Make Some Noise for Quiet Hiring

Quiet hiring isn’t a new fad. It’s upskilling done right—and it’s vital for employees’ long-term success

You’ve probably heard of “quiet hiring” by now. On the heels of “quiet quitting” and “quiet firing,” quiet hiring has become the latest corporate trend to take the Internet by storm. But it’s not a new phenomenon.

In my view, quiet hiring is simply an extension of upskilling—albeit, with a trendy rebrand. The hype around quiet hiring presents a much-needed opportunity for those of us in the Learning and Development (L&D) field to underscore the importance of employee training and the role it plays in employees’ long-term success.

By leveraging the trend, we can help employers and employees recognize the value of upskilling and turn their commitments to L&D into a reality. However, it’s crucial for organizations to offer clear strategy and support for upskilling initiatives—collaborating with employees to meet their career goals while fulfilling talent needs.

Quiet Hiring Is an Opportunity, Not a Threat

Quiet hiring—popularized by Gartner’s future of work research team—refers to organizations acquiring additional skills and talent without hiring new full-time employees. In other words, organizations leverage internal talent to fill critical skills gaps and open roles. This often is achieved by switching existing employees to new roles, or expanding employees’ responsibilities through upskilling opportunities and stretch work assignments.

Given the uncertain economic outlook and potential of a recession, many companies are turning to quiet hiring in the wake of increased pressure to keep costs down and reduce hiring budgets. At the same time, the job market remains highly competitive, especially for IT, small businesses, and the leisure, hospitality, and consumer services sectors. Despite the recent wave of high-profile tech layoffs, many companies are struggling to find and retain talent—and they often have fewer resources to help.

Retraining and upskilling employees provides a more efficient and cost-effective strategy to meet immediate skills requirements, enabling organizations to avoid the lengthy and expensive process of recruiting and hiring. That’s significant because the cost to replace a single employee can range from one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary. In some cases, employers estimate the total cost to hire a new employee can reach three to four times the position’s salary.

But it’s not only organizations that benefit from quiet hiring. Employees gain new opportunities for growth, learning, and career progression within their current organizations or beyond. Likewise, upskilling can help employees increase their earning potential and job security by making them more marketable to potential employers.

However, without a clear strategy, proper support, and investments in upskilling and retraining, quiet hiring can create an organizational culture where employees are expected to take on extra work without additional compensation or recognition—leading to feelings of burnout and resentment. But adopting a strategic, collaborative approach to upskilling turns quiet hiring into an opportunity, rather than a threat.

How Can Organizations Level Up Their Training?

As you look to level up your L&D initiatives, consider the following strategies to ensure upskilling and retraining can meet your short-term needs and employees’ long-term career progression.

  1. Embrace curiosity and collaboration. When employees are encouraged to explore new skills, technologies, and competencies, they become more engaged in their work and develop a growth mindset that helps them adapt to change. You should meet your employees halfway by embracing curiosity, helping your employees identify what interests them, and empowering them to explore how they can develop new, relevant skills within their current role.

Managers and directors play a critical role in this process by providing access to cross-functional opportunities, encouraging employees to pursue their interests, and helping employees identify opportunities for growth and development, even if these opportunities are not directly related to their current job responsibilities. Embracing curiosity also allows you to tap into nontraditional talent pools to identify people with the right skills and potential, even if they do not fit the typical mold for a particular job or role.

  1. Set a clear career architecture. Quiet hiring requires a high level of transparency and trust between employers and employees. Without these crucial components, employees start to feel undervalued, overworked, or demotivated. They may end up leaving your company altogether.

A clear job architecture provides employees with opportunities to develop transferable skills, learn and grow within the organization, and move into different roles that are aligned with their professional and personal development goals. However, this is an area where most companies could use some work: 85 percent of corporate training departments said they feel ill-equipped to create new career paths for their employees.

  1. Develop transferable skills. Your employees have transferable skills that can be leveraged as they move into a new role or take on new responsibilities. For example, someone in business development also may have project management skills—such as managing relationships, timelines, and contracts—that could help them move into a project manager role.

You can increase employees’ transferable skills by encouraging and offering support for a variety of educational options. Fortunately, there are more options available that allow professionals to develop skills for short-term impact and immediate results. In addition to traditional academic courses and graduate programs, online boot camps, micro-credentials, and badges have become more accessible and increasingly popular because they provide targeted education and training in specific skills or areas of expertise. In fact, non-academic courses, training, or certifications are the most popular options for adults considering additional education.

  1. Offer mentorship opportunities. L&D shouldn’t be left for employees to handle on their own. Establish formal and informal mentorship opportunities to support employees as they navigate their careers. Mentors provide the necessary guidance, advice, and support to help employees develop the skills they need to succeed in their current roles and prepare them for future career opportunities.

Connecting with more seasoned professionals, learning from their experiences, and gaining insights into how their careers have progressed can help employees broaden their horizons and explore new career paths. Additionally, mentors can help employees explore opportunities outside of their traditional career paths, enabling employees to expand their network and build relationships with other professionals both inside and outside your organization.

  1. Be supportive, not prescriptive. It’s important to approach any upskilling, retraining, or other L&D opportunity as a supporter. Instead of mandating specific courses, offer a variety of learning options and encourage employees to take ownership of their professional development.

One way to do this is by offering access to online platforms such as Udemy, Coursera, and LinkedIn Learning, which offer a vast selection of courses and learning opportunities that employees can take at their own pace and convenience. Likewise, learning management systems (LMS) can track employee progress and provide analytics that identify skill gaps and areas for improvement, and create customized learning paths designed to meet the unique needs of each employee. Additionally, you can provide an annual stipend for professional development that can be used for conferences, courses, or certifications that align with their employees’ career goals.

Although the term, “quiet hiring,” inevitably will fade away (or at least fade from headlines), reskilling and internal mobility will remain a critical need as employers and employees navigate continued economic uncertainty and labor disruptions. When done effectively, upskilling benefits both employers and employees—enabling employees to gain new skills and opportunities for career growth, while employers benefit from a more skilled and adaptable workforce.

By offering a variety of learning options and implementing a collaborative approach, you can foster a culture of continuous learning—leading to greater opportunities for growth and development, increased career flexibility and mobility, and higher overall job satisfaction.

Jeremy Walsh
Jeremy Walsh is the EVP of Corporate Partnerships at AllCampus, where he develops and manages relationships with Fortune 1000 businesses and oversees employer solutions. Walsh focuses on helping employers amplify their education and learning strategy to attract, retain, and develop top talent.