Business

How Quiet Hiring is Impacting Work

Dan Nicholson

The modern workplace is changing rapidly, shaped by fresh trends and strategies that impact how companies hire. One trend making waves is “quiet hiring.” This approach is transforming how businesses manage their talent and resources. 

Understanding Quiet Hiring

Quiet hiring refers to the practice of acquiring new skills or temporarily filling roles without making traditional full-time hires. Harvard Business Review details several ways this can take place: it can involve reallocating existing employees to different tasks, promoting internal talent development, or hiring contractors for short-term projects. The term contrasts with the conventional recruitment process, focusing instead on maximizing the current workforce's potential.

Jennifer Kraszewski, vice president of human resources at Paycom, explains that this practice is not necessarily a new invention, but it is becoming an essential strategy in 2024. “The practice of companies upskilling current employees and moving them to new roles or focus areas, either on a temporary or permanent basis, in order to fit new or evolving business needs has been around for many years and is something smart businesses often do regularly,” she said to SHRM.

Historically, businesses often responded to labor shortages or skill gaps by hiring new full-time employees. However, with the rise of digital transformation and a dynamic economic landscape, organizations are increasingly turning to quiet hiring as a flexible solution. This approach helps companies adapt quickly to market changes without the long-term commitment of new hires.

Benefits for Employees and Employers

Quiet hiring offers several advantages for employers, as Emily Rose McRae, senior director of research at Gartner, explained in an interview with SHRM. “The main reason employers are doing this is because of the talent shortage. In some cases, the talent is not there, or hiring takes so long that the business is seriously impacted.”

To cover skill gaps, quiet hiring offers a quick and cost-effective solution. By reallocating or upskilling existing employees, organizations can bypass the often lengthy and costly process of external hiring. This not only saves on recruitment costs but also enhances workforce flexibility and agility.

Companies like Google and Grammarly have implemented quiet hiring strategies by encouraging internal mobility and professional development. This not only temporarily fills roles but also fosters a culture of continuous learning and adaptation.

This trend can significantly benefit employees as well by providing them with opportunities to learn new skills, take on new challenges, and increase their visibility within the company. Quiet hiring often involves task expansion and role diversification, which can lead to more fulfilling career paths. Deloitte found that only 26% of workers believe their employer treats them as a whole individual, who can offer unique contributions and a unique portfolio of skills to the organization.  Employees engaged in learning and moving across different functions tend to report higher job satisfaction and loyalty.

The Drawbacks of Quiet Hiring

Despite its benefits, quiet hiring is not without its challenges. For employees, the sudden shift in roles or added responsibilities can lead to job dissatisfaction, especially if the new roles align poorly with their career aspirations or personal interests. “You don't want to set people up for roles in which they will not be successful,” advises McRae. “Look to skill adjacencies and feasible role redesign.”

Furthermore, if not managed carefully, it can lead to internal discord if employees feel they are being moved around arbitrarily. There is also the risk of burnout from increased workloads that may accompany role changes without proper support or compensation adjustments.

For employers, while quiet hiring can be a quick fix, it might only sometimes resolve long-term staffing needs. Kraszewski warns of the “potential skills and knowledge gaps left when an individual or team pursues a new opportunity.” Reliance on internal resources can sometimes lead to skill mismatches and reduce the overall effectiveness of the workforce. 

Will Quiet Hiring Stick Around?

Looking ahead, quiet hiring is likely to become a staple in talent management strategies, particularly as the global economy and technological landscapes continue to evolve. This practice aligns well with the growing focus on agility and continuous learning within organizations, which is why Gartner named it as one of the top “Future of Work Trends”. As businesses increasingly prioritize adaptability, quiet hiring offers a viable pathway to remain competitive in a rapidly changing market.

However, for quiet hiring to be genuinely effective, companies must ensure it is part of a broader strategic approach to talent management. This includes providing adequate support for employees transitioning into new roles and ensuring transparent communication about career development opportunities. McRae says it’s important to present the right message to employees: “You are valued, and we want to place you where you can have the biggest impact on the business.”

Conclusion

Quiet hiring represents a significant shift in traditional employment strategies, reflecting broader changes in the global workforce landscape. By focusing on the internal development and flexible allocation of existing employees, companies can navigate economic and technological shifts more effectively. However, the success of quiet hiring depends on its integration into holistic human resource strategies that prioritize employee growth and organizational adaptability, ensuring mutual benefits for employees and employers alike.

Sources

Harvard Business Review

SHRM

Euronews

Deloitte

Gartner

Dan Nicholson is the author of “Rigging the Game: How to Achieve Financial Certainty, Navigate Risk and Make Money on Your Own Terms,” deemed a best-seller by USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. In addition to founding the award-winning accounting and financial consulting firm Nth Degree CPAs, Dan has created and run multiple small businesses, including Certainty U and the Certified Certainty Advisor program.

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