Why is everything seemingly about doing things quietly these days? We seem to have moved on in 2023 from "Quiet Quitting" to "Quiet Firing" and now to "Quiet Hiring"… The silence is deafening.....
But what’s the story about Quiet Hiring? Is it a good or bad thing? Is it a new thing, or just a trendy badge for something that’s always been there?
Quiet Hiring, for those unfamiliar, is the practice of assigning additional tasks and responsibilities to current employees, rather than hiring new staff. This approach has grown in popularity in recent times, particularly in 2023 with today’s economic uncertainties as businesses look for ways to optimise their workforce and minimise costs.
On one hand, Quiet Hiring can offer significant benefits for employers. By leveraging the existing workforce, companies can avoid the costs associated with recruiting, onboarding, and training new hires. It can help to create more agile and adaptable teams, as employees become familiar with a broader range of tasks and responsibilities.
Rebecca Knight, correspondent on all things HR and Talent said "Quiet Hiring can be an excellent way for companies to maximise the potential of their existing workforce. By doing so, they can unlock hidden talents within their team and foster a sense of ownership and commitment among employees."
However, quiet hiring is not without its drawbacks. As employees take on additional tasks, there is a risk of skill gaps emerging within the organisation - because not every skill is easily developed. Companies may find that employees lack the necessary expertise or resources to perform their new responsibilities effectively, resulting in a decrease in overall productivity and efficiency.
Lou Adler emphasises the importance of addressing these skill gaps: "While quiet hiring can be a cost-effective solution, organisations must be careful not to stretch their employees too thin. Investing in training and development can help ensure that employees have the skills they need to succeed in their expanded roles."
For employees, quiet hiring can provide opportunities for personal and professional growth. Taking on additional tasks allows employees to develop new skills, expand their knowledge, and gain a deeper understanding of the business. This can lead to increased engagement and a stronger sense of loyalty to the company. Easy access to developmental or career mobility opportunities is key here, as well as a culture that supports that more entrepreneurial approach to talent mobility.
On the other hand, quiet hiring can also be tough for employees if it’s not managed well or is implemented poorly. Additional workload and responsibilities can obviously lead to increased stress and burnout, affecting work-life balance and overall job satisfaction. This, in turn, can create low morale and a loss of trust in the company and its leaders. If people feel they are doing multiple jobs for no extra recognition or reward and can see that much needed heads aren’t being recruited, well forget “quiet quitting”, very vocal quitting might become the norm….
Matt Alder, host of the Recruitment Future podcast puts it this way: "Quiet hiring can lead to a decrease in employee morale and engagement. When organisations continually increase the workload without adjusting compensation or providing adequate support, employees may feel overworked and underappreciated."
Quiet Hiring is definitely a double-edged sword. Organisations really do need to strike a balance between maximising the value of their existing workforce whilst ensuring employee well-being and engagement remain a priority. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out over the course of this year and which organisations are able to find that balance.
For me, quiet hiring is not inherently good or bad. It is merely a tool, and like any tool, it can be used for better or worse. The key lies in understanding its strengths and weaknesses and utilising it responsibly to achieve desired results. Simply taking a "sink-or-swim" approach is clearly significantly more risky than understanding skills and skills adjacency and then having a framework to support employees in their stretch opportunities....
And is it a new trend? Obviously not. Any organisations looking to retain and develop their people, whilst complimenting overall capability by hiring great talent have been doing this for a long, long time. But will this approach get pushed too far in these uncertain times, will the needle move to too far to the right? Only time will tell, but then who really wants to live a quiet life…..?