What is Quiet Hiring?

Quiet Hiring is a strategic move within a business that optimises existing resources to meet new challenges or emerging opportunities. All without engaging in the traditional recruitment process. This process refocuses the organisation’s current workforce to fill skill gaps, take on new projects, or expand the business. It can also be used to ensure businesses can retain their staff when the traditional business environment suffers. You will have seen this during COVID-19 times or more recently as crippling inflation exists as a global financial challenge.

Rather than recruiting new employees, companies identify and harness the untapped or useful skills of their existing staff, assigning them to roles or projects that may lie outside their usual remit.

Cynically, you could just call it ‘internal reassignment’, but it is usually much more than that. As a baseline, it normally involves investing in training and development to upskill current employees with the necessary ability to undertake new challenges.

Is it just bad management?

Some may interpret quiet hiring as a sign of poor management, viewing it as an attempt to stretch resources super thin or avoid the investment required for proper recruitment and training. This overlooks its potential as a strategic asset in talent management.

Cynics argue that this practice is an attempt to avoid the costs and efforts associated with traditional recruitment processes and places undue pressure on existing staff. However, this is very dismissive and ignores the complex layers involved in quiet hiring. Done poorly it is exploitative, but when properly implemented it is a deliberate, thoughtful approach to optimising workforce capabilities that aligns staff with evolving business objectives.

You could even say that Quiet Hiring is top shelf adaptive management! It requires leaders to have a solid understanding of their team’s skills, aspirations, and capacity for growth. Imagine if your company could develop a culture where internal mobility is encouraged, and employees are given opportunities to stretch their abilities and contribute to different areas of the business? An organisation’s commitment to leveraging internal talent and recognising the potential within its ranks is hardly a sign of management weakness.

Expanding your skills means a better professional future for you, right?

The significant value quiet hiring creates for employees lies in the opportunity for skill expansion and career development. Being assigned new responsibilities or roles diversifies your experience and enhances your employability. It signifies trust from management and can be a stepping stone to more significant opportunities within or outside the current business. The key is to ensure these new duties align with your career goals and contribute to professional growth, not just an increased workload.

Discuss pay increases for new or extra work

Talking about compensation is appropriate when additional responsibilities significantly alter an employee’s role. An open discussion about pay adjustments reflects fairness and recognition of the extra value an employee brings to the organisation through their expanded capability. Considering external training and development might be involved, you have a clear direction for the employment relationship to head. A business will normally pay for the upskilling and should be aware that a more skilled employee is subsequently more valuable. As above, this is particularly relevant when the new skills are outside the remit of the current job description.

Know when you are being ‘quietly hired’

For employees, awareness is critical. Recognising when you are being ‘quietly hired’ allows you to take proactive steps. Start conversations about how these changes align with your career goals. Seek clarity on expectations, and discuss potential adjustments in compensation or support needed to succeed in the new role.

Understand the market and the reasons it is happening

Quiet Hiring reflects broader market trends and organisational needs. Rapid technological advancements, shifting consumer demands, and the need for agility in competitive landscapes drive companies to adjust their workforce on the go. Understanding these factors gives clues as to why organisations adopt quiet hiring practices and how employees can navigate these changes to their advantage.

Discuss career alignment

For both employers and employees, ensuring that quiet hiring aligns with long-term career goals is essential. Employees should discuss with their managers, their career aspirations and how new responsibilities could be an opportunity for growth. For employers, aligning quiet hiring practices with employee development plans will boost retention and satisfaction.

Attention Managers: How to Quiet Hire properly

For managers, implementing Quiet Hiring effectively involves several important steps. Firstly, transparent communication is a must. Employees should understand the thinking behind new assignments and how these fit into broader organisational goals. On top of conversations around the ‘why’, providing necessary training and resources is crucial to support staff in their new roles. Regular feedback and recognition also play vital roles in ensuring the success of quiet hiring in maintaining motivation and engagement.

Quiet Hiring is not a horrid thing but can be done terribly

Quiet Hiring, in essence, is not a negative practice. It becomes problematic only when pulled off without transparency, support, and consideration for employees’ career paths and well-being. Properly managed, it can offer a win-win scenario. Organisations remain competitive and agile, while employees gain valuable experiences and growth opportunities. The key lies in the approach, ensuring that it benefits both the organisation and its employees.

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