Quiet hiring is the word on the lips of every recruiter out there now (making it perhaps the worst-kept secret in HR). Chances are it’s already graced your Google News feed.
But whether you’re pondering it from behind the employer’s desk or worried about what it might mean for your to-do list as an employee, this guide is here to speed you through the fundamentals of this viral recruitment trend.
What is quiet hiring?
Quiet hiring is the strategy of an organization gaining new skills without expanding its full-time workforce.
This can be by hiring temporary contract workers to carry out specific functions, but it’s normally achieved by giving new roles to existing employees, either by upskilling them or assigning them extra responsibilities.
For example, a small digital marketing agency realizes it needs to expand its services to include SEO and paid advertising. The agency doesn’t have the resources to hire new full-time employees. So instead, it provides its social media managers with training in SEO and paid advertising and compensates them for their expanded roles by increasing their PTO.
By investing in the development of its existing employees, the agency is able to broaden its service offerings and take on new challenges.
Quiet hiring in action
In case you’re wondering, yes — there’s more to quiet hiring than just giving extra jobs to your current employees.
Similar to other task delegation strategies, like workload management process, quiet hiring begins with comparing your organization’s needs with the talent you have available internally.
Review the skills that your employees already have and explore how they relate to the skill gaps you’re trying to address. Taking this approach allows you to identify employees that will be easier to train because they’re already familiar with your problem area, meaning they can be trained quicker and are less likely to suffer from burnout.
For example, a company that needs to expand its PR would have much more success reallocating talent from its social media team than if it attempted to retrain a HR employee.
Identifying people with adjacent skill sets also allows you to round out their expertise and groom them for future management positions. Because you’re investing in their professional development and providing growth opportunities, they’re more likely to stay with you long term (provided that you’re not overworking them that is).
Benefits of quiet hiring to employers
When applied effectively, quiet hiring offers several short and long term benefits to cash-strapped companies:
1. Reduced expenses
One of the most obvious benefits of upskilling your existing workforce or taking on temporary contract workers is that both tactics are considerably cheaper than hiring additional full-time staff.
New employees mean additional salaries on your payroll and all the incumbent expenses that come with them like health and labor insurance — not to mention that cost of onboarding and training your new staff.
While upskilling and compensating your existing employees shouldn’t be free (they need to feel like they’re benefiting from the quiet hire after all), it’s considerably cheaper than bankrolling an additional employee.
2. Greater flexibility
Recognizing that your employee’s expertise isn’t limited to their current job description better positions you to deal with your organization’s evolving needs.
Unlike new full-time hires, existing employees with adjacent skill-sets already understand your company’s culture, needs, processes, and goals. As a result, they’re able to step in and tackle any new responsibilities you assign them more efficiently than external hires who would require time to acclimatize.
3. Stay ahead of the competition
Addressing skill gaps by bringing in contract employees can furnish your team with unique and specialized knowledge that you may not have had access to previously. External experts can provide fresh perspectives and insights, enabling existing employees to stay ahead of industry trends and innovations.
Suppose your organization brings in a data analyst to help develop a new AI-powered customer support service.
By integrating them into your team for the duration of the project, you create a valuable learning opportunity for your in-house staff, who benefit from the analyst’s industry experience. For example, the analyst hire might bring call center analytics skills to your team, familiarizing your full-time employees with the process of collecting and analyzing call center data to improve customer experience, agent performance, customer service, and operational efficiency. Another example, a tech leader can bring additional value to the project addressing IT staff-augmentation service to use senior contract engineers and teach in-house juniors a few coding tips&tricks.
At the end of their contracted term, the data analyst has helped you improve your customer service offerings, and upskilled your staff in the future. You’ve just improved your services and deepened your talent pool without having to commit financially to an additional full-time hire.
Quiet hiring tips for employees
For quiet hiring to be effective, it needs to work for both managers and employees. If you find yourself being asked to take on a stretch responsibility, there are a couple of steps you can take to ensure quiet hiring is a positive for your career, and not just more work on your desk.
1. Set clear expectations
Whether you’re taking on additional responsibilities or moving into an adjacent role, it’s important to talk to your manager and make sure you’re getting the support that you need.
If you’re traversing to an adjacent role, what training will your employer provide and what support will you get along the way? If the role is a new one for your organization, be sure to set out clear SOPs with management so you don’t just find yourself left to wing things alone.
Taking on additional responsibilities? Then you deserve some kind of compensation. If your company can’t bump your salary, they should at least be able to offer you additional benefits, such as remote work flexibility or more PTO.
2. Adopt a growth mindset
If you’re presented with an upskilling opportunity or stretch responsibilities, it’s important to remember that these are learning opportunities that you can leverage to advance in both the company you work at and your general career.
A growth mindset is the belief that your knowledge, talents, and abilities can be developed and improved through hard work and the right learning strategies. Benefits of having a growth mindset include greater resilience to setbacks and enhanced motivation through a love of learning.
Maximize the learning potential of your new responsibilities by setting metrics to track your progress as you familiarize yourself with your new tasks. For example, if you’re taking on a new sales role, you could track your sales conversion rate (the percentage of your leads that become paying customers).
Monitoring your performance in your new role will help you identify what works, as well as give you a sense of what you can realistically achieve without burning yourself out.