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What is ‘quiet hiring’ — and how can you benefit from it?

Quiet hiring is when employers acquire new skills without taking on more employees — typically by stretching existing employees' workloads.
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Posted at 3:58 PM, Jan 18, 2023

You may have heard about “quiet quitting” — a phenomenon in which employees unobtrusively check out of their jobs by deciding to do the bare minimum. From the employer’s point of view, this type of attitude robs a company of that individual’s skills and enthusiasm without reducing headcount.

Now there’s a new workforce trend that’s quite the opposite. It’s called “quiet hiring,” although technically, it’s not new — it’s just being given a rebrand. This is where a company acquires new skills and capabilities without taking on any new full-time employees, either by stretching existing employees’ workloads, moving them from one department to another or hiring contract or gig workers.

What Is Quiet Hiring?

Quiet hiring is gaining prominence because experts fear that a recession is coming. That means companies want to spend less money hiring employees as they contemplate weaker bottom lines — but they still need vital roles to be filled so their companies don’t crumble.

Within a volatile economic climate, quiet hiring allows employers to sift through their already existing talent pool and tap employees to take on additional tasks. This can help resolve problems on the spot.

While quiet quitting stems from employees making the call, quiet hiring decisions trickle down from the top. The strategy helps employers remedy pressing needs without taking on more risk, such as a new employee not working out, and eliminates the delay and expense of finding additional full-time hires.

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However, employers should proceed with caution — and employees should be alert. If done as a response to quiet quitting and not implemented in a benevolent way, quiet hiring can make employees feel unappreciated. Although quiet hiring can offer employees advantages in terms of interoffice mobility, the process can also be used to get more work out of current employees without extra pay as an alternative to filling needed roles.

Still, this type of policy can be good for both companies and employees, if it’s done right.

“It can make companies more agile and ready to take on change,” Jennifer Kraszewski, VP of human resources at Paycom, told “When redeploying current team members to meet new business needs, companies can save resources they would otherwise be spending on training and onboarding new staff. And when reassigning teams, strong HR technology can help prepare all those affected for the change.”

Quiet hiring looks different at different companies. At Google, for example, quiet hiring consists of singling out employees that go above and beyond with raises and promotions. These workers get more responsibility and may eventually be recruited into new positions.

Types Of Quiet Hiring

Gartner research expert Emily Rose McRae told CNBC that quiet hiring comes in two different forms — internal and external.

External quiet hiring happens when short-term contractors are brought on to keep the business running without increasing the full-time employee headcount.

Internal quiet hiring occurs when current employees temporarily transition to other roles or assignments within the company. This doesn’t necessarily mean the positions filled by current employees aren’t needed. Such reassignments might simply mean that certain roles are now a top priority for the company. For example, the company may need to address a pressing problem caused by circumstances out of its control.

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McRae cited an example of internal quiet hiring from last year, when Australian airline Qantas asked around 100 executives and managers to rotate in as baggage handlers at Sydney and Melbourne airports for three months.

A company memo asked corporate volunteers to commit to “at least 12 to 18 hours over three shifts per week” to cover their shortage of baggage handlers, the Washington Post reported. Staff members who accepted the temporary assignment needed to be physically capable of moving and lifting bags up to 71 pounds. Executives were placed in positions in which they sorted or scanned bags, moved them from belt loaders onto aircraft and drove vehicles from aircraft to terminals.

Not only did this immediately remedy a worker shortage, but as McRae noted, it also gave executives a greater understanding of how their on-ground operations worked.

How To Benefit From Quiet Hiring

As an employee, there are a few ways to leverage quiet hiring to your advantage. First, think about what you need to succeed in your career.  If a restructuring is taking place, it offers a good opportunity to determine what kind of new position would work better for you in the long run and then ask for what you want.

If you’ve been approached by your employer to change your role — either temporarily or permanently — be sure to ask questions and gather more information. Get a clear understanding of what the new role entails, what responsibilities from your old job will carry over and what your daily workload will be. Ask whether there will be training or mentoring opportunities available to you, and find out exactly how long this reassignment will last and what you’ll be responsible for handling. Make sure you’re setting yourself up for success, because no one wants to feel like they have to do it all.

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You can use quiet hiring as an opportunity to advance in your career, find out about a position you’d like better or start a dialogue with your employer about your future goals. For example, now is a good time to ask for a promotion. Sit down with your manager and HR team and discuss your concerns, expectations and strengths.

Also, speak up on compensation. Quiet hiring should be an equal exchange. An employee who takes on extra work should be compensated for it via extra pay or PTO — or both. If responsibilities increase, so should your salary. If your boss says there is no budget, ask about one-time spot bonuses, additional vacation days or the ability to work a more flexible schedule.

And, of course, use the new role to increase your experience. Document your successes, network with new people and learn as much as you can so you can make yourself indispensable.

If you’re an employer looking to leverage the benefits of quiet hiring, it all comes down to communication. Employees need to be told why shifting positions is important for the company, and they also need to see that there are advantages to them as well. Done improperly without transparency, quiet hiring may give rise to a feeling among employees that they are not valued.