Last updated: Quiet hiring is trending up as companies brace for downturn

Quiet hiring is trending up as companies brace for downturn


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The pandemic spurred a wave of workplace trends as people took a hard look at their jobs and priorities: The Great Resignation, the Great Regret, and quiet quitting. Now, with a recession looming, quiet hiring is grabbing headlines.

While quiet quitting was about workers asserting themselves by pushing back on the above and beyond mentality, quiet hiring is about companies finding ways to meet their talent needs without expanding their permanent workforce.

The trend is gaining traction in a volatile economy with ongoing inflation and recession fears. Companies are looking to save money while still driving growth and reaching their goals by filling talent gaps.

What is quiet hiring?

Gartner identified quiet hiring as a top trend reshaping the future of work this year, predicting that companies would turn quiet quitting on its head.

Quiet hiring involves a company’s acquisition of new skills and capabilities without adding full-time workers, according to Gartner. Companies do this by shifting internal employees to priority areas or leveraging contractors and freelance workers.

As companies brace for a potential economic downturn, they’re using quiet hiring to address talent gaps that threaten short-term goals and long-term growth.

While some economists now predict more of a “soft landing” in the US, and the International Monetary Fund downplayed the threat of a global recession, but many experts still forecast a downturn.

The latest jobs report from the US Department of Labor shows a strong job market, but other data indicates a hiring slowdown. Some industries such as hospitality are hiring, but other industries — especially technology — are laying off workers.

Workforce shift to upskilling

Quiet hiring represents a shift away from the standard job description towards a skills-based workforce that allows for project, team, or gig assignments across functional areas.

According to Gartner, shifting organizational priorities require talent mobility – the ability to redeploy resources based on immediate need and greatest impact.

Gartner expects companies will implement quiet hiring in a couple ways:

  • Offer upskilling opportunities and stretch projects for existing employees to meet organizational needs
  • Leverage contingent workers for talent or skills when deemed necessary

The timeline of the project or initiative often dictates which quiet hiring approach a company will pursue.

Upskilling is an investment in an existing workforce with the potential for long-term ROI. Contingent workers can fill a competency gap on a short-term basis.

Benefits of quiet hiring for employers

Quiet hiring has clear benefits for businesses as they try to control costs while finding ways to grow and remain competitive:

  1. Reduce headcount and/or slow hiring, while maximizing the efficiency of their existing workforce
  2. Deprioritize resources in one area to reallocate them to higher growth areas of the business
  3. Bypass the need for a job description and reduce recruiting costs

Quiet hiring enables companies to fill a talent need more quickly. For example, finding someone with the right skills for a specific project could take months compared to shifting an internal employee with the skills from another department.

Moreover, upskilling is something companies need to focus on, according to a Korn Ferry report that predicts a talent shortage in the could result in $8.5 trillion in unrealized annual revenue by 2030.

“Governments and organizations must make talent strategy a key priority and take steps now to educate, train, and upskill their existing workforces,” Yannick Binvel, president of Korn Ferry’s Global Industrial Markets practice, said in a prepared statement.

Employee development, growth opportunities

While there are clear employer benefits, how could this quiet quitting trend help employees? Isn’t it just a way to make existing employees do more work instead of hiring more people?

That’s how it seems, but if you look closer, there are actually ways workers can benefit. Branching out into new roles or projects can help boost your career.

  1. Obtain new skills, expand core capabilities, and explore new areas of the business
  2. Increase visibility with leadership, better positioning you for new opportunities
  3. Build negotiating power when applying for a new position or seeking a promotion

The key to making quiet quitting a successful strategy is open communication with employees about corporate priorities and goals. If moves are made without explaining the strategy, a company puts employee morale at risk.

What’s the endgame?

When done properly, quiet hiring can be a win-win for both the employee and employer. Investments in employee growth and promoting from within often lead to higher employee engagement and retention rates.

Companies should be careful not to overload or burn out their workforce or ask employees to shoulder multiple jobs without proper compensation. Balance will be essential to employees as they strive towards the next big trend, quiet thriving.

HR, better.
Employees, happier.
Businesses, healthier.
It’s time to modernize the employee experience.

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