There are a number of ways quiet hiring happens, but the main one is by giving employees more responsibilities. Quiet hiring doesn’t actually involve any hiring at all. It usually takes the form of either stretching the scope of an employee’s role, having them undergo reskilling, or moving them to a different role entirely.
According to Forbes, the quiet hiring trend is a response to current market conditions such as the “competitive hiring landscape, an economic slowdown, and pressure to keep costs down”. Many organizations are faced with static or decreasing recruitment budgets and are therefore forced to “get creative” and turn to quiet hiring to fill gaps.
The quiet hiring trend has several benefits for employers.
The biggest benefit that quiet hiring has for employers is cost-savings. As Forbes explains, quiet hiring “is an efficient, cost-effective way to fill skills gaps without hiring additional full-time workers”. Not having to go through the recruiting process saves both effort and money—not to mention the amount of time it takes for a new employee to be fully onboarded and up to the level of productivity that their role requires.
Additionally, supporting employees’ growth can have benefits as well. Employees who feel their organization values growth and development are more likely to stay long term. Studies show that organizations with strong learning cultures see 30-50% higher employee engagement and retention than those where learning is not a business priority.
Forbes discusses how companies like Google use quiet hiring practices as a way to identify current employees who are already going above and beyond in their roles and give them opportunities to excel further. These employees “are more likely to get raises and promotions” in the future.
Quiet hiring has been going on for a long time, well before it got a trendy name.
There’s a reason it’s called “quiet” hiring—because it’s something that employers are likely doing on the down-low, i.e. with very little communication of intent to the employee. Although it has some money saving potential and can help employees gain skills they may otherwise not have the chance to, the quiet hiring trend does have some downsides.
An optimistic way of viewing quiet hiring is that the organization is focused on internal growth rather than on hiring externally. In many instances, employers will frame this as being a team player or refer to the ‘other duties as assigned’ line commonly found in job descriptions. However, much of the time, quiet hiring is done with the expectation that employees will reskill and take on more work without necessarily receiving proper training, recognition, or compensation.
Because quiet hiring doesn’t always actually mean someone is getting a promotion, it should be a temporary solution to filling skills gaps and not part of the status quo at your organization. Employees that are overworked and underpaid are not likely to stay long, nor are they likely to speak highly of their experience. Consistently filling vacant positions by stretching other employees’ responsibilities is a recipe for creating a toxic work environment.