Quiet Hiring: How This Emerging Workplace Trend Can Benefit Companies And Employees

After quiet quitting, quiet hiring is increasingly becoming a new workplace trend in the corporate sector. Of late, India Inc. has seen numerous trends, which include moonlighting, great resignation, and rage applying. Now, a new fad is ruling the Indian corporate sector – quiet hiring.

What is quiet hiring?   

Quiet hiring, which is also known as silent hiring or hidden hiring, is a new practice that has gained prominence recently. Amid mass-layoffs by several tech firms worldwide, quiet hiring refers to a process of unearthing new talent without recruiting fresh full-time employees. According to research firm Gartner, quiet hiring was named one of the nine workplace trends of the year. The companies, instead of posting job listings on their website or job boards, may rely on referrals from working employees or search for candidates via private networks or recruiters, Gartner pointed out.

Gartner in its report says, “Quiet hiring enables organisations to strategically address acute, immediate business needs by assigning existing employees to new roles, expanding existing employees’ responsibilities through stretch and upskilling opportunities by hiring temporary workers to perform specific tasks or any combination of the three.”

This process carefully evaluates the talent companies already have and make trade-offs on where talent is most required and where the firm can afford to slow down production or reduce employees.

According to Gartner, the key features of quiet hiring are in the following.

  • Internal talent mobility: A focus on internal talent mobility to ensure employees are deployed against the priorities that matter most without changes in headcount. This includes offering additional compensation or other benefits for new roles and responsibilities.
  • Stretch assignments and upskilling: A renewed emphasis on stretch assignments and upskilling opportunities for existing employees. This provides growth opportunities while meeting both evolving organizational needs and supporting employees’ career aspirations.
  • Alternate approaches to sourcing: Alternate approaches to sourcing, such as leveraging alumni networks and gig workers, to bring in talent only as needed.

What led to quiet hiring?

As most of the countries in the world are facing serious economic downturn because of recession and unstable geo-political situation, companies, therefore, are also struggling to keep and acquire in-demand talent. Several tech majors have opted for cost optimisation and reduced staff budgets. But even when resources are less constrained, organisations will face talent mismatches as skill needs shift with the digitalisation of our economies. HR leaders will have to get creative about securing those in-demand skills.

When full-fledged hiring is not an option for companies, they look internally to find those skills — not to exploit employees, but to make sure the organisation is using the limited talent it has where it can have the biggest impact. In this scenario, ‘quiet hiring’ comes to the fore. In quiet hiring, the companies strategically assess the available talent and make trade-offs on where talent is most needed.

Is quiet hiring beneficial for employees?

Gartner says that quiet hiring isn’t just a win for the companies, but also provides staff with the opportunity to work stretch assignments, grow their current skills, learn new skills, extend their careers — and ultimately become invaluable to their current organisation. There are more immediate benefits to employees. Quiet hiring doesn’t mean employees who volunteer for these kinds of assignments shouldn’t be compensated or rewarded in some way. To capture the benefits of quiet hiring without risking attrition, organisations should expect to offer incentives, such as additional compensation, one-time bonuses, extra personal time off, flexible hours and working conditions, according to the research firm.

According to news reports, Google was actively involved in quiet hiring in 2022. The IT firm’s hiring strategy “doesn’t look just to internal candidates to fill positions but it does look to internal staff when considering external candidates.”

Emily Rose McRae, senior director of research, Gartner, said, “The idea is that you have a finite amount of talent in your organisation and you need to make a call about where it’s going to have the best impact.”


Expert views

Bhaskar Ganguli, director, (sales & marketing), Mass Software Solutions

We have always used quiet hiring as an alternative to hiring new candidates. We look to continue since we have got good results. Employee referrals get us better manpower. Yes, some companies are open to quiet hiring. This can be advantageous for companies for several reasons:

It can reduce the number of unqualified applicants and save time and resources that would otherwise be wasted on screening resumes and interviewing candidates. It can help companies find candidates with specialised skills or experience that are difficult to see through traditional recruiting channels. Quiet hiring can help companies maintain confidentiality, especially when replacing existing employees or filling sensitive positions.

However, it’s important to note that quiet hiring is unsuitable for all companies or positions. Some industries or roles may require a broader pool of candidates, and not advertising a job opening may limit the diversity of applicants. Additionally, quiet hiring can raise concerns about fairness and transparency, but that is managed with transparent guidelines.

Saurabh Anand, TA head, Quarks Technosoft

Many Indian companies are open to quiet hiring. It has become increasingly common in recent years as companies strive to break down barriers to employment. Quiet hiring is a recruitment process that seeks to identify and hire candidates who have been traditionally overlooked by recruiters. It involves a more holistic approach to recruitment that takes into account a candidate’s skills and experiences, rather than simply their qualifications. Companies may choose to quietly hire experienced professionals with the right skill set to fill positions quickly. However, it is important to note that some companies may have specific requirements for this type of recruitment, and it is best to contact the company directly to enquire about their hiring process.

Ashish Aggarwal, director, SpaceMantra

Quiet hiring allows companies to access a pool of candidates that may not be actively seeking new opportunities, but are open to considering them. These candidates may have unique skills or experiences that are difficult to find through traditional job postings. Some companies believe that publicly posting job openings can negatively impact their brand reputation. 

For example, if a company is frequently hiring for the same position, it may signal to customers or investors that there is instability within the organisation. By keeping their hiring activities quiet, companies can gain a competitive advantage over other firms in their industry. They can attract top talent before their competitors, without alerting them to their plans. However, it is important for companies to balance the benefits of quiet hiring with the potential drawbacks, such as limited visibility and reduced diversity in candidate pools.

Sahil Arya, co-founder & director, Fat Tiger

Companies interested in quiet hiring tend to be those that value discretion and quality over quantity in their hiring process. They may be start-ups or established firms in highly competitive industries, such as tech or finance, where the right talent can make a significant impact on the success of the business.

These companies are thinking about this trend as a way to avoid the noise and competition that often comes with traditional recruiting methods. By taking a more targeted and personalised approach, they can focus on finding the right fit for their company culture and values, which can lead to higher retention rates and a more cohesive team.

Sana Afreen, CCO and assistant director, (programme management), Rizzle

Companies utilise quiet hiring to reskill, upskill, and redeploy workers without having to add more staff or invest time and resources in finding new talent. Multinational businesses have traditionally prioritised assigning higher responsibilities to current staff who are productive and perform well. With quiet recruiting, we’re talking about a company strategically, at a leadership level, looking at their talent, identifying the significant holes, and figuring out how to close those gaps. It involves picking up new abilities and skills without meeting new individuals.

For employees, it helps them get a better job position in the same company and cancels the time spent on job searches. Big companies or small, quiet hiring is an effective tool not only from a talent management perspective but sending out a very positive signal within the organisation.

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