At the start of the new year, business leaders reported that companies are slowing down on hiring externally with quiet hiring playing a major role in 2023. Joining the ranks of silent workplace trends—quiet quitting and quiet firing—the quiet hiring culture is intended to assuage the immediate and acute needs of businesses in the new year. But here’s the thing, according to Oliver Staehelin, chief strategy officer at Harver, there’s nothing new about ‘quiet hiring.’ Essentially, terms like “quiet quitting” and “quiet hiring” represent a repackaging of employment trends around for decades.

Quiet hiring, Staehelin told me in an email, is something he does every day—known by the more common phrase: Internal Mobility. “It’s the concept of up-skilling or re-skilling employees internally, rather than hiring externally, and repositioning them in either a new department or a promoted role to fill organizational needs,” he explains. “Moving employees horizontally within your organization to new roles or vertically within their current career path, is a viable alternative to further competing for highly contested external talent in the year ahead and beyond. Furthermore, the process of re-skilling and/or up-skilling employees to fill roles increases retention, streamlines the hiring process and eliminates steep hiring costs. Sourcing internal talent for company roles amid current acquisition challenges isn’t just easier; it’s also cheaper and faster while maintaining quality of hire.”

Ian Cook, vice president of people analytics at Visier, agrees that the term “quiet hiring” might be new, but the actual practice isn’t. “Enlightened HR teams have been doing this for years, realizing that there are benefits to having internal employees take on new responsibilities outside their initial workload,” Cook reminds us. “Internal mobility is not a linear path, so allowing employees to explore new job responsibilities may open up new avenues for career advancement.”

Whether you call it “Quiet Hiring” or “Internal Mobility,” the strategy is a proven way to navigate talent acquisition and overall talent lifecycle management altogether, no matter the economic climate, according to Staehelin. Still, he insists that given the realities of 2023, it should be a crucial strategy for leaders as they assess their organizations’ hiring budgets and navigate planning for the year. According to Dr. Greg Barnett, chief people scientist at Top Workplaces, the concept of quiet hiring has been in practice well before the term was popularized. “Just as the buzz of quiet quitting has started to quiet, so will quiet hiring. Both terms are new and popular, but they describe work realities that have existed for decades. While the terms’ popularity will fade, the practices will continue.”

Staehelin noted that, “Ultimately, regardless of the state of unemployment and labor participation rates and how they are trending, companies face the reality that we are currently in the beginning stages of what experts believe will be a sustained workforce crisis,” he said, adding, “Simply put, there aren’t as many working-age people in this generation as there were in prior generations. Therefore, up-skilling and re-skilling current employees to mobilize them across your organization and effectively ‘create’ candidates, is a critical step in ensuring key company roles are filled. Companies must hire for the company’s best interests, not just to fill a specific role, and internal mobility can help.”

According to Barnett, “Quiet hiring, just like quiet quitting, continues to shine a light on the employee condition in terms of fairness, boundaries and burnout.” He insists that, “If the economy continues to falter, we will see significant tensions increase between the employee-centric view that has taken hold in the past couple of years and the need for company survival that accompanies recession. The major question is whether the buzz will continue to shine if the labor market disappears. As companies start taking more drastic steps including hiring freezes and layoffs, quiet hiring is the go-to strategy for business survival.”

So, why do pundits keep throwing around these clever, “quiet” phrases when the practices have been around for years? Some people groan that snappy buzzwords make serious problems sound fake and risk trivializing the trends, turning off professionals and readers. Others like Jena McGegor, Forbes senior editor of careers and leadership strategy, are feeling soured on the “quiet culture,” rolling their eyes and speaking up to “Quell the Quiet.”

And since employees are calling for greater workplace openness and transparency and quiet hiring offers so many business advantages, why be so quiet about it to begin with? Jeff Schwartz, vice president of insights & impact at Gloat, addresses this issue head on. “Forward thinking employers must provide the opportunity for internal mobility, access and re-skilling to meet the needs of businesses for responsible growth while providing our employees with new skills and growth opportunities within and across our companies,” he concludes. “Maybe we shouldn’t be so quiet about this massive opportunity after all.”


  • Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Journalist, psychotherapist, and Author of 40 books.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D. is a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, psychotherapist in private practice, and award-winning author of two novels and 40 nonfiction books that have been translated into 15 languages. His latest books are CHAINED TO THE DESK IN A HYBRID WORLD: A GUIDE TO WORK-LIFE BALANCE (New York University Press, 2023)#CHILL: TURN OFF YOUR JOB AND TURN ON YOUR LIFE (William Morrow, 2019), DAILY WRITING RESILIENCE: 365 MEDITATIONS & INSPIRATIONS FOR WRITERS (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2018). He is a regular contributor to, Psychology Today, and Thrive Global. He has appeared on 20/20, Good Morning America, The CBS Early Show, ABC's World News Tonight, NPR’s Marketplace, NBC Nightly News and he hosted the PBS documentary "Overdoing It: How To Slow Down And Take Care Of Yourself." website: