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Quiet Hiring: What is it? Can you be doing it unintentionally? And more! – 2024

Quiet Hiring: What does it mean?

Quiet hiring… Doesn’t it feel like we are inventing new HR buzzwords once every two weeks now? Who on earth is coming up with all this stuff, right? Well… Let us clear the air. While there are plenty of terminology in the world of performance management that can quite easily labeled redundant, quiet hiring isn’t one of them.

The whole discussion surrounding quiet hiring isn’t just a case of someone coming up with a term to piss all those quiet quitting millennials and entitled Gen-z brats off. It is simply another case of a long-running practice that has finally received a name.

While we here at the Teamflect blog were wholeheartedly on the side of quiet quitting on a previous entry, this is an even more nuanced issue, and deciding whether quiet hiring is a positive or a negative thing is just an incredibly tricky and difficult process.

So… Let’s do just that! In this post, we will be answering the following questions:

  • What is quiet hiring?
  • Why is quiet hiring trending?
  • Are there any benefits to quiet hiring?
  • How to identify if you are unintentionally quiet hiring.
  • How to avoid quiet hiring.

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What is quiet hiring?

It is when an organization leverages current employees’ capabilities to acquire new skills without recruiting new full-time staff. There are a number of reasons why organizations might choose to quiet hire, such as to save money, increase productivity, or fill skills gaps.

While quiet hiring can have some benefits for organizations, it is important to be aware of the potential drawbacks. It can very easily lead to employee burnout, stress, and dissatisfaction. It can also create a culture of overwork and unrealistic expectations.

Benefits of quiet hiring

Are there any benefits to quiet hiring?

We’ve gone over plenty of different HR trends and HR initiatives on this blog and this is definitely one of the very few that can cut both ways. It is seldom that an HR trend can be as beneficial as it is destructive. So let’s start analyzing it:

For employers, it can help to:

  • Save money on recruitment and training costs.
  • Increase productivity by giving employees new challenges and opportunities.
  • Fill skills gaps by giving employees the opportunity to develop new skills.
  • Improve employee engagement by showing employees that they are trusted and valued.

For employees, it can help to:

  • Provide opportunities for professional development and career growth.
  • Increase job satisfaction by giving employees new challenges and responsibilities.
  • See if they are ready for a promotion and the additional responsibilities that come with it.
  • Gain new sets of skills that come with the additional set of responsibilities.

However, as you might have guessed, giving your employees responsibilities outside of their job descriptions isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Which brings us to our next part:

Is there anything more “hustle culture” than giving people more work than they bargained for, and then pretending it’s a blessing? The amount of responsibility your employees already have is there for a reason.

After all, you did go through a long and meticulous recruiting process, followed up with an even longer onboarding process all to establish those responsibilities. So why are the rules of the game-changing now? Are we trying to promote employee disengagement?

Some of the negative impacts of quiet hiring include:

Employee burnout and dissatisfaction: When employees are overloaded with work without additional compensation or recognition, it can lead to burnout and dissatisfaction.

Burnout can manifest in a number of ways, including physical and emotional exhaustion, decreased productivity, and increased absenteeism.

Reduced diversity and inclusion: Quiet hiring can also lead to reduced diversity and inclusion in the workplace. When employers are not hiring new employees, they are less likely to hire candidates from underrepresented groups. 

High employee turnover rates: This is more of an end result of the previous two entries. Dissatisfaction and burnout, followed by a lack of diversity, can all lead to a revolving door situation with your employees.

How to identify if you are unintentionally quiet hiring

You know how they always say “If you have to ask about it then you probably don’t have it.” about certain illnesses, right? That right there is definitely NOT the case with quiet hiring. Performance management as a discipline is always evolving.

As the discussions around employee engagement, toxic workplaces, and remote team management continue, we keep learning that some of the practices that we’ve been taking for granted may not have been the best of ideas!

  • Are you giving your employees more and more work without additional compensation or recognition? This is a classic sign of quiet hiring, and it can lead to employee burnout and dissatisfaction.
  • Are you not hiring for new positions, even though your workload is increasing? This could be a sign that you’re trying to save money by making your existing employees do more with less.
  • Are you asking your employees to take on new responsibilities without providing them with the necessary training or resources? This is another sign of quiet hiring, and it can set your employees up for failure.

Here are some additional signs that you may be unintentionally quiet hiring:

  • You’re regularly asking your employees to work overtime or on weekends without additional compensation.
  • You’re giving your employees new projects or responsibilities without giving them a deadline or budget.
  • You’re not providing your employees with the opportunities for professional development and career growth that they need.
  • You’re not creating a culture of work-life balance, and your employees are feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

What are some useful quiet hiring practices?

As we’ve established, quiet hiring is not one of those HR practices that are all positive or all negative. Covering it isn’t as easy as just telling you to start building cross-functional teams or giving you a batch of performance review comments to choose from.

When you have a practice that cuts both ways, it is imperative to ensure that it is being practiced the correct way. Quiet Hiring is not a one-size-fits-all strategy; rather, it encompasses a range of practices that organizations tailor to their specific needs. These practices include:

1. Training and Upskilling Existing Employees:

Quiet Hiring often involves investing in the development of current staff members to equip them with the skills required for new roles or added responsibilities. This not only addresses skill gaps but also fosters a culture of continuous learning.

Some of the tools you can use while training and upskilling your employees can include:

For those organizations working remotely, coaching and mentoring can be a bit of an issue, so here is a helpful video showing you just how you can use Microsoft Teams as an employee mentoring platform.

2. Internal Promotions:

Rather than seeking external candidates, organizations may opt to promote employees from within. This not only recognizes and rewards existing talent but also encourages a sense of loyalty and commitment.

One of the biggest problems and in fact the central problem with the definition of quiet hiring, is that it can be boiled down to asking your employees to do some work that they aren’t being paid to do. Scopes exist for a reason.

So… Why not expand that scope? Proper internal promotion can be the best way to mitigate the burnout that can accompany the extra set of responsibilities.

3. Hiring Contractors or Freelancers:

If there was ever a cop-out, this is it. While it isn’t what people think of when they mention quiet hiring, it still technically fits the quiet hiring meaning of “Having tasks completed without recruiting someone.”. Besides, the freelance talent pool right now? It is incredibly deep, and filled to the brim with incredibly skilled individuals!

To fulfill specific projects or tasks without committing to long-term employment, organizations engage contractors or freelancers. While managing freelancers is a challenge in and of itself, it still provides flexibility and allows companies to tap into specialized skills as needed.

4. Employee Redeployment:

If there are additional responsibilities in a department that have to be taken on by someone and you’re keen on not recruiting an external hire, don’t just pile them all onto any individual you find in that department. Remember! Your options aren’t that limited!

In response to shifting business needs, you may instead opt to redeploy personnel from one department or team to another. After all, mobility within your organization is always a sign of strong management.

Quiet Quitting vs Quiet Hiring

The term quiet hiring does bring to mind a certain other quiet practice that gained some real traction in 2022. It is pretty evocative. That being said, we wanted to weigh in on this issue and just let you know that not everything has to be a conflict!

While some voices have proclaimed in clickbait post titles that quiet hiring is the so-called “Employer response” to quiet quitting. The two concepts are linked only by name alone. Although, it is possible for quiet hiring to be one of the quintessential causes of quiet quitting.

Written by Emre Ok

Emre is a content writer at Teamflect who aims to share fun and unique insight into the world of performance management.

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