Quiet hiring: How to harness talent to build an agile workforce

Quiet hiring: How to harness talent to build an agile workforce

For the past few years, the workplace has been through seismic upheavals and new models of talent acquisition and retention have been created at an unprecedented pace. Quiet hiring, a smart way of redeploying talent has been much talked about lately.

Quiet hiring refers to recruiting short-term contractors externally or reassigning existing employees to different positions within the organization, with them mastering new skills and taking on additional responsibilities to address pressing business needs.

According to Emily Rose McRae, Senior Director of Research at Gartner, quiet hiring is nothing new. Still, more businesses will resort to it this year due to the ongoing talent shortage and fears of a potential recession.

A recent airSlate research report explores how workflow automation tools help employees adopt new skills at a rapid pace, thus making it easier for HR teams to build and manage agile, productive teams, aiding in the quiet hiring process. 

So, what are the benefits of quiet hiring for employers and employees? And how can organizations harness this HR trend in 2023? 

What are the pros and cons of quiet hiring? 

As suggested by a Monster survey, 80% of employees previously faced quiet hiring in the form of being reassigned to another role within their company. Half of the respondents admitted that the role didn’t align with their skill set. Despite that, 63% don’t oppose quiet hiring, seeing it as an opportunity to upskill or reskill. 

At first glance, it seems like businesses stand to benefit from quiet hiring more than employees do, but that isn’t exactly true. If done right, employees can benefit from it by getting a pay increase or promotion. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of quiet hiring for all parties involved:

The pros of quiet hiring for business:

  • Cost-efficiency. Bridging the skills gap without hiring additional full-time employees allows organizations to avoid excessive financial strain.
  • Flexibility. Organizations can quickly deploy internal talent against high-priority business areas. When it’s impossible to find the necessary talent in-house, organizations can turn to hiring contractors or gig workers.
  • Improved employee engagement. Reskilling and/or upskilling initiatives can increase employee retention, engagement, and productivity. Google has been using quiet hiring for a while to identify employees outperforming their positions on the organization chart, allowing them to source and secure the best talent.

The pros of quiet hiring for employees:

  • Pay raise or other bonuses. In most organizations, additional responsibilities or roles entail a payment increase. Other benefits, such as bonuses, flexible hours, or additional time off can be negotiated if a raise is not an option.
  • Expanded skill set. Organizations provide training and support to help their internal talent feel at ease in their new roles or projects. For instance, adopting new technology and expanding employees’ digital skill sets helps foster a citizen development culture. 
  • Possible future promotion. Moving to another position and/or project facilitates networking with colleagues in different departments. Excelling in a job function that is a step up can be used to negotiate a future promotion.

The cons of quiet hiring

A planned or periodic talent rotation is a common practice for organizations to fill in gaps. Unplanned talent rotation as a part of the quiet hiring strategy can lead to confusion among the workforce. 

Here are some of the cons of quiet hiring that both organizations and employees should consider:

  • It must be a temporary solution. Organizations rotating talent internally should not consider it a long-term solution to their hiring issues. Employees temporarily reassigned to another role are likely to refocus, hence neglecting the initial position they were assigned to.  
  • Employee burnout. Organizations that use talent rotation as a part of quiet hiring risk facing employee burnout and loss of efficiency in the workplace. That is why it is essential to track the extra workload taken by the employees and ensure that they don’t feel burnt out, demotivated, or taken advantage of.

How to make quiet hiring work

According to Gartner, transparency and communication can help big time in making quiet hiring work. Organizations must set expectations by explaining what the change will mean and why it’s happening to their employees. At the same time, leadership must be proactive in upskilling their teams, ensuring they’re equipped with all the skills required for a new role or project.

Following these tips will help organizations manage their workforce as well as eliminate potential risks associated with quiet hiring:

1. Make your employees feel valued. Stress how their individual performance contributes to business success. Assigning an employee to another role or project without a proper introduction could result in their resignation.

2. Provide a clear explanation of why change is necessary. Clear and transparent communication can not only boost employee morale but also contribute to building loyalty and trust.

3. Offer reasons for change. Offering reasons for change and explaining how it benefits an employee personally will provide clarity.

4. Explain potential new opportunities. Make sure employees understand new opportunities quiet hiring could offer them. This way, they’ll be willing to take on new roles within the organization and master new skills needed for growth.

5. Provide employee benefits. Career development, pay increases, and other benefits will motivate employees to make the change.

6. Let them know it’s a joint effort rather than an individual or team-based decision. 

The bottom line

Quiet hiring can be an invaluable tool to help organizations address short-term needs fast while achieving maximum productivity from their in-house talent pool. Understanding how quiet hiring works and developing an effective strategy can help organizations bring in new skills and maintain a competitive advantage in the future. 

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