Hiring buzzwords are everywhere and have been for a while, the “war for talent” was possibly the most famous and annoying. Over the last 24 months new buzzwords like “quiet quitting” and “quiet firing” have gained headlines, a new entrant has joined the list in 2023- “quiet hiring”. 

Recently earmarked by Gartner as a top workforce trend for 2023, quiet hiring has been raising many eyebrows and many dismissed as just another buzzword. As a former Gartner employee I know how much research goes into these terms so let’s delve deeper into this trend, understand what it signifies, and explore its implications on the future of work.

Quiet hiring, as explained by Emily Rose McRae, Sr. Director of Research at Gartner, is “when an organisation acquires new skills without actually hiring new full-time employees.” This could mean onboarding temporary workers or, more commonly, expanding the responsibilities of existing employees. These added responsibilities could be in the form of new roles or different internal projects.

While quiet hiring might seem like an ingenious solution for organisations, it may not always be met with enthusiasm by employees, particularly those uncomfortable with transitioning into roles they’re not keen on. Let’s examine the reasons behind this burgeoning trend and its implications for both employers and employees.

Why is Quiet Hiring on the Rise?

The contemporary corporate landscape, characterised by a fiercely competitive hiring scenario and economic downturn, combined with the pressure to cut costs, has made talent acquisition and retention challenging. The scenario worsens with stagnant or shrinking staffing budgets. This is where organisations are resorting to creative solutions, such as quiet hiring, to address the talent crisis.

The Employer Perspective: Benefits of Quiet Hiring

Quiet hiring presents several advantages for employers. Primarily, it’s an economical and efficient method to bridge skill gaps without the need to hire additional full-time employees especially at a time when 30% of enterprises have hiring freezes. This enables organisations to leverage their different talent pools rather than engaging in protracted recruitment processes to fulfil immediate requirements. There are three core components of quiet hiring:

Internal mobility refers to the movement of employees within an organisation, either laterally or vertically. This could mean transitioning into different roles, departments, or even geographical locations within the same company. This practice promotes a culture of continuous learning and growth, and it can be a significant contributor to employee engagement and retention.

Internal mobility provides employees with opportunities to broaden their skill sets, experience new challenges, and bring fresh perspectives to different parts of the organisation. For employers, it can be a more efficient way to fill vacancies, as it takes advantage of the existing talent pool, reduces recruitment costs, and decreases the risk associated with hiring external candidates. 

At Gigged.AI we created our Internal Talent Marketplace in 2020 as a pilot for a leading university and has now grown into an enterprise solution. Internal Talent Marketplaces are the easiest ways to implement internal mobility quickly.

Upskilling and reskilling are strategies used by organisations to develop their workforce to meet changing business needs. Upskilling refers to enhancing an employee’s current skills, allowing them to excel in their existing roles. For example, an employee might learn a new software that improves their productivity.

Reskilling, on the other hand, involves training employees in entirely new areas to prepare them for different roles. This is often done when a role becomes redundant or when the organisation foresees a need for new skills in the future. For example, an organisation might reskill its manual testers to become automation testers as part of a digital transformation initiative.

These practices not only help to keep skills fresh and relevant but also contribute to employee engagement and loyalty. They demonstrate an employer’s commitment to its employees’ career development, and they can be a powerful tool for talent attraction and retention.

Contingent Hiring:

Contingent hiring refers to the practice of hiring workers on a non-permanent basis. These workers, often referred to as contingent workers, may include freelancers, consultants, temporary workers, or independent contractors. They are typically hired for a specific project or for a fixed period of time. Gigged.AI is an example of a project-driven marketplace where Upwork would be an example of a fixed period marketplace.

Contingent hiring provides organisations with a great deal of flexibility. It allows companies to scale their workforce up and down according to business needs, and to bring in specific expertise that might not be required on a permanent basis. For workers, contingent roles can offer the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, develop a wide range of skills, and enjoy greater flexibility and autonomy.

However, contingent hiring also comes with challenges. These may include issues around worker rights and benefits, the integration of contingent workers into the organisation’s culture and processes, and the management of a more fluid and diverse workforce. Working with an agency or platform that has strong vetting and regulation partners is key.

Quiet hiring also brings with it flexibility, allowing for quick resource allocation to high-priority business areas. Furthermore, upskilling employees can lead to increased retention, engagement, and productivity. A case in point is Google, which capitalises on quiet hiring to recognise and reward employees demonstrating exceptional performance. And when in-house talent is lacking, employers experiment with alternatives such as hiring contract and gig workers. Overall, quiet hiring saves companies valuable time, money, and resources.

The Employee’s View: Making Quiet Hiring Work for You

Although quiet hiring may seem primarily employer-centric, it also has potential benefits for employees. If you’re assigned a stretch assignment or a new role, ensure you set clear expectations. Overloading yourself can result in burnout, something you must steer clear of.

Teaming up with your manager to establish success metrics is crucial. This helps document your performance and provides leverage when you’re handed additional responsibilities, as it’s fair to expect a pay increase. If a salary hike is not an option, negotiate for other benefits such as bonuses, flexible working hours, or extra time off. And don’t forget to equip yourself with the necessary training and support.

A significant advantage of undertaking new tasks is the opportunity to broaden your skillset, making you a more versatile, valuable employee. It also opens doors to networking with colleagues across different business areas, and even experimenting with roles in departments you’ve been considering. If you excel in a new role that’s a level up, this could serve as a powerful negotiating tool for future promotions.

In conclusion, quiet hiring is more than just a trend—it’s a testament to the evolving dynamics of the world of work. As we embrace this new normal, it’s vital to stay informed, adaptable, and open to the opportunities it presents.

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