At the start of this year, business leaders note that companies are slowing down on hiring externally with the phenomenon of quiet hiring playing a major role in 2023. Jeff Schwartz, vice president of insights & impact at Gloat, describes quiet hiring as an internal enterprise strategy focusing on internal mobility, re-deployment and re-skilling to create opportunity for employees to take on new roles, projects and tasks and for business and HR managers to access internal talent in new ways.
Advantages For Employers
According to Jeremy Walsh, executive vice president of corporate partnerships at AllCampus, quiet hiring addresses the company’s need of filling a position, often part-time or with consultants, without hiring from outside the organization. Quiet hiring poses an opportunity for organizations to prove they are invested in their employee’s professional development and support them along the way. In order for quiet hiring to truly be successful, an organization must embrace employee curiosity and explore what opportunities are most aligned with employee goals while optimizing talent for the best business results.”
Kraig Eaton, a principal with Deloitte Consulting, underscores the quiet hiring advantages. “We are beginning to see more organizations experiment with using skills, not jobs, when looking to fill open positions. A total of 81% of executives surveyed in our 2023 Global Human Capital Trends survey said work is increasingly performed across functional boundaries,” Eaton adds. “Quiet hiring and other forms of skills-based workforce management allow workers to be deployed more effectively, removes the need for job postings and circumvents the cost of a lengthy recruitment process. A skills-based approach also helps promote diversity and equity in the workplace, as evidenced by the 75% of executives in our skills-based organization survey who said hiring, promoting and deploying people based on skills can help improve access to opportunities.”
Through an email, Schwartz told me that companies are facing multiple challenges around economic uncertainty and the need for continued growth and innovation, so they are currently limiting hiring and cutting staff while still finding they are facing critical talent and skill shortages. These challenges, he observes, have given rise to quiet hiring and will play a large role in 2023.
“In a sense, quiet hiring uncovers the opportunity to move beyond static jobs and standard recruiting as the way we deploy talent and the shift to a focus on how work can be done in projects, teams and gigs,” Schwartz continues, adding that, “It also recognizes that the potential of our current employees is far more than their current jobs and job descriptions suggest. Quiet hiring involves focusing on how we can tap the potential of our current workforce by re-imagining work beyond standardized jobs to team projects as well as tasks and gigs. 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. Maybe we shouldn’t be so quiet about this massive opportunity after all.”
Emily Rose McRae, senior director in the Gartner HR practice told me that one of Gartner’s predictions is that over the next year quiet hiring will create new avenues to snag in-demand talent. “Progressive HR leaders will turn to quiet hiring to acquire new skills and capabilities without acquiring new full-time employees,” she explained. “They will deploy current employees to the highest priorities, which may necessitate re-skilling and stretch assignments. Leaders will also emphasize up-skilling to fulfill employees’ career aspirations while meeting organizational needs. Despite worries about a forthcoming recession and some layoff announcements, Gartner’s bench-marking data shows that a majority of HR leaders still expect the labor market to get more competitive.”
Risks For Employees
Dr. Greg Barnett, chief people scientist at Top Workplaces, explains that the idea of moving talent from one role to another is seen as a positive developmental experience whereby a new employee is asked to take on bigger challenges, gains valuable career experience and often ends up being promoted or compensated in the long run. “With the changing nature of work, the practice of re-skilling and re-deploying employees is a necessity and that learning process often starts by getting employees to take on responsibilities so that they can overcome talent and skill gaps.”
But some don’t see it as an opportunity, according to Ian Cook, vice president of people analytics at Visier. He acknowledges risks associated with adding new tasks to an employee’s workload. “If the ‘temporary’ addition of new tasks is an expansion of the role, then employees should ask for clear expectations around the duration of those responsibilities and what happens if the new duties become permanent,” he told me in an email. “There is also risk for employees if it slowly creeps them into a new role that they do not want or were not planning for. Employers should have a clear plan, not just a wait-and-see attitude or it could lead to legal ramifications for the employer and the employee.”
Jenn Lim, CEO of Delivering Happiness and author of Beyond Happiness, offers three ways employees can navigate the trend:
- Get clarity. No one wants to feel pulled in 20 different directions. Get clarification on what this new role will look like, as well as what, if any, responsibilities you will carry over from your current position. Stretching yourself too thin and keeping too many plates spinning will land you in burnout frustration mode.
- Look for a ripple of impact. Spend your precious and limited time in meaningful ways. When you can answer for yourself how your purpose and values align with your new role, then you can be more confident that your contribution can create a greater ripple to your teams, organization and community.
- Seek control, progress and connectedness. These are the three levers of scientific happiness. Uncertain times are ahead of us so if quiet hiring is in your future, consider what you can control beyond how you allocate your time — think about your beliefs, purpose, values and ability to adapt. Mark your progress through achievable goals, celebrating milestones and progress (not perfection), which will provide a sense of accomplishment and lead to more sustainable happiness. Lastly, seek out ways to connect on a deeper level with your team and re-frame how meaningful workplace relationships can be built.
Yvonne Bell, senior vice president of people and culture at D2L, believes that although quiet hiring can have a negative undertone, it can empower employees if managed properly. “Organizations that cannot offer continuous growth and development opportunities risk seeing employees leave. Quiet hiring could be a way to keep employees engaged and growing in their careers,” she observes. “In addition, quiet hiring can help contribute to internal mobility and re-engage employees who may otherwise look to move on. It also allows employees to up-skill and helps increase the overall capacity of organizations without needing to hire new roles.”
Walsh stresses that companies are interested in employees who are motivated and encourages them to step forward. “It’s also crucial for employees to identify any transferable skills they have and then work with leaders to guide them in the right direction. During this process, employees might find that their employers don’t have these types of opportunities, and that lets employees know that they’re going to have to search for an outside alternative.”