The U.S. labor report for December 2022 points to a resilient labor market, characterized by solid job growth, moderate wage gains and unemployment at pre-pandemic lows (3.5%). News of mass layoffs in the tech sector, rising interest rates and a cooling housing market fan uncertainty and speculation about a possible recession. Caution is the watchword in 2023.
Until the economy stabilizes, organizations are understandably hesitant to either hire new full-time employees or dismiss valuable talent that may be difficult to rehire. For this reason, quiet hiring is gaining attention as a strategy for organizations to ensure they have the capabilities and skills to staff business-critical projects — without hiring new full-time employees. A combination of project-based assignments, short-term contract labor and upskilling/reskilling for new responsibilities, quiet hiring is emerging as the go-to human resources (HR) strategy for organizations to overcome their recruiting and retention challenges in the year ahead.
Hiring and retaining key talent is now the top challenge keeping HR leaders up at night, according to a recent survey by HR Executive. With many organizations still filling positions left vacant from the Great Resignation, a possible hiring freeze due to an economic slowdown may result in work left undone, deadlines missed and customers disappointed.
To build a sustainable workforce, some organizations are putting their focus on the employee experience, which helps them stay resilient regardless of the economic conditions. As an intentional HR strategy, quiet hiring can enhance the employee experience and transform workplace culture, benefitting both employee and employer. Meg Bear, president and chief product officer of SAP SuccessFactors, advises organizations to “lean on this as an opportunity to expand the culture to be more human-centric.”
“Instead of trying to solve this with top-down and long-term solutions like hiring, use this as an opportunity to open up your culture,” she said. “This could include fostering more dynamic relationships between people who have capacity to do more and groups or people who need more done.”
Flexible Work Focused on Internal Mobility
Quiet hiring is the latest in a string of HR-related trends that includes quiet quitting and quiet firing, and it is the most promising in terms of advancing human potential in the workplace. By offering employees the agency to strengthen their growth and development with meaningful opportunities, organizations benefit from a wider range of available skills and deepened employee engagement, directly impacting employee retention. “We call this flexible work with a strong focus on internal mobility,” says Bear, who believes quiet hiring will be a key talent strategy for organizations in 2023.
Internal mobility has long been an inscrutable process in traditional workplaces, with open opportunities and projects typically advertised by word-of-mouth. It’s no wonder that hardworking employees may feel overlooked or passed by for choice opportunities.
New HR software applications are bringing transparency to the process of internal mobility and making quiet hiring feasible and fair. In the modern digital workplace, short-term assignments that foster upskilling are posted in an opportunity marketplace that is accessible to employees at all levels of the organization for self-directed career development, based on their individual skills profiles. Employees can choose from a wide range of opportunities for upskilling and reskilling, including dynamic teams that bring together diverse talent from different parts of the organization for collaborative project-based work.
Employers benefit from this use of technology because they gain visibility into how employees are contributing to the organization’s goals. They can also identify gaps on project teams that may require bringing in a contract worker to complete the project. Meanwhile, employees also benefit from enhanced opportunities to develop and grow in their careers.
Born of economic necessity, quiet hiring has the potential to make 2023 the year of expanded opportunity — benefiting employers and employees alike.