The pros and cons of ‘Quiet Hiring’: navigating the emerging corporate trend

Uncovering the advantages and pitfalls of the emerging corporate trend of 'Quiet Hiring in 2023

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Adding to the quiet corporate trends, Emily Rose McRae predicts 2023’s new silent corporate phenomenon, ‘quiet hiring’.

Not a new occurrence, quiet hiring has been present in the corporate world for a long time now. It referred to the practice of organisations hiring talent discreetly, with covert job opening announcements so that their competitors were not notified.

In the new Gartner report, McRae re-establishes what it means in the present context. Quiet hiring in the context of 2023 is the process of filling gaps organisations face in skills, without taking on full-time talent.

Jasmeet Bhatia, CHRO, Thermax, understands the organisational need for measures such as quiet hiring, “if attrition or hiring issues cause gaps in skill within the organisation, getting internal talent to fill in on a temporary basis is ideal, as the end goal for all parties is creating a better product for the customer.”

This can be done either by outsourcing talent through short-term contractors or by rotating the employees within the organisation to fill in the gaps.

“Getting internal talent to fill in on a temporary basis is ideal, as the end goal for all parties is creating a better product for the customer.”

Jasmeet Bhatia, CHRO, Thermax

Here is how McRae sees it taking place. An organisation assesses its workforce, looking for employees taking up more than their designated responsibilities. A thoughtful manager then recognises that the employees have basically begun working in the positions they’ve wanted to all along and uses it as a career-progression opportunity – a case of independent upskilling of sorts. Assuming all of this goes as per plan, the manager then compensates those taking up these added responsibilities accordingly, filling the internal skills gap and retaining employees without having to go through an entire hiring campaign.

McRae, however, urges organisations to use this method with caution, as the strategy is meant to address immediate needs.

Bhatia mentions the importance of drawing parallels when listing out the benefits for the employee and the employer, only then will quiet hiring be a success.

Can it be misused or misinterpreted?

Internal talent rotation and advancement isn’t a new concept in business. Talent rotation is an integral part of employee development and retention, though it has not been used in the manner McRae describes in her report.

Ramesh Mitragotri, CHRO, Ultratech Cement, expands on the same, “Organisations have been rotating talent to fill in gaps for years, but they do it as a planned or periodic rotation exercise. When flash occurrences such as the Great Resignation arise, they create unplanned moves within the organisation, which could lead to confusion.”

If an employee takes up added responsibility due to a lack of personnel at the workplace, it is incumbent on the employer to recognise, inform and compensate the employee in a manner agreeable to both parties.

An organisation should not take advantage of an employee’s ability to accommodate changes in the organisations. Rather, it should take this into consideration while giving out promotions and bonuses to further encourage such behaviour.

“When flash occurrences such as the Great Resignation arise, they create unplanned moves within the organisation, which could lead to confusion.”

Ramesh Mitragotri, CHRO, Ultratech Cement 

From the employer’s perspective, McRae cautions organisations not to think of it as a long-term fix to their hiring woes. It is possible that employees who have been temporarily reassigned to a new position may give their new role priority over their older one, as the organisation wouldn’t have hired anyone to backfill their older responsibilities, causing unnecessary confusion.

It should be noted that the possibility of organisations implementing such programmes can result in over-worked employees, leading to an inefficient workplace. That is why, it is important that organisations track the extra workload taken by the employees and ensure that it does not end up creating a situation where they feel burnt out or demotivated.

“Anything and everything could be misused. Smart managers will understand the overall consequences to abusing quiet hiring. Forcing your talent pool into quiet hiring will do you no good as it will only lead to a sub par product which the managers are accountable for,” says Kartik Rao, GCPO, Good Glamm Group.

How can quiet hiring be leveraged?

Quiet hiring opens up numerous opportunities for employees to initiate important conversations with their employers.

When an organisation announces its need for people to take up these pivot roles, it opens up the opportunity to discuss one’s long-term goals in relation to the position, which can possibly lead to a promotion.

A report from Inc’s Kelly Main suggests the same. In her report of Google’s very own quiet hiring strategy, she observes that employees brought on through the quiet-hiring programme tend to get more raises and promotions.

It provides employees the perfect time to sit with their managers and HR heads to discuss any career-advancement goals they have in mind, whether that be climbing the corporate ladder or better work-life balance.

If implemented well, quiet hiring can offer great benefits, with organisations witnessing a bump in employee efficiency and satisfaction.

“Organisation will have to be extremely contextual when looking to leverage this situation,” adds Rao.

How does quiet hiring relate to ‘quiet quitting’?

Quiet quitting, a trend made popular on social-media platform, TikTok, describes employees’ refusal to do any work beyond the parameters of their current role.

“Organisation will have to be extremely contextual when looking to leverage this situation.”

Kartik Rao, Group CPO, Good Glamm Group

Proponents of quiet quitting box themselves out of ever being able to take advantage of the opportunities quiet hiring provides. Thus, they never avail the career-advancement opportunities that are usually sought by employees, and end up leaving a lot of money that could have been earned on the table.

Quiet quitters believe this is just another way for organisations to take advantage of its workers.

“Employees who are already dissatisfied with their work, or are in an environment where they do not feel motivated enough will be able to look at some of the positives that come with quiet hiring,” says Bhatia.

It is pertinent to mention here that employees who are less likely to speak up on their career goals and aspirations are more likely to end up missing out on important opportunities such as quiet hiring. Organisations should try to broaden their horizons while looking for candidates to rotate, to help fill the skills gaps.

Communication is key

In the end, the backbone of an effective quiet hiring drive lies in how well an organisation can relay its needs to its workforce. It is imperative that the organisation and its managers express their needs in a clear manner, leaving no room for misinterpretation by the employees.

“The purpose for which these moves are being made today is bound to change tomorrow. Thus, it should not be made to seem like these rotations are solely aimed at filling in gaps, rather, they should be used to develop people,” advises Mitragotri.

It should be unequivocally stated that the moves made as part of the drive are temporary. If used as a career-advancement opportunity, both parties should come to a consensus regarding the details of the new responsibilities and the value they add to the organisation.

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