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Quiet hiring: a genius idea when done ethically


May 23, 2023


June 16, 2023

Quiet hiring was one of the 2023 workplace trends revealed by deskbird and was considered one of the top 9 trends for 2023 by Gartner1 too. As the job market keeps becoming challenging and professional growth is a key expectation from Millennials and Gen Z, upskilling employees sounds like a genius idea. 

It's not a new concept to offer team members the opportunity to gain new skills or attend trainings to fit a different role. This has been a common practice for a while. When you come across a worker who shows potential and a willingness to learn, it's only natural to want to support and help them succeed. The difference now is that this practice is used for several other reasons, including adjusting to the future of work. So, have you already implemented this new approach in your HR strategy

If not, this article gives you a clear understanding of the meaning of quiet hiring and an insight into the pros and cons of this HR method. If you have already used this practice before, we also have some tips and examples at the end of this article to make this process successful for your business and workforce. You never know, there might be some useful practices you haven’t thought about and applied yet! 

Definition and examples of quiet hiring

The meaning of quiet hiring

Have you ever mentioned an internal job opening to a team member and offered them to get the competencies to apply for that position? Then, you’ve already practiced quiet hiring. And yes, there is nothing new about it. Quiet hiring is about upskilling employees to move talents in-house or giving them more responsibilities than their contract requires. Through this practice, businesses don’t have to recruit externally. The 2023 economic and job market situation has pushed HR departments to use this method even more. 

Examples of quiet hiring practices in the workplace

Upskilling your employees helps you fill your company’s skills gaps and offer your team members a short or long-term job position switch. For instance, they can apply for a promotion or a horizontal move. Their knowledge and abilities can also be required in a different department, allowing them to integrate a new team for a fixed period.  Another example is the start of an internal project where you need talent with particular competencies.

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team training together in a meeting room.

Benefits and downsides of upskilling employees instead of hiring new ones

The reasons why upskilling employees is a genius idea for HR departments

Enables businesses to save money on recruitment processes

Looking for cost-saving ideas is an ongoing process for all organizations. Yet, external or internal events sometimes force businesses to slow down on recruitment. Quiet hiring significantly helps reduce this part of your budget. Investing in training and compensating your current staff based on their skill set is a more cost-effective option than constantly hiring new talent.

Provides a solution to face highly competitive job markets and fill skills gaps

The economic context is one of many reasons for upskilling employees. The current job market is highly competitive. Therefore, attracting and finding the right talent becomes a real challenge for HR departments. Looking into your current workforce is a great solution to overcome this issue. When you hire quietly, you don’t need to look for people who match your values or fit with the rest of the team. They are already part of your team. You only have to help them gain the skills they require to meet the criteria of this new job position. 

Answers the needs of Millennials and Gen Z for professional growth

When examining what defines Millennials and Gen Z in the workplace, you often find common characteristics. For example, people from Gen Y are considered job hoppers, and Gen Z is well known for quiet quitting when their expectations aren’t met. One of their major requirements is the ability to grow professionally, thanks to skill development and promotions. Quiet hiring allows businesses to fulfill their young workers’ needs while saving money. It is a win-win for all.

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gen z colleagues working in a park

Offers employees an opportunity to get out of their comfort zone

Do you feel that your workforce is disengaged and lacks motivation? The first answer to this is to ask them why and what you can do to help them. One of the reasons might be that they are bored with their job and need some spark. Learning new skills is a great way to get them out of their comfort zone and boost their motivation. It also shows them that you trust their ability to grow professionally and support them.

Provides an ideal solution for businesses to adjust to the ever-changing world of work

The creation of new jobs, the production of new digital tools, the evolution of employees’ expectations. All this contributes to the world of work changing at a fast pace. Keeping up can definitely be a challenge for businesses. The rise of technology and the development of new working methods forces them to adapt to remain competitive constantly. Instead of firing and recruiting people, quiet hiring offers more flexibility to face these changes.

Gives a significant competitive advantage to companies when done correctly

This approach allows companies to save costs, answer employees’ expectations, and build a highly skilled workforce. Overall, upskilling workers gives a significant competitive advantage to businesses. Moreover, your assets can be invested in buying modern technology, improving employee well-being, and creating a positive and productive work environment. All these aspects combined also contribute to your growth and success.

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The downsides of quiet hiring

Increases employee burnout risks if not implemented correctly and ethically

Some workers already have a lot on their plate. Adding new responsibilities and tasks to their schedules can become a source of stress and get them overwhelmed. This leads to the opposite effect of what you expect to accomplish through quiet hiring. The goal is not to make your staff unhappy, enhance dissatisfaction, and increase the risk of employee burnout. To succeed, quiet hiring must first be discussed with team members and implemented ethically. 

Works only if businesses invest in training their team members properly

Yes, one of the benefits of upskilling your workforce is to save costs on hiring. Yet, this doesn’t mean you should also expect to save on training. Quiet hiring requires businesses to provide qualitative and appropriate training. The goal is not to put your employees in a new position and let them figure out how to do the job. This would only lead to a loss of time for you and your team members and, therefore, a loss of money. This method doesn’t work if you can’t support your staff in developing their skill set. 

team training with a man explaining business concepts.

Tips for using the quiet hiring method in your business successfully

Promote transparency and trust from both sides

If you are considering quite hiring, having an open and honest conversation with your employees about your reasons and expectations is important. Equally important is understanding how your staff feels about the situation and what they expect from you. Keep in mind that not all employees may be interested in developing new skills at the moment, and it's important to respect their wishes. While it's helpful to encourage them to learn new abilities, it's not appropriate to force them. If an employee volunteers to upskill, this is a positive sign that they are eager to participate and trust you to provide the necessary support.

scrubble tiles with the word trust on a white table.

Adopt an employee-centric approach

As mentioned, the goal is to avoid ending up with a burned-out team, overwhelmed with more work than they should have. Workers are the backbone of an organization. Employee happiness, satisfaction, and well-being must be at your working model’s center stage. The key is to find the right balance, create a clear guideline, and discuss your and their expectations toward this process. Keep an employee-centric approach; your quiet hiring experience should be smooth and successful for everyone!

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Be supportive and provide the proper training

Another essential aspect when quiet hiring is to define with your staff what they need. Not only do they require attending proper training, but they might also expect other types of support. For example, they might ask you to meet people who can share their experience in this job position. Communication, transparency, and trust are key ingredients to make it work. 

Establish a performance review system

Analyzing the outcomes of quiet hiring is essential for organizations as much as for employees. It helps determine if this system works and enables workers to see their progress. You can also get an insight into the areas of improvement. Do your upskilled staff require extra training in a specific domain? Is their salary still matching their abilities and the work they provide for the company? By establishing a performance review system, keeping track of these important elements is easier.  

two colleagues doing a performance review

Reward upskilled employees

One of the reasons for quiet hiring is to save costs. Yet, it doesn’t mean your team members shouldn’t be rewarded for their investment and for the increasing value they bring to the company. Salary increase, more flexible work arrangement opportunities, one-time bonuses … you have multiple options for showing your staff recognition and gratitude. The most important is to do it. Otherwise, what is the point from an employee’s point of view? Not only will they feel taken for granted, but they will also look for better job offers. 

Asking employees to go the extra mile has taken a new turn over the last few months. While upskilling employees is a great cost-saving and skills gap-filling solution for HR teams, it is also an opportunity for workers to widen their skill set. Yet, quiet quitting must be implemented with a considerate and employee-centric approach. It is key to provide appropriate training and resources, support your team members in this process, and reward them for their engagement. Are you offering your teams any flexible work arrangements? Do you struggle to keep track of who works when and where? Are your coworkers sometimes frustrated not getting the workspace they need when coming on-site? 

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1 9 Future of Work Trends For 2023, Gartner. 


Quiet hiring: a genius idea when done ethically

Paulyne Sombret

Paulyne is a highly respected expert in hybrid work. She's known for her writing on sustainability in the hybrid office, flexible work models, and employee experience. With a strong background in content and SEO, her work explores the exciting trends and latest news in the world of work.

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