Since the start of the pandemic, terminology around employment has shifted, affecting how we discuss and think about modern work. The Great Resignation, quiet quitting, quiet firing—these expressions have appeared in recent years to help us understand our era’s work-related trends, particularly as people adjust to evolving hybrid schedules, workplace redesigns, and return-to-office efforts.
Joining this growing assortment of “quiet” terms is a recruitment approach known as quiet hiring, which describes filling open positions from within an organization, reallocating employees to different jobs or tasks, and/or utilizing short-term contract workers to meet company needs. Workers filling these roles are often those seeking to learn new skills and take on additional responsibilities, which can lead to new opportunities or the expansion of an existing position.
While the phrasing may be new, internal referrals and network-based hiring have always been part of how companies fill empty roles. But now, flexible work arrangements and the vast reach of social media networks have streamlined the process of identifying and engaging with talented employees, allowing leaders to sidestep traditional recruitment methods to find the right fit for their team.
These positions may not necessarily be advertised or approached like typical recruitment efforts, but still allow leaders to bring new skill sets into the workplace. Contractors provide companies with short-term access to new competencies, with many temporary or contract workers ultimately joining teams on a full-time basis.
Quiet hiring can also be valuable for attracting passive job seekers—those who aren’t actively looking for a change but remain open to opportunities. Especially for high-performing individuals, new options for professional growth may be appreciated to help them advance their careers and improve their versatility.
With economists predicting a 70% chance of a downturn this year coupled with an ongoing slowdown in labor market activity, many companies are preparing by shoring up talented employees and giving them more prospects for professional growth. According to a January 2023 poll from Monster, 80% report having been quiet hired in the past; 63% say they view the practice as a chance to learn new skills, while 27% report it could lead them to quit. For leaders to utilize quiet hiring capably and keep their best people, those taking on new responsibilities or roles should be interested in the prospect—workers who are happy where they are may not be willing to make a change. Employees should own their career paths and have a vested interest in how they can get more involved.
While agility and adaptability have always been vital for businesses, since 2020, organizations have had to embrace change and explore new options to stay afloat and retain their best people. Quiet hiring presents positives for both employers and employees, but it requires openness from leaders to ensure the situation works for everyone and doesn’t increase frustration or burnout.
A new name for an enduring approach
Although the terminology may be new, organizations have practiced forms of quiet hiring for years to upskill reliable workers and achieve evolving business goals. Employers save money and time by avoiding a lengthy recruiting process while employees can develop their careers and become a greater asset to their team. New terms like quiet hiring help us make sense of the accelerated changes we’ve experienced around work. By remaining loyal, flexible, and offering people a path for advancement, leaders can retain their best employees and grow their companies no matter what new terminology enters the conversation.