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Should You Jump on the “Quiet Hiring” Trend?

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A recent article from Gartner, which put so-called “quiet hiring” on the list of key 2023 workplace trends, has launched another round of talent- and recruiting-related debates.

What is quiet hiring? Is it good for employers? What about employees—do they like to be “quiet hired”? Does it contribute to talent retention? Let’s take a look.

A Longstanding Practice: Promoting from Within

Buzzwords aside, quiet hiring is nothing new. The term refers to the practice of looking internally to fill immediate talent needs. Without posting a position or consulting with a staffing agency, employers simply match existing employees to jobs at hand. Quietly.

The employee on the 5th floor who’s always up for a challenge—you can quiet hire him to handle a high-priority project. The team member taking coding courses after hours may enjoy the chance join an understaffed IT initiative.

Anyone who is “quiet quitting”—doing the bare minimum prescribed by their job description—is not a target for quiet hiring. This trend is all about identifying and offering opportunities to team members who are engaged and committed to your organization.

How Quiet Hiring Benefits Employers

Quiet hiring is an answer to a veritable perfect storm in the current talent landscape:

  • An uncertain economic outlook has led some employers to slow recruitment efforts. An organization may not have imposed a hiring freeze but still demand extra caution when choosing where to add headcount.
  • The labor market remains tight, with more openings than there are unemployed individuals seeking work. According to the most recent jobs report, relief may be slow to come.
  • Workplace expectations have changed, generationally and post-COVID. Younger workers in particular are increasingly focused on careers with mission, meaning, and opportunity—and quiet hiring can fit this mindset.

There are many advantages to quiet hiring. Tapping existing talent saves the time and expense of recruitment, screening, onboarding, and training. At a time when efficiencies are being sought, quiet hiring is a boon for the budget.

What’s more, because a quiet hire has a track record with the company, employers can be more confident that they will fit the culture and align with the organization’s objectives.

Most employers will find quiet hiring a helpful option to add to their recruitment arsenal. Results will be even more impressive if internal promotion is pursued intentionally and proactively. Offer training and development, invite employees to expand their contributions and impact, and clearly define why taking on increasing responsibility matters—for the company and their personal goal achievement.

One Caveat: Take an Employee-Centric Approach

Employees tend to express reservations about quiet hiring when they see it as unfair or even coercive. If an organization fails to address high turnover and presses an employee into service to fill-in indefinitely for colleagues who have departed—without a promotion or pay increase—blowback is likely.

The good news is that many team members are reveling in “The Great Reengagement,” the pro-career pendulum swing following the Great Resignation. They may be more willing than ever to contribute toward the company good, especially if lean times arrive. Exploitation, however, is a different matter.

To make quiet hiring work for employees, tie new responsibilities with career advancement. Consider investing some of the recruitment savings in raises and bonuses. Integrate new tools to increase efficiency and thereby decrease workload overwhelm when employees are asked to pull “double duty.”

Most importantly, quiet hire the willing and eager, those looking for the next challenge. That way, quiet hiring can enhance retention of your best talent and even help you build a reputation as a workplace full of opportunity. 

The Takeaway

The next time you have a need to fill, take a moment of silence and look inside for the answer. The perfect person for the job may be working quietly, close by.

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