Experts Say Quiet Hiring, Not Quiet Quitting, Will Drive Workplaces in 2023
"Quiet quitting" was all anyone could talk about in 2022. Everywhere you turned, you saw memes, blog posts, and articles from major outlets about the subject. But trends change quickly these days.
Expert researchers at Gardner predict that a new "quiet" will be one of the top workforce trends in 2023 - Quiet Hiring.
But what exactly is quiet hiring, who does it affect, and what will this mean for the future of work? Let's dig in and take a look at this new trend that could be affecting many of us in the coming year.
What is Quiet Hiring
Emily Rose McRae, Sr. Director of Research at Gartner, defines quiet hiring as
"...when an organization acquires new skills without actually hiring new full-time employees."
While the term is sometimes used in conjunction with hiring short-term contractors, it's most commonly used when a company gives or shifts a current employee's responsibilities beyond their standard job description.
Basically, it's asking an employee to take on a new role or responsibility within the company to fill a need instead of looking for an outside hire. Sometimes these shifts are temporary, say three months, but they can also end up being permanent replacements.
Why is Quiet Hiring Occurring More Often Now?
Filling in positions within a company using existing employees isn't exactly a new thing. After all, many companies will often look internally before hiring someone externally.
However, the recent economic downturn has caused a competitive hiring landscape, so companies are ramping up this practice. Because companies are unsure about the economy's stability and their future, they're looking for ways to fill needs without taking on extra staffing and expense.
Also, top talents with in-demand skills are increasingly more difficult to find. So, companies are being forced to get creative with how they fill various positions.
How Does it Benefit Companies?
Quiet hiring has some obvious advantages, allowing companies to:
- Avoid lengthy recruitment processes when they look internally to fill positions
- Be more agile and respond to business needs as they arise and move employees off as required without worrying about redundancies
- Retain employees who are looking for opportunities to grow or challenge themselves with new responsibilities or upskill in other areas of the business
- Decrease burnout from employees who have been in one position for too long
- Recognize top performers and reward their work or personal development with expanded roles and responsibilities
The trick is to be transparent with the need and communicate honestly with employees. Instead of seeming to pile on extra work responsibilities, you need to frame it as an opportunity to grow, learn new skills, and add valuable experience to their resume. You also want to be sure to compensate them adequately for any extra work you're asking them to do. A company cannot get away with asking a lower-level employee to do management-level work for the same pay.
Used responsibly, quiet hiring can be a valuable asset to companies, allowing them to save time, money, and resources.
But Does it Benefit Employees?
Many think that quiet hiring is something that only benefits a company. But, when viewed with the right mindset, it can also help employees.
Some employees love challenging themselves and learning new things at work. Quiet hiring can allow these workers to test out roles or responsibilities without the added weight and pressure of a full-time job shift.
Say someone has been showing great promise in a position. Quiet hiring can allow them to dip their toes into the next level, but with the option to return to their previous role if they don't enjoy the fit. Many have successfully used quiet hiring as a way to justify a promotion. It's also a fantastic time to have conversations about your long-term future with a company.
Tips to Ensure Quiet Hires Go Smoothly
No employee enjoys feeling taken advantage of. Mishandled, quiet hiring can make workers feel like their old roles weren't crucial to the company or that they are at risk if they don't accept the offer to take on more responsibilities. But suppose a company is transparent and open about why they are asking employees to pivot. In that case, the conversation can increase job satisfaction and even excitement about the possibilities.
The following tips apply if you're a company looking to quietly hire or an employee who's been asked to take on new work.
Set appropriate boundaries Workers only have so much time during the day. Terrible leaders expect zero work-life balance, but successful employers understand that their workers can give their best when they have an appropriate work-life balance. Both sides need to clearly set healthy boundaries around any new work and look to offset some old responsibilities to ensure employees aren't being set up for burnout.
Negotiate compensation No one should expect something for nothing. Even though times are tough, companies cannot expect to add responsibilities or workloads onto their employees without compensating them in some way. Similarly, employees must understand that the need to quietly hire is often due to budgetary concerns. So while they might love to be bumped into a new salary grade, that might not be possible at this time for the company. Both parties should be open about what they can and can't do and what's reasonable. Maybe the employee gets more time off, access to an increased educational budget, remote work options, or even company stock.
Clearly define the timelines This one is tricky for companies because they might not know clearly how long the need will be for. But establishing a timeline for when you'll come back to review things shows employees that they won't be asked to work with extra responsibilities indefinitely. It also gives the potential to negotiate or reevaluate the setup after a fixed period of time. It can be formal, like "after 3 months, we'll evaluate whether to make this a permanent move with added benefits" or "let's see if we can scale back your new workload after a month."
The "New Normal" is Still Causing Shifts
Unfortunately, the disruption from Covid shutdowns is still rippling through businesses globally. While most would love a complete return to the way things were before Covid, the reality is that things will still be topsy-turvy for a while.
With experts predicting the "quiet hiring" trend to dominate workforces in 2023, it's best for both employers and employees to embrace the healthy side of this new hiring trend. That means being transparent about the need to do things, clear about how long the shift will take, and open to increased pay or benefits from these new roles.
Employees need to understand companies' delicate position within the current economic climate. But similarly, employers must demonstrate that they know their employees only have so much time and energy in a day and cannot push people to the point of burnout. Rather than wishing for a past that might not return, seeing these new challenges as opportunities to grow is best.
As an employee, seize the chance to try out something new. Who knows where it can take you? For companies, learning to see the extra potential in your employees is something you can always do, but be sure to reward and value that potential appropriately. Then you'll have fulfilled employees that stay with you longer!