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You Might Have Heard of Quiet Quitting, But Have You Heard Of Quiet Hiring?

While ‘quiet quitting’ has been trending over the past year, another new and related term also is coming to light. Quiet quitting is essentially when employees show up for work, do the bare minimum to keep their jobs, but don’t do much else. Of course, many other workers have actually quit — particularly since the pandemic. So many, in fact, that this phenomenon has a name: The Great Resignation.

Conversely, to adjust to these historic changes in the labor market, many employers have been engaging in what’s being called ‘quiet hiring.’ This new buzzword refers to all the less-visible, alternate ways employers fill open positions rather than the traditional method of posting ads, interviewing candidates, and hiring employees.

Workforce Redeployment
Perhaps the most widespread approach to quiet hiring is workforce redeployment. This is when an employer reconfigures its existing workforce to cover job duties left unattended or unfulfilled because of insufficient staffing. For instance, let’s say a regional sales manager leaves an organization. Rather than hire a new one, leadership asks another sales manager to absorb the open territory.

In the short term, it’s a fiscally effective approach for the employer because no hiring or training costs are incurred. But over time, employees asked to take on more work without a promotion or commensurate adjustment in compensation can grow increasingly unhappy and productivity can suffer.

Sometimes the organization will eventually hire someone to fill the open position, but the employee who handled the work in the meantime may still feel exploited. In the worst cases, a new hire joins the organization at a higher level than the employee who was covering the work — further exacerbating resentment and lowering morale.

The lesson is clear: Be careful about asking employees to take on additional job duties because of staff shortages. To the extent possible, set a clear time frame for how long the bigger workload will last and provide incentives such as bonuses or supplementary time off. Ideally, align the added work with a career growth path.

There are other ways to quietly hire internally as well. For example, you can offer part-time workers full-time employment. Or you could outsource certain basic job functions and then retrain/upskill employees to perform more highly skilled roles. Granted, the training/upskilling will entail costs and you’ll likely have to raise compensation levels.

Other Manifestations
Workforce redeployment isn’t the only manifestation of quiet hiring. Some employers are exploring more creative concepts, such as bringing back recent retirees in part-time or project-based roles. Others are looking into ‘second chance’ hiring programs, which help recently incarcerated individuals re-enter the workforce in a structured, training-intensive manner.

Mind Your Step
Quiet hiring is a natural response to a tumultuous labor market. And the good news is there are potentially fruitful alternatives to traditional hiring. KPM’s Human Capital Solutions team can help you identify and analyze your hiring, training, and ongoing employment costs.

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