2022 became the year in which ‘Quiet Quitting’ became a global phenomenon, largely due to the work of Zaid Khan TikTok. In a short video, Khan explained his reasoning for not wanting to quit his job and rather do the absolute minimum and keep his job. “Quiet quitting [means] you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond at work. Work is not your life. Your worth is not defined by your productive output. This [concept] works best if you can tolerate your job. If you’re miserable, get outta there. Your peace of mind comes first.”
New year, new trend
New year, new buzzwords. In 2023, Quiet Hiring is emerging as another trend on the other end of the spectrum. Gartner considers ‘Quiet Hiring’ the #1 trend for the year — and raises a challenger for the Quiet Quitting phenomenon.
Quiet Hiring means that organisations add new skills, without necessarily hiring more (full-time) employees.
So what does it mean? Simply put, Quiet Hiring means that organisations add new skills, without necessarily hiring more (full-time) employees. In other words: a focus on internal mobility, commitments to the right priorities, upskilling and increasing opportunities for current employees. The silent factor comes in when you look at the way this is achieved: by focusing on alumni networks and more flexible people.
A $500 billion problem
Low productivity and the general consensus behind Quiet Quitting directly cause approximately $500 billion of problems for the US economy. Quiet Hiring could be a step to negate some of those losses. Organisations can save on onboarding costs, for example — but there’s still a risk involved, experts say. If quiet hiring approaches are not transparent — employees could feel undervalued, having to do more with fewer resources. And in the worst-case scenario: leave.
It certainly isn’t revolutionary — but it could be viewed as a response to the frustrations associated with traditional recruitment processes.
Many also see Quiet Hiring as a response to the layoffs currently happening at US tech companies as well as the gloomy economic outlook. It certainly isn’t revolutionary — but it could be viewed as a response to the frustrations associated with traditional recruitment processes. They lengthy application rounds, not nearly enough touchpoint and often subsequent disappointments.
New skills as the reward?
Organisations often frame the trend as an opportunity for their current employees: they get to do more, acquire new skills, achieve different goals. They’ll argue that those skills will help them later in their career. But not all employees seem to be equally pleased, Fortune noted. Employees could grow malcontent if organisations want to give people more tasks, without offering any form of a reward. “There is no reward for doing extra tasks. Except: even more tasks”, a Redditor subtly noted.
Perhaps it is old wine in new bottles — seeing as this trend first surfaced in September in Inc. magazine and only became popular when CBS News reported on it. But it is more than just a buzzword, Vox argues, citing new research from Monster that shows that 80% of employees are said to have already been ‘quietly hired’, or in other words: ‘have been given a new role with new responsibilities, in the same organisation.
‘It should be a win-win’
Emily Rose McRae, senior director of research at Gartner, who popularised the term, primarily views it as an opportunity for both employees and employers to view it as an equal exchange. “Employees have a lot of power right now. Employers would be in dire straits if they left. There should be an exchange going on here.”
McRae cites the example of Australian airline Qantas, which asked executives to address a labor shortage last year, in part, by rotating in as baggage handlers. “The executives are doing it in part because it’s the right thing to do to keep the company going, but it’s also just a rotation that makes sense for a lot of people”, McRae says. The other benefit: those executives also gained a deeper understanding of how their operations work.
More than just a buzzword
Buzzwords may be buzzwords, but according to McRae, Quiet Hiring just may stick around. “The reality for the next year is — whether or not we go into a recession — everyone’s a little nervous,” McRae says. “In a lot of cases, organisations are not necessarily doing a hiring freeze, or layoffs, but maybe slowing down a little bit on their hiring.”
“The nature of work is shifting, and these terms help us fit those changes into our worldview.”
But it’s always good to be wary of new buzzwords floating around the recruitment and HR industry, argues Harvard professor Joseph Fuller in a Vox article. “What we’re seeing is an effort to try to relate changes in the way work is done to historical paradigm. In other words: the nature of work is shifting, and these terms help us fit those changes into our worldview.”