How Quiet Hiring is Revolutionizing Today’s Talent Acquisition

Last updated Aug 31, 2023
  • Quiet hiring counteracts the recent quiet quitting phenomenon and focuses on acquiring new skills for the workplace without increasing employee headcount.
  • Recruiters and employers may opt to engage freelancers and gig workers or add to the responsibilities of their top-performing employees as a method of quiet hiring.
  • Quiet hiring is cost-effective by reducing expenses associated with hiring, onboarding, and maintaining full-time staff while acquiring the necessary skills.
  • Though deemed “exploitative,” quiet hiring benefits employees with improved skills, growth, and career advancement.
  • When done right, quiet hiring will boost engagement by fostering collaboration, knowledge exchange, and dynamic work environments.

In today’s highly competitive job market, businesses are constantly on the lookout for the best talent.

Organizations are turning to quiet hiring to gain an edge over their competitors as a powerful tool to source top candidates. In fact, quiet hiring has emerged as the top recruitment trend for the year 2023, according to predictions by Gartner.

With a recent survey by Monster revealing that 80% of respondents have been “quiet hired,” it’s clear that this new approach to recruitment is gaining traction. By discreetly scouting for qualified individuals who are not actively seeking employment, employers can secure the most in-demand talent.

In this article, we will dive deeper into the benefits of quiet hiring and provide some tips on how to make the process successful.

Related: Executive Search and Recruitment Trends to Look Out for in 2023 and Beyond

What Is Quiet Hiring?

Quiet hiring is defined as “…when an organization acquires new skills without actually hiring new full-time employees,” by Emily Rose McRae, Senior Director of the Gartner HR Practice. This could involve giving current employees additional responsibilities that go beyond their current job description or engaging temporary workers.

What sets quiet hiring apart is its emphasis on promoting a positive work culture that encourages communication, transparency, and feedback. By offering career growth opportunities, training, development, rewards, and recognition for their achievements, employers hope to boost employee morale, motivation, and satisfaction.

Quiet hiring is the other side of the same coin as quiet quitting, where passionate employees may feel silenced by an imbalanced work-life schedule, limited career options, and low job satisfaction. By embracing quiet hiring, organizations hope to create a more engaged and productive workforce.

This approach to hiring is generally classified into two main categories: internal and external. Internal quiet hiring involves promoting or shifting existing employees into open roles, a process that is relatively easy to learn and execute. 

External quiet hiring, on the other hand, is a more complex process that involves building relationships with external workers, setting clear expectations, timelines, and payment terms, and ensuring that freelancers are available before extending offers.

This approach to hiring complements and supplements traditional hiring methods, allowing employers to fill vacant positions quickly and efficiently, even in cases of quiet quitting. With its benefits becoming ever more apparent, it’s little wonder that quiet hiring is rapidly gaining ground in today’s job market.

Related: Everything You Need to Know about Quiet Quitting

What Are the Reasons for the Rise of Quiet Hiring?

The landscape of hiring has shifted dramatically in recent years. A significant trend that has emerged is the rise of quiet hiring. While the term may seem self-explanatory, it is more than just the opposite of traditional hiring.

Companies are turning to this approach due to various factors at play. One of the primary reasons for quiet hiring is to offset quiet quitting. Nonetheless, apart from counteracting quiet quitting, there are many reasons why quiet hiring emerged.

Economic Downturn and Shortages

Economies across the globe have suffered a downturn in recent years, leading to labor shortages in various sectors. In response, companies are turning to quiet hiring to fulfill sensitive positions, particularly those in high demand. Some small businesses have also embraced this trend as a cost-effective way of maximizing productivity without hiring new personnel during tough economic times.

Decline in Productivity

With the decline of productivity in certain employees, it’s become crucial for employers to take action and find alternative solutions. By outsourcing tasks to more efficient colleagues, companies can ensure there is no negative impact on their productivity levels and, ultimately, their profits. Quiet hiring allows for a discreet and proactive way to tackle this issue without disrupting the workplace atmosphere or causing unnecessary conflicts.

Bridging Skill Gaps

Another reason for the occurrence of quiet hiring is the need to bridge skill gaps within an organization. Instead of seeking external candidates with the necessary skills, companies are turning to their existing workforce. By providing training and development opportunities to current employees, businesses can quickly acquire the skills they need without the costs and uncertainties associated with traditional hiring methods. The result is a win-win situation for both the company and its talented workforce.

Lower Risks in Hiring

The rise of quiet hiring has become a popular trend for many employers who seek to mitigate the risks associated with traditional hiring processes. Despite having well-established recruitment protocols, companies still find themselves struggling to choose the right candidate, hence making the hiring process stressful and time-consuming.

Quiet hiring eliminates the need to vigorously scrutinize potential candidates by leveraging the trust established in current employees. This approach offers companies the added advantage of working with familiar talent, thereby reducing the risks of incompetence that traditional hiring may present. 

By prioritizing trust, companies can prioritize retaining skilled employees, enhancing their productivity, and thereby benefiting from a more efficient and effective workforce.

Quiet Hiring in Action

This strategy involves leveraging existing talent within the organization and creatively redistributing work requirements to current staff members.

There are several ways in which quiet hiring could be seen in the workplace. According to Mark Marone, Ph.D., of Harvard Business Publishing, it can manifest in three ways:

  • Hiring temporary contract workers with sought-after skills to fulfill organizational staffing requirements.
  • Allocating staff to departments or projects that have low staffing levels.
  • Boosting employees’ talents by offering training that lets them expand their value to the organization.

Similarly, Gartner has observed that quiet hiring has manifested in most organizations through the following methods:

  • Prioritizing internal skill mobility allows for the strategic deployment of employees without impacting headcount.
  • Renewed focus on stretch projects, as well as upskilling prospects for current staff.
  • Using different methods for finding and hiring employees, such as tapping into alum connections and hiring freelance workers, to only bring in necessary talent as needed.

Quiet hiring may take place in the workplace without making it evident. It can be challenging to identify when it is happening. However, there are distinct signs to look out for.

One sign of quiet hiring is the company assigning new tasks to an employee and assuring them that they will find a replacement despite not posting a vacancy. 

Another indication is when an employer requests an employee to participate in a skill development program or training workshop, stating that it is an opportunity for career growth. This can be a way of silently investing in the employee’s skills without explicitly offering them a promotion.

Moving an employee to another department for the benefit of a new team is another example of quiet hiring. Employees who successfully take on additional tasks and responsibilities can expect a pay rise, bonuses, flexible working hours, and even a promotion in the future.

The Benefits of Quiet Hiring to Employers

Quiet hiring has significantly impacted businesses of all sizes, which have already begun to adopt it. Below are some of the benefits you can reap when you implement this strategy.

Bridging skill gaps in a cost-effective manner

This approach is not only cost-effective but also has the added benefit of bridging skill gaps within the organization. Rather than allocating funds toward talent marketing, companies invest in employee education or other critical areas.

Additionally, companies may combine multiple open positions into one role, resulting in a more versatile employee who can perform a range of tasks. By reducing office or labor-related costs, quiet hiring allows companies to streamline their operations and maximize their resources.

Development of talent within the company

Companies seeking to nurture their top employees may benefit from implementing a quiet hiring process. By concentrating on the internal talent development, businesses can discover and promote talented and committed workers from within their organization.

Rather than relying solely on external recruitment, many great managers have emerged through training and education programs offered by their employers. This approach can lead to increased productivity, as employees feel empowered with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed within their roles.

Related: Recruit or Promote: How to Choose When Hiring for an Executive Position

Achieving organizational flexibility

Quiet hiring has been hailed as a revolutionary approach to staffing, and its benefits extend far beyond just filling positions. Through this method, employers are being pushed to shift their mindset and embrace flexibility in their organizational structures.

With quiet hiring, companies can no longer rely on traditional recruitment methods to find candidates, giving rise to a need for fresh, innovative solutions to deliver on their commitments to customers and clients. By embracing the challenge of quiet hiring, employers can become more agile and adaptable, making them better equipped to navigate the ever-changing landscape of modern business.

Low rates of attrition

Studies have shown that bringing in new hires from outside the organization can lead to longer adjustment periods and a greater likelihood of leaving due to a lack of alignment with company culture. On the other hand, investing in the development of your current employees can lead to a lower attrition rate, as they’re already familiar with the company’s values and norms.

Additionally, seeing their peers grow within the company can motivate other employees and demonstrate the company’s dedication to growth and development. So, if you want to lower your turnover rate and create a more engaged workforce, it might be time to focus on quiet hiring and internal talent development.

How Quiet Hiring Is Affecting the Job Market

Aside from its effect on business hiring practices, quiet recruiting is also having a significant impact on the entire labor market.

Primarily, quiet hiring saves on recruitment costs without compromising on finding the right candidate. This allows businesses to allocate funds to other areas, such as employee retention initiatives.

Moreover, the trend towards quiet hiring will result in a higher emphasis on retaining current staff. There will be a decrease in the frequency of layoffs or mass firings, which will provide job security for employees.

As companies seek to fulfill immediate business needs, there will be a rise in the use of gig workers, leading to more opportunities for professionals seeking out flexible work.

Furthermore, quiet hiring aids in creating a more knowledgeable workforce, with the majority of workers believing that it helps them learn fresh skills. By reassigning employees to different roles, businesses foster a culture of cross-functional teamwork that will elevate employee morale during an economic downturn when job security is a significant concern.

Tips and Best Practices for Quiet Hiring

There is no denying that hiring can be a tricky process, especially when it comes to finding the right people for your team. This is where quiet hiring comes in, as a way to help you find suitable employees while still maintaining ethical standards.

Of course, it is essential to execute this process correctly to avoid any misunderstandings or exploitation. That’s why we’ve put together some tips and best practices for those considering adopting this approach.

Communication is key

Effective communication is a crucial component in the implementation of quiet hiring techniques. It is essential to explain to your employees why this approach is being used in order to manage risks effectively. By building a trusting relationship with your team through open communication, you can not only increase their value to your company but also their job satisfaction.

When employees feel valued and listened to, they are more likely to be receptive to new opportunities that arise in the company. Ultimately, open communication is an essential aspect of effective quiet hiring, and it helps to ensure that both employers and employees are on the same page when it comes to this crucial process.

Formulate an effective leadership development program

A reliable leadership development program presents an opportunity to enhance the skills and capabilities of frontline leadership. The key to success is to ensure that the program includes ample opportunities for practice and feedback, allowing participants to refine their skills. 

Small-group learning and flexibility are essential to ensuring that everyone involved can succeed.

  • Practice and assessments: Workers need contextual, immersive learning experiences, including individual practice, peer feedback, and contextual relevance, to rapidly develop and apply leadership skills in the workplace.
  • Small-group education: Peer learning is crucial for workers to solidify their understanding, as it enables them to discuss and apply skills to real-life scenarios while also learning from their peers’ experiences.
  • Flexibility: Learning programs should be flexible; delivery of experiences in a modular, adaptable format can accommodate diverse needs; semi-synchronous delivery enables fitting into busy schedules.

It’s essential to offer your team the necessary support and resources they need to excel in their new positions. Encouraging participation in such programs not only benefits the employees, as 63% of staff view quiet hiring as a chance to acquire new skills, but it can also enhance the overall productivity and success of your organization.

Set a hiring plan

When it comes to quiet hiring, having a solid plan in place is vital to success. This plan should not only focus on selecting employees who are capable of handling extra tasks beyond their job duties but also take into consideration the needs and wants of current team members.

It’s essential to foster an environment where employees feel valued and have opportunities to take on additional responsibilities if they desire. By neglecting their needs, companies run the risk of losing top talent and seeing a decline in productivity. Therefore, by making a hiring plan that is mindful of both new and current team members, businesses can set themselves up for long-term success.

Offer perks and benefits

Quiet hiring is considered to be a sensitive issue for many employees, and companies need to take steps to make the process as smooth as possible. One way to do this is by offering perks and benefits that will make the transition easier for the person being hired.

In fact, according to a recent survey, employees are more likely to be open to taking on more duties if they perceive a personal advantage. This could be in the form of a salary raise, but if funds are tight, a one-time bonus could also be a great incentive. Additionally, offering benefits such as PTO and medical benefits can help make the individual feel more valued and supported.

Will Workers Benefit From Quiet Hiring?

Quiet hiring may initially appear to solely benefit employers, but it can also be advantageous for employees. Rather than viewing it as a disadvantageous situation, employees can use it to their advantage by showcasing their skills and pursuing opportunities for growth and development within the company.

By highlighting their capabilities, employees can position themselves for future promotions and consequently improve their job security in the long run. It also allows employers to identify potential strengths within their workforce and fill gaps while navigating through economic uncertainties.

The process of quiet hiring has made workers feel uneasy about the job market. However, there are actions employees can take to ensure that they still benefit from the process. If you are wary about this trend, you can do this too.

Firstly, make sure that you clarify expectations with your employer. This will help you understand what is expected of you and whether you are a good fit for the role.

Secondly, determine success metrics that are relevant to your position. Understanding how your work is measured will help you meet company goals and expectations.

Additionally, it’s important to negotiate your benefits. Take the time to research what your peers are getting, and don’t be afraid to ask for more. Finally, ask for support if you’re unclear about anything. This will help you settle into your new position with confidence.

Can Quiet Hiring Be Used in the Long Run?

As organizations look for ways to build and maintain a strong workforce, quiet hiring is emerging as a powerful strategy. By filling gaps in talent and developing existing employees through this strategy, companies can keep themselves competitive without committing to full positions or worrying about talent retention.

The benefits of this approach are many: higher retention rates, a more skilled workforce, and lower payroll costs. And as external hiring becomes increasingly challenging in the coming years, the value of these outcomes will only grow.

Quiet hiring helps companies modernize their skills, maintain market value, and tackle the challenges of the quiet quitting movement. With careful execution, it’s a powerful long-term strategy for any organization.

Risks of Quiet Hiring

As an employer, you must exercise care when asking your employees to put in extra effort through quiet hiring practices. Although this approach may seem like a quick fix to fill personnel gaps, it can have serious consequences.

By asking staff to perform duties beyond their job role without additional compensation, you risk overburdening them and increasing the likelihood of burnout.

Moreover, quiet hiring may lead to confusion and a sense of disorder among your team, causing many to question the company’s stability or vision. According to a recent survey, over a quarter of employees questioned their company’s stability after the implementation of quiet hiring, while over 40% perceived their employer as disorganized with an unclear vision.

To avoid these pitfalls, be sure to follow best practices and plan accordingly before implementing quiet hiring. Your employees’ well-being and the success of your business are at stake.

Tap into the Power of Quiet Hiring With Us

Quiet hiring has proven to be a strong advantage for businesses, helping them to boost their bottom line and maximize the efficiency of their hiring process. Companies have the unique opportunity to tap into a pool of in-demand talent without having to battle larger corporations.

This approach allows employers to quickly identify and attract passive candidates, giving them a competitive edge in the recruitment process. Nonetheless, quiet hiring also has its risks, with the possibility of quiet quitting.

Despite these risks, done correctly, quiet hiring may be a long-term success that can positively impact companies in terms of profits, overall value, employee satisfaction, and more. Ultimately though – the success of the approach will depend on how well individual organizations take ownership of these concepts when it comes time for implementation.

At Curran Daly & Associates, we provide guidance on how to improve your recruitment processes. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your business succeed in the competitive world of hiring.


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By: Curran Daly + Associates


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