Over the last year, we’ve seen a number of workplace buzzwords hit the headlines. While some of those terms refer to trends like “quiet quitting” and “quiet firing,” there’s another phenomenon on the horizon called “quiet hiring.” Experts at Gartner recently listed this trend as one of the top workforce predictions for 2023. But what is it, and how will it shape the future of work?
According to Emily Rose McRae, Sr. Director of Research at Gartner, “quiet hiring is when an organization acquires new skills without actually hiring new full-time employees.” While it can refer to bringing on short-term contractors, it usually means giving current employees more responsibilities beyond their current job description. Some examples include moving to other positions or taking on different projects internally.
While quiet hiring can benefit the organization, it may also frustrate workers who don’t necessarily want to transition to roles they may not be interested in. Let’s examine why this trend is gaining ground and what it means for employers and employees.
Why is quiet hiring becoming more prevalent?
Organizations today face a competitive hiring landscape, an economic slowdown and pressure to keep costs down. That means there is a struggle to find new talent while trying to retain top performers with in-demand skills. What makes the situation even more challenging is that staffing budgets are mostly staying flat or decreasing. As a result, many organizations feel they need to get creative and will turn to quiet hiring to fill the gaps.
How does quiet hiring benefit employers?
One of the most obvious benefits for employers is that quiet hiring is an efficient, cost-effective way to fill skills gaps without hiring additional full-time workers. As a result, the organization can leverage internal talent rather than going through a lengthy recruitment process to meet an immediate need. It also provides flexibility because you can quickly deploy resources against the highest priority areas of the business. In addition, upskilling employees can increase retention, engagement and productivity. Take Google, for example. The Silicon Valley company uses quiet hiring to identify internal staff already going above and beyond their job descriptions. Once employees prove themselves, they are more likely to get raises and promotions. When employers can’t find the necessary talent in-house, they experiment with alternatives like hiring contract and gig workers. Ultimately, quiet hiring saves the company time, money and resources.
How can employees make quiet hiring work for them?
While quiet hiring sounds like it only benefits employers, it can also help employees. If you’ve been asked to take on a stretch assignment or new role, clarify expectations. The last thing you want is to take on more than you can handle and end up in a state of burnout. Next, work with your manager to set up success metrics so you can document your performance. If you’re taking on additional responsibilities, then it’s fair to expect a pay increase. If that isn’t an option, consider negotiating for other benefits like a bonus, flexible hours or additional time off. Also, ensure you have the training and support you need to succeed. A major advantage of tackling new assignments is that you can expand your skillset, which makes you a more well-rounded, valuable employee. It can also help you network with colleagues in other business areas and test the waters in a department you may be interested in. Ultimately, if you excel in a job function that is a step up, you can use that as leverage to negotiate a future promotion.
Companies that truly benefit from this practice will take an ethical approach to quiet hiring. Employees don’t want to feel taken advantage of. That means having leaders present new assignments as learning opportunities with the potential to earn a promotion and a salary increase. If the arrangement is simply a short-term fix to get the company through a challenging time, then management should communicate that. With employee retention a top priority for organizations, there’s never been a better time to support employees through honesty, transparency and recognition of a job well done.