Quiet hiring. Is it anything like quiet quitting or quiet firing? As Gartner defines it, quiet hiring addresses immediate business needs by assigning existing employees to new roles, expanding their responsibilities, hiring temporary workers to fill the gaps, or any combination of the three.
Quiet hiring can be a great win-win for employers and workers alike, but it can also go horribly wrong and turn workers off. Let’s look at what it is and how it can improve retention.
What Is Quiet Hiring?
“Once an under-the-radar Silicon Valley practice, quiet hiring went viral after consulting firm Gartner listed it on its future of work trends list for 2023,” writes Built In’s Jeff Rumage. “With quiet hiring, companies can shift employees internally to adjust to the evolving needs of the business.”
Gartner’s Emily Rose McRae and Peter Aykens use the term to explain how HR leaders intend to tap into expanded talent without adding new full-time employees. One way they predict this will happen is internal talent mobility or moving staff to serve priorities that matter most without changes in headcount. Another way is offering “stretch assignments” or upskilling existing employees to meet evolving organizational needs.
“For instance,” McRae explains, “if an organization is facing a six-month timeline to hire data scientists, they could choose to redeploy data analysts from marketing and HR to their IT and digital workplace teams. Rather than expect the marketing and HR analysts to be able to perform the same complex statistical programming as data scientists, the organization may focus the data science talent they do have on the complex programming tasks and focus the redeployed marketing and HR analysts on communicating the results of the analysis to stakeholders, helping them make decisions off of the data.”
Finally, McRae and Aykens add, organizations will leverage “alumni networks and gig workers” to flexibly bring in talent only as needed. Research backs up this tactic, showing that companies that have turned to temporary staffing during recessions report increased satisfaction and likelihood to recommend working with a staffing firm during those challenging times.
What’s In It for Top Talent?
Obviously, quiet hiring can benefit employers immensely, particularly during strange economic times when increasing headcount isn’t in the cards. But it can’t just be about piling more work and responsibilities on your top performers. The practice needs to benefit workers as well.
Finding that mutual benefit can be tricky, but it’s certainly attainable. If done right, it can significantly reduce quiet quitting and improve employee satisfaction and retention.
Quiet hiring can give top talent more purpose. Generation after generation, it seems that purpose is increasingly important. Millennials are known for seeking it out: One study shows that meaningful work in an environment that recognizes passion and talent is worth more to Millennials than a giant salary. Gen Z, too, has echoed their desire for meaningful work above all else. It’s been called the cure for quiet quitting.
One of the main ways to give employees purpose and meaning is by challenging them. That’s how internal talent mobility, stretch assignments, and upskilling work within this quiet hiring framework. But these new or temporary assignments must feel essential and both monetarily and professionally rewarding. In other words, clearly communicate what’s in it for them.
It can increase productivity through upskilling and backfilling. Then, use temporary staffing as your support base for quiet hiring. For a roadmap on how to do this, revisit our January 2023 post Using Temporary Staffing to Retain Top Talent. We referenced an IBM study that reveals employees who feel they cannot develop and fulfill their career goals are 12 times more likely to leave their job. Upskilling or promoting these loyal employees while backfilling their previous roles can be a win-win.
“Backfilling is a great solution if money is tight (a poor hire can cost 30% of an employee’s salary),” we point out. “Temporary staffing can also cure overhiring, which is the epidemic affecting large tech companies right now.”
A reputable recruiting and staffing partner with consulting services like The HT Group can help strike a balance by analyzing your workforce and identifying quiet hiring opportunities while helping you successfully backfill positions with temporary, temp-to-hire, or permanent workers.