The past few years have been particularly challenging for business owners. The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures put in place to contain it not only led to a sharp downturn in revenue for many businesses but also disrupted the labor market.
While things have improved, many experts predict an upcoming recession. These are the times when employers have to get creative and find ways to maintain their productivity while reducing costs as much as possible. Quiet hiring might be a practice that helps them do just that.
What is quiet hiring?
Quiet hiring is a business practice that involves employers filling talent gaps in their businesses without hiring full-time employees. There are two main ways in which organizations can do that:
- Internal quiet hiring: The company uses its existing employees and asks them to temporarily take on new roles and assignments.
- External quiet hiring: The company hires external contractors to perform tasks that would otherwise require the hiring of new full-time personnel.
What are the main benefits of quiet hiring?
Some of the most important benefits that come from implementing an effective quiet hiring strategy are:
It reduces HR-related costs
The most obvious and important upside of not hiring new full-time employees is it prevents the organization from increasing its running costs. Hiring a new employee can be a lengthy and expensive process, as the HR team must post job ads, go over multiple resumes, select the candidates most likely to be appropriate for the role, invite them to interviews, and finally choose one or more to offer full employment.
Also, qualified prospects are likely to demand high wages, and there's always the possibility the employer-employee relationship simply doesn't work out, meaning the company must repeat the entire process. Finding alternative ways to fill the employment gaps in your organization reduces costs by streamlining the process.
It helps the company stay flexible
Most companies can't just constantly hire and fire employees. Besides the above-mentioned hiring costs, doing so is likely to demoralize existing employees, as it breeds uncertainty over their careers. However, companies generally seek various ways to stay flexible enough to adapt to market demands.
Quiet hiring can do exactly that, as it enables organizations to adapt to changes in market trends and consumer preferences without committing to long-term relationships with new employees. This means they can expand their operations in case of an increase in demand and contract them if the recession predictions materialize.
It can help existing employees learn new skills
While a negative view of internal quiet hiring would be that companies make existing employees do more work without increased pay, this tactic can be an excellent opportunity for them to learn new skills. Not all jobs are heavily specialized, and you never know what developments in artificial technology or other tech advancements might bring in the future. Having as many desirable work skills as possible can help professionals in many fields stay relevant in the years to come.
It can help managers get better
Managers are the ones who best know which employee does what and which additional tasks they might be capable of performing. This is valid for companies of all sizes, from small enterprises where the manager is also the owner to large organizations with multiple low-level and mid-level managers. Having them think of novel ways to delegate certain tasks without hiring new full-time personnel forces them to think outside the box and use their managerial skills to find appropriate solutions. This can help them get better at their jobs, which can benefit the entire company in the long run.
It helps you find your most productive employees
The Pareto principle, also called the 80-20 rule, states that 80% of outcomes are generated by 20% of inputs. In HR terms, this means roughly 80% of the work is done by 20% of employees. The tricky part is determining who those 20% are, which implementing quiet hiring might reveal. Analyze how your employees perform existing tasks and adapt to new ones, and you might find your top performers. This can also help you find the ones with management potential.
It can lead to continuous innovation
Hiring outside experts and contractors might help you stay on top of new trends in your company's areas of activity. Many organizations become set in their ways over the years and close themselves to new ways of doing things. Getting outsiders to come and help exposes you and your employees to updated practices, which might lead to increased productivity. This not only boosts profits in the short term, but might also help you gain a long-term edge over your competitors.
It can help prevent employee burnout
Using external quiet hiring and finding outside contractors to help your existing workforce can prevent your employees from overworking. Filling the gaps in your operations can reduce the pressure and give them the motivation they require to continuously improve as professionals. Reducing burnout can also help you retain your existing workforce.
"These are the times when employers have to get creative and find ways to maintain their productivity while reducing costs as much as possible. Quiet hiring might be a practice that helps them do just that."
Tips on implementing quiet hiring
Consider following these tips to effectively implement quiet hiring practices in your organization:
Know your precise requirements
There's no point retraining existing employees or hiring contractors for tasks that aren't truly necessary for your organization's success. Before considering quiet hiring, perform a thorough assessment of your organization's skill gaps. After determining what you need, identify the skills an employee would require to help you fill those gaps. Doing so will not only help you determine whether quiet hiring is an appropriate approach for your situation, but also help you choose between internal and external.
Provide effective training for your employees
It's usually ineffective to simply tell an existing employee they must perform new tasks without giving them the proper training. Besides running the risk of them not doing a good job, this approach can lower morale and motivation.
One way to avoid this is through a combination of external and internal quiet hiring. Hire outside experts to teach your existing employees how to perform the tasks you want them to do. It's still a much cheaper and more flexible approach than hiring new full-time employees.
Start small and test the effectiveness of your approach
Because this practice is relatively new, there are no tried and tested methods you can follow, and each organization has unique needs. Don't go all-out on quiet hiring from the beginning; instead, take a cautious approach whenever possible. Hire contractors on short-term contracts, and perform monthly evaluations to determine whether their input is a net positive for your company.
Likewise, avoid overburdening existing employees with a multitude of new tasks and skills they must develop. Talk to them regularly to make sure they're happy with the situation, and make sure their new responsibilities don't make them neglect their existing ones.
If there's one thing employers generally dislike, it's uncertainty. These uncertain times can bring new opportunities, though, and finding innovative ways to maintain or boost your output without increasing expenses can not only help you stay afloat but also enable you to thrive. Quiet hiring can be one of these innovations, and implementing it correctly can help you expand your business.
More tips on effective hiring practices:
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Improve the quality of your new hires by considering 6 reasons your staffing firm may be overlooking quality candidates.
Incorporate tech into your hiring by reviewing these options and best practices for employee productivity monitoring technologies.