanent employee. After all, you usually just need a job doing and don't need to take into account an individual's career aspirations or personal development ambitions.

However, could you be shooting yourself in the foot if you're not careful? If a contract relationship is turning sour and you feel it's easiest to just let the person go rather than tackle some awkward truths, have you considered the hidden costs?

1. Project momentum

If you don't address the issue causing the friction, you risk stalling the momentum of a project. Even though most high quality contractors can hit the ground running, they still need to be met and onboarded, and will take a bit of time to get their heads around the task in hand. Changing out staff can lead to delays, increased costs and compromise the service you're delivering.

2. Wasted resources

It seems obvious to say this but you could be wasting your own time and money by not letting a contractor finish the job they've been employed to do. It can render the work they've already done meaningless, as it often proves difficult for someone else to pick up a task half way through.

3. Morale and trust

In the event that a colleague is silently let go and doesn't fully understand why, it can demoralise the remaining team. You may see compliance increase, and less willingness to challenge, neither of which are conducive to the best outcomes.

4. Knowledge drain

When a contractor leaves under a cloud, valuable project-specific knowledge goes with them. Unlike an employee, a contractor may not have an obligation to engage in detailed knowledge transfer.

At Stellarmann, we frequently come across situations where project leaders can't fully answer what members of their teams are doing. Often this is a result of deliverables that haven't been clearly defined enough, or project scope having changed so many times or to such a degree that oversight hasn't kept pace. Sometimes, it's easier to blame a lack of cultural fit than to tackle these more difficult challenges.

Our model addresses these challenges via our Solutions and Delivery team. As experienced project delivery managers themselves, it's their job to ensure clear Statements of Work are agreed and then delivered against. Rigorous controls and regular reviews keep them up to date, and their position as an independent third party can nip any performance issues in the bud.

Ready. Set. Go.

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