How quiet hiring benefits both organisations and employees

- March 14, 2023 3 MIN READ


Quiet hiring is on the rise, and could be good for both you and your employees to fill the need for new skills and capabilities without adding additional full-time employees, writes Neal Woolrich, Director of HR Advisory at Gartner.

Australian organisations are finding it hard to keep and acquire in-demand talent, especially with staff budgets taking a hit from the current economic volatility. It’s time for HR practitioners to get creative about securing in-demand skills.

Simply going out to market to attract full-time employees with the right skills isn’t the only answer. Many organisations are increasingly looking internally to find those capabilities with their current employees, ensuring existing talent is used where it can have the most impact. This doesn’t mean that employees will be asked to do more, but rather making strategic decisions about where talent is most needed and where sacrifices can be made.

If an organisation is facing a six-month timeline to hire data scientists but is facing hiring challenges, for example, they could redeploy data analysts from marketing and HR to their IT and digital workplace teams. Instead of expecting them to perform in the same way as data scientists, they could work on communicating findings to stakeholders, allowing data scientists to focus on complex programming tasks.

Immediate benefits for employees

Quiet hiring isn’t just a win for the company itself. It provides employees with an opportunity to work on stretch assignments and learn new skills, making them even more valuable internally and more marketable externally.

There are also more immediate benefits to employees — quiet hiring doesn’t mean employees who volunteer for these kinds of assignments shouldn’t also be compensated or rewarded. To capture the benefits without risking attrition, organisations should offer incentives, such as compensation, one-time bonuses, additional time off, and flexible hours and working conditions.

Focus on skills, not credentials

It’s short-sighted to limit talent searches to people in certain jobs. As resourcing becomes more difficult, organisations need to focus on skills rather than credentials. This method of recruiting using non-traditional talent pools is what quiet hiring is all about.

Quiet hiring can manifest in a number of ways, such as a focus on internal talent mobility to ensure employees are deployed against the priorities that matter most without changes in headcount. This includes offering additional compensation or other benefits for new roles and responsibilities.

Another way is a renewed emphasis on stretch assignments and upskilling opportunities for existing employees. This provides growth opportunities while meeting both evolving organisational needs and supporting employees’ career aspirations.

Finally, it can manifest in alternate approaches to sourcing, such as leveraging alumni networks and gig workers, to bring in talent only as needed.

Employees should be looking for ways to participate in these programs and urge their organisation to provide them with suitable opportunities if they arise.

Long-term value

When done correctly, quiet hiring can be a critical workforce development strategy. It can help to boost employee retention and experience, cultivate home-grown skills, and help to keep payroll costs under control.

Moving forward, many organisations will be challenged with fighting for new, full-time external talent and quiet hiring will be key to filling skills gaps. From an employee perspective, it’s a good opportunity to modernise skills and retain market value.

Quiet hiring pitfalls to avoid

Be cautious of asking too much from employees at a time when many already feel overworked or burnt out. Companies must strike a balance between building employees’ skills and protecting their wellbeing.

Business leaders who find a way to do this successfully will give their organisations a distinct competitive advantage.

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