What is 'quiet hiring' and why is it trending in the workplace?

‘Quiet hiring’ is the new HR trend. Can it benefit employees as much as employers?
‘Quiet hiring’ is the new HR trend. Can it benefit employees as much as employers? Copyright Canva
By Imane El Atillah
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Quiet hiring allows employers to keep a steady headcount and focus instead on upskilling existing staff. But is it really a win-win?

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After quiet quitting, "quiet hiring" is the new workplace buzzword that employees and employers need to be aware of.

Quiet hiring is when an organisation leverages current employees' capabilities to acquire new skills without recruiting new full-time staff. It was ranked among the “top nine work trends for 2023” by technological research and consulting firm Gartner.

According to Emily Rose McRae, who leads the Future of Work research team in Gartner's human resources practice, quiet hiring allows employers to keep a steady headcount by focusing instead on nurturing and promoting in-house talent. This strategy can also give current employees the chance to upskill and experiment with new tasks.

“The reality for the next year is - whether or not we go into a recession - everyone’s a little nervous. In a lot of cases, organisations are not necessarily doing a hiring freeze, or layoffs, but maybe slowing down a little bit on their hiring,” McRae told CNBC.

Quiet hiring has actually been practiced for a very long time, it is nothing new. However, the current economic crisis and threats of recession may explain the emergence of this new workplace buzzword, Cary Cooper, an organisational psychology professor at The University of Manchester and a member of the Academy of Management, told Fortune.

Is quiet hiring a win-win for employers and employees?

As companies face financial hardship and resort to mass layoffs, many are turning to quiet hiring to fill skill gaps and save resources.

According to Gartner, this focus on mobilising internal talent to address organisational needs can be a win-win for both the company and the employees. If done correctly, it can fulfil employees’ career aspirations and boost their loyalty while keeping payroll costs under control.

However, the pitfalls of quiet hiring lie in asking too much from employees who may already feel overworked and burning out - a key reason behind the 2022 trend of quiet quitting - or in giving them extra responsibilities beyond their current job description without a proper promotion or raise.

As conveyed in Gartner’s research, quiet hiring is not just about asking employees to do more, but about identifying where talent is most needed and redeploying in-house talent towards the organisation’s new goals.

Employees are set to benefit as well and take advantage of new opportunities to advance their careers by either growing their skills or learning new ones.

Organisations are also expected to offer some sort of compensation for the extra work and projects employees are taking on, either in the form of bonuses, extra time off, or flexible hours and working conditions.

How to benefit fully from quiet hiring

Quiet hiring can also help reduce the pressure, for employees, of having to apply for a new role in a competitive job market.

Instead of having to compete with external candidates, workers can be approached for new opportunities within their organisation based on their skills and expertise. This can provide a sense of stability while offering opportunities for professional development.

However, as organisations continue to adopt quiet hiring, it is essential for employees to remain vigilant and ensure that they are not being taken advantage of.

“If the company asks you (an employee) to switch to some other role looking after evaluating your work and if you feel that the role being offered is of better grade, then do state your conditions concerning work hours and internal appraisal,” Swastik Jain an HR expert told CNBCtv18.

McRae emphasises that quiet hiring is not meant to exploit employees but rather to offer them space for professional growth.

“Organisations must strike a balance between building employees’ skills and protecting their well-being. Business leaders who find a way to do this successfully give their organisations a distinct competitive advantage,” she explains.

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