How to excel at quiet hiring in 2024

Three people at work with their arms raised to celebrate their quiet hiring

If you've spent any time on the internet over the last year, you've likely encountered the term 'quiet quitting'. Estimated to make up around 50% of the US workforce,¹ quiet quitters are disengaged employees who do the bare minimum to keep their jobs.

This term spawned yet another buzzword in the HR world, which Gartner named one of their nine top work trends of 2023.² The new phrase on everyone's lips is 'quiet hiring', which is when organizations leverage and build on current employee's skills rather than bringing in new talent.

Some say quiet hiring is a direct response to quiet quitting, a way to re-engage employees who have been coasting. Others argue it's a way to cut costs and increase efficiency as we barrel toward the rumored recession.

Either way, quiet hiring can be a great way to get the most out of your people and some of the world's savviest organizations have been doing it forever. Read on to learn how you can utilize the F4S platform to excel at quiet hiring in 2023, and increase your employee retention and performance in the process.

Table of contents
What is quiet hiring?
Quiet hiring vs. quiet quitting
Quiet hiring vs. quiet firing
Quiet hiring vs loud layoffs
Why is quiet hiring taking off in 2024?
How does quiet hiring benefit businesses and employees?
What are the challenges and obstacles of quiet hiring?
How to effectively practice quiet hiring to develop your staff

What is quiet hiring?

Also known as silent hiring, quiet hiring is simply mobilizing your internal talent to address the needs of your organization.³ As Gartner puts it: "Quiet hiring enables organizations to strategically address acute, immediate business needs by assigning existing employees to new roles, expanding existing employees' responsibilities through stretch and upskilling opportunities (in both cases with commensurate compensation), by hiring temporary workers to perform specific tasks, or any combination of the three."⁴

This might involve nurturing current employees to advance into leadership roles or encouraging in-house talent to explore their strengths and interests so they can step sideways into a different department.

You might be wondering what quiet quitting looks like, in the context of some of the other biggest workplace buzzwords. Here's how it compares to the other 'quiet' (or, not so quiet) trends.

Quiet hiring vs. quiet quitting

As mentioned, quiet hiring can be a way to improve employee engagement among 'quiet quitters' who have mentally tapped out. However, it can also work in the reverse. Without a proper quiet hiring strategy, employees can end up taking on too many additional responsibilities, which can lead to burnout and disengagement (ie. quiet quitting).

Quiet hiring vs. quiet firing

Research shows that two of the main reasons people leave organizations are poor management and lack of growth.⁵ So, it could be argued that quiet firing is the opposite of quiet hiring — when managers fail to provide adequate training, support, and development. In some cases, this is done intentionally to encourage underperforming employees to leave without having to fire them.

Quiet hiring vs loud layoffs

Loud layoffs is a term for the massive tech industry layoffs that made headlines in 2023 (think Apple and Microsoft). It's likely these organizations would have used a quiet hiring strategy to fill department gaps and keep their remaining employees engaged.

Why is quiet hiring taking off in 2024?

Quiet hiring has always existed within some organizations (Google is one company that is famous for it, thanks to its extensive internal development initiatives), however, it's only recently hit the mainstream. The factors driving the current trend include:

Economic downturns

A study at the beginning of 2023 found that 61% of economists believe there will be a recession by the end of the year.⁶ In the face of this uncertain global economy and slowing revenue, it's unsurprising that organizations are tightening their purse-strings and looking internally for talent.

Widespread talent shortages

In 2023, 77% of companies globally reported labor shortages, the highest number in seventeen years.⁷ With fewer external candidates available, it makes sense for employers to look at filling skills gaps among current employees.

Hiring freezes

Instead of doing layoffs, sometimes companies implement hiring freezes. This is when an organization temporarily stops hiring for open roles. This can be an efficient way to improve cash flow and maintain headcount, but usually requires internal shuffling.

How does quiet hiring benefit businesses and employees?

When done well, quiet hiring can provide a major competitive advantage for organizations. It allows them to maximize resources and do more with less, which is crucial in the current market. The benefits of quiet hiring include:

Increased business agility

In high-growth organizations, talent requirements rapidly evolve and fluctuate. Research shows it takes 36 days on average to recruit a new hire and it isn't always realistic to wait that long.⁸ In the past, companies might have used short-term contractors to bridge these gaps, however, this can quickly become expensive. Quiet hiring allows organizations to dynamically respond to changing needs by moving employees around as required.

Reduced risk and cost

It costs the average organization $4000 to hire and onboard a new employee, so it's no surprise that quiet hiring can lead to cost savings.⁹ On top of that, new hires don't always pan out and this can cost a company 2.5 times the employee's salary in the long run.¹⁰ The reality is, it's usually safer and more cost-effective to rely on someone you've already worked with.

Improved job security

Quiet hiring doesn't just result in better security for the organization. By upskilling current employees to take on additional duties, they can become indispensable within the team. This may work to protect them from potential job cuts, as well as increase their employability.

Better employee engagement

Employees easily become bored and unfulfilled if they don't have the opportunity to grow in their roles. This is especially true of high-performers. These employees need new challenges to stay engaged in the workplace long-term. By providing professional development opportunities (and potentially a title change to match), you can retain these star players for longer.

What are the challenges and obstacles of quiet hiring?

Quiet hiring can be an efficient way to meet organizational goals, without reinventing the wheel or making investments you can't afford. However, it's not a strategy that should be employed without a solid plan. Along with the many potential benefits, quiet hiring comes with its share of obstacles. These include:

Employee burnout

When done ineffectively, quiet hiring can lead to extra responsibilities without the financial payoff. This contributes to poor work life balance and increased physical and emotional stress. With excessive workload and burnout being two of the biggest reasons people leave jobs (especially young people), this can negatively impact employee retention.¹¹

Dips in performance

Not all burned out employees will immediately leave the company. In fact, in one study, 15% of employees stated that they would not quit if they were quiet hired, but only because their 'hands are tied.'¹² This resentfulness creates other issues, like lower performance, absenteeism, and presenteeism. Research shows that exhausted and overworked employees are 63% more likely to take a sick day,¹³ and only time will tell if that's because they're busy rage applying for other jobs!

Persistent workforce gaps

In some cases, quiet hiring is a temporary, band-aid solution to a bigger issue. Say, for example, your company requires more data analysts to achieve its next level of growth. Rather than looking externally for statistics experts, you enroll your existing marketing manager in a data training workshop. However, if this is not their strength (or an area they are interested in), and they underperform or leave, you're still left with these mission-critical roles to fill, and have lost a valuable employee in the process.

Damage to employee morale

Research shows that 27% of workers say they'd wonder if their organization was going out of business if they were quiet hired.¹⁴ A further 42% would perceive that company as disorganized and lacking a clear vision, according to the same study. To maintain trust and employee morale, it's important that quiet hiring is mutually beneficial, not just a way to fill vacancies.

How to effectively practice quiet hiring to develop your staff

The good news is, with the right approach, you can make quiet hiring a win-win for both your organization and employees. The key is to gain clarity on the untapped skills and career aspirations of your people, so you can match professional development opportunities accordingly.

At Fingerprint for Success, we leverage powerful data to identify and nurture top talent in your company. Based on more than 20 years of research, our work style assessment is over 98% accurate at measuring 48 work motivations. So, you'll know exactly how to get the best out of your team and keep them engaged.

F4S team dashboard
F4S team dashboard

You might even discover hidden gems you haven't noticed before, because these people weren't doing work aligned with their strengths. Perhaps you hired an employee to do behind-the-scenes admin work. However, after the F4S assessment, you discover they're extremely high in the traits of extroversion, achievement-focus and people orientation. You quiet hire them to take on some sales calls, where they earn a commission on top of their salary. They thrive doing this work, and ultimately end up joining the sales team. In this scenario, everyone wins.

F4S' talent development platform begins with taking our individual work styles assessment. As well as uncovering your motivations, this will give you unparalleled insight into your communication styles, blindspots, and more. You will also receive a coaching program, tailored to your biggest opportunities for growth. These bite-sized coaching sessions are delivered whenever is convenient for you, by our virtual AI Coach Marlee.

Once you complete your assessment, you can set up a team and invite each of your teammates. As each employee joins, this will provide you with valuable data at both an individual and team level. This enables you to identify any hidden strengths or skills gaps within your organization. F4S' team building and development tools include:

Culture Map

Get a snapshot of the overall 'feel' of your culture and understand how different motivations influence team dynamics.

F4S team culture map shows this team has a respect for leadership
F4S culture map

Team Affinities Report

Understand the common ground which can help achieve alignment, harmony, and flow in your teams.

F4S team affinities report shows this team is experimental and active
F4S team affinities

Power of Differences Report

Celebrate unique strengths, while identifying gaps in team work styles which can lead to friction down the track.

F4S team differences shows who prefers internal vs external reference
F4S team differences

Benchmarking

Measure how your team (and employees) stack up against top industry performers, so you can highlight opportunities for potential internal movement.

F4S team benchmarking scale shows personal and team motivations
F4S team benchmarking

Communication

Clarify how each team member prefers to communicate, to improve collaboration and resolve conflict faster.

Accelerate understanding between teams

Breadth

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Motivated by macro big picture thinking, these teammates value moving quickly to connect dots between abstract ideas to 'get the gist' of things.

Chart showing rage from Average, High and Ver High.

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Depth

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These teammates value being concrete and specific, getting into details to understand the steps or tasks required.

Chart showing rage from Average, High and Ver High.

See the different work styles in your team

Take the free assessment & set up your team

These insights empower you to make data-driven decisions when quiet hiring, rather than relying on a gut feeling (which is often muddied by bias). Armed with a birds-eye view of your organization, you can easily identify which job roles need to shift or change. You can also build better teams by optimizing for the right mix of communication styles and motivations. Together, this will enable you to create a culture where your people feel equipped to do their best work.

Turn quiet hiring into your biggest strength

Whether they realize it or not, many companies are already quietly hiring by giving people more work than they signed up for. However, it takes a special type of leader to turn this into an advantage that serves both employee and company needs. With Fingerprint for Success' suite of analytics and talent development tools at your fingertips, you can join their ranks and excel at quiet hiring in 2023.

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  1. Harter, J. (2022). Quiet Quitting Is Real: The Rise of the Purpose-Driven Employee. Available at: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/398306/quiet-quitting-real.aspx

  2. McRae, E & Aykens, P. (2023). 9 Future of Work Trends for 2023. Available at: https://www.gartner.com/en/articles/9-future-of-work-trends-for-2023

  3. Et Atillah, I. (2023). What Is Quiet Hiring and Why Is It Trending in the Workplace? Available at: https://www.euronews.com/next/2023/04/20/what-is-quiet-hiring-and-why-is-it-trending-in-the-workplace

  4. Gartner. (2023). Quiet Hiring. Available at: https://www.gartner.com/en/human-resources/glossary/quiet-hiring

  5. Evanish, J. (2022). People Leave Managers, Not Companies. Available at: https://getlighthouse.com/blog/people-leave-managers-not-companies/

  6. World Economic Forum. (2023). Chief Economists Say Global Recession Likely in 2023, But Cost of Living Crisis Close to Peaking. Available at: https://www.weforum.org/press/2023/01/chief-economists-say-global-recession-likely-in-2023-but-cost-of-living-crisis-close-to-peaking/

  7. ManpowerGroup. (2023). The Talent Shortage Survey Results. Available at: https://go.manpowergroup.com/talent-shortage

  8. Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). (2023). Talent Acquisition Report: All Industries, All FTEs. Available at: https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/business-solutions/Documents/Talent-Acquisition-Report-All-Industries-All-FTEs.pdf

  9. Peterson, A. (2020). The Hidden Costs of Employee Onboarding and How to Reduce Them. Available at: https://www.glassdoor.com/employers/blog/hidden-costs-employee-onboarding-reduce

  10. Chandler Macleod. (2018). The True Cost of Hiring the Wrong Person. Available at: https://www.chandlermacleod.com/blog/2018/09/the-true-cost-of-hiring-the-wrong-person?

  11. CNBC. (2022). Stressed and Burned Out? Quitting Your Job May Not Help. Available at: https://www.cnbc.com/2022/06/14/stressed-and-burned-out-quitting-your-job-may-not-help.html

  12. Monster. (2023). Quiet Hiring: Is it an Opportunity or Overwhelming for Employees? Available at: https://hiring.monster.com/resources/blog/monster-poll-8-in-10-workers-have-been-quiet-hired/

  13. Employsure. (2021). Employee Burnout: Understanding and Managing Workplace Stress. Available at: https://employsure.com.au/guides/workplace-health-and-safety/employee-burnout/

  14. Monster. (2023). Quiet Hiring: Is it an Opportunity or Overwhelming for Employees? Available at: https://hiring.monster.com/resources/blog/monster-poll-8-in-10-workers-have-been-quiet-hired/
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