Quiet hiring is a hiring/labor trend that has emerged in 2023 and will likely be one of the most important trends seen this year. Hiring trends have changed so often in the recent past that business owners have barely had time to fully understand these trends and properly address them. “The Great Resignation” and “Quiet Quitting” are all but an afterthought as business owners look for ways to innovate and address talent needs, and hiring has begun to slow down. Widespread layoffs have been seen across the market, particularly in media and technology, but there are still critical roles that have not been filled and not necessarily a lot of available people to fill them.
Quiet hiring may be interpreted as hiring workers on short-term contracts to help businesses meet their financial and strategic goals, but that is only a very minimal component. A broader definition of quiet hiring is utilizing your current staff and reassigning employees from different areas to address critical needs. Quiet hiring relates to leadership evaluating the talent within their organization and where there are needs and vacancies, and finding innovative ways to fill those gaps. To illustrate quiet hiring, take this extreme example from Australian airline Qantas, who were trying to address a labor shortage in baggage handling, and as a result, asked staff from the head office, including executives, to temporarily step in during peak times. With the additional
resources from “quiet hiring,” the company addressed passenger complaints of misplaced luggage, luggage backlogs, and poor service in general. As business owners attempt to address all of the current challenges, quiet hiring is something that all companies should consider, especially those with gaps and vacancies in crucial areas. You don’t have to go as far as asking executives to head to the shop floor, but there are various ways to help your company embrace quiet hiring as a solution to staffing issues, and there is a right way to approach the strategy as it applies to your employees.
With a limited amount of talent within your organization, decisions need to be made as to where you can best apply that talent. Knowing how hard it has been to find talent for open roles and how long the process can take once talent is identified, reshuffling talent may be the answer to filling gaps and meeting performance goals, even if only in the short term.
Employees, especially younger ones, place high importance on feeling appreciated, empowered, and valued, and they want transparency from their employer. Evidence from the 2022 Deloitte Global Gen Z and Millennial Survey shows “nearly 70% of both Gen Z and Millennials are likely to stay at a job more than 5 years if they feel empowered.”
For quiet hiring to be successful, leadership must make a point to use clear and honest communication when vocalizing a quiet hiring move. Open communication may be the most vital component of quiet hiring; let your employees know what decision is being made and why. The move is more likely to receive a positive reaction if it’s done properly.
Emphasizing the value proposition for displaced employees that have been moved around in a reshuffling is also extremely important. When communicating the change to these employees, it should be explicitly clear that the move is being made because “their work is valued, we think you would be a good fit, and we value you enough as an employee to ask you to do this.” Employees want to feel like they are actually part of something bigger, not just for optics.
In some situations, quiet hiring may require development and education to sharpen the skills required to successfully complete a quiet hire. According to the respondents of the UHY 2023
Middle Market Survey of middle market business owners, “upskilling the workforce was the second highest area of employee investment for 19% of respondents,” second only to recruiting
and attracting talent.
Upskilling will demonstrate an investment in your employees, reassuring and building trust while also helping your company to address a vacancy.
Quiet hiring is something that could be met with resistance and is an opportunity to demonstrate the value you attribute to a certain employee. One option is a bonus for employees who are reassigned or a temporary wage increase. Beyond increased compensation, you may be able to offer your employee more flexibility than they would have had in a different role.
All of these perks can help the employee be more open to the change and could create a sense of gratitude that improves the overall relationship between employee and employer.
Further data from the 2023 Middle Market Survey labeled “retaining talent/attrition and skill level of the workforce as the top workforce challenges for middle-market business owners going into
2023”. Quiet hiring not only addresses the talent issue but could also enhance the skill level of current employees.
Hiring typically slows down in times of recession, and we even see widespread job loss; analysts predict that the impending recession, whenever it happens, will be slightly different. Companies are holding onto their employees despite the drop in demand due to how difficult it has been to find talent over the past two years.
“Quiet quitting is very similar to internal mobility programs that have been around forever,” said Amy Gallagher, Managing Director of UHY Consulting. “Leadership encourages their recruiting teams to consider internal hiring and looks to management to help employees develop a career path within their company, helping to steer them in a direction that creates a meaningful career and helps move the company forward.”
If companies are holding onto their employees, quiet hiring may be the key to reallocating human capital to meet financial and strategic goals and weather the economic storm.