How can quiet hiring help to tackle skills shortages?

Quiet hiring, also known as silent or stealth recruitment, is a growing trend that’s set to continue into 2024, in which organisations focus on acquiring new skills without increasing employee headcount.

Quiet hiring can be done in two ways: internally and externally.

Internally, this involves employers opening up new career development opportunities to existing, talented team members by giving them the chance to upskill and take on additional responsibilities. This offers employees the opportunity to climb the career ladder or shift roles, and it enables employers to maximise the potential of their existing talent.

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External quiet hiring, meanwhile, is where employers look to freelancers or temporary employees to fill imminent skills gaps quickly and efficiently. External quiet hiring can unlock a new talent pool of individuals with specialist skillsets without taking up a permanent role.

Why is quiet hiring creating such a buzz?

Quiet hiring is a recruitment strategy that is focused on harnessing the benefits of talent mobility and skill visibility, while also helping to improve the overall employee experience.

It gives existing employees new opportunities to grow and develop in their roles.

By focusing on upskilling in this way, employers are outlining clear career development pathways for existing employees, which in turn can increase engagement and motivation.

Meanwhile, external quiet hiring helps to reduce business demand pressures with external resources as and when they are required.

This is also important in opening up new employment opportunities for talent looking for more flexible ways of working – which can help to keep more people in the workforce.

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The benefits of quiet hiring in action

Quiet hiring is already bringing a number of benefits to businesses’ recruitment strategies:

  • Cost-effectively bridging skills gaps – by investing in upskilling existing employees or hiring temporary workers with the pre-existing skillset, businesses can better shape the skills of their workforce around the roles they need.

    Temporary recruitment in particular can be a more cost-effective way to access more niche or specialist skillsets, which may be unaffordable as permanent hires.

  • Mitigating the risks associated with traditional hiring processesReed’s research revealed nearly half (46%) of hiring managers regret being too hasty when hiring new talent.

    Quiet hiring can afford employers with more time to make the right decisions when it comes to expanding their permanent headcount. If you hire an interim worker who already has the skills you’re looking for, then you may later decide to offer them the role permanently.

  • Prioritises talent development, which in turn can improve talent retention – investing in upskilling existing employees not only helps to grow their skillsets, but also makes them feel more valued.

    Seeing clear career development opportunities helps to keep employees engaged and motivated, and in turn, boosts their loyalty.

    On top of this, it’s also fantastic for your employee value proposition and employer brand and will be a key selling point for prospective employees.

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Potential downsides

However, despite its benefits, internal quiet hiring should still be implemented carefully – and often in balance with temporary recruitment and other traditional hiring processes.

If too much emphasis is placed on internal quiet hiring, giving employees too many additional responsibilities at too quick a pace, it can have the opposite effect; leaving them more stressed, disengaged and can even lead to burnout.

Instead, it needs to afford employees with exciting career opportunities at a pace they can manage – it’s not a tool to avoid making additional hires.

External quiet hiring through temporary recruitment can help to balance the pressure of increased demand on teams, offering a more flexible and bespoke recruitment solution that helps your business to access the talent you need, when you need it.

Finding the perfect balance

Internal quiet hiring enables employers to unlock the full potential of existing talent, but finding the right balance between this, temporary and traditional recruitment is key to harnessing the potential benefits, while still preserving a strong and inclusive company culture.

Ian Nicholas is global managing director at Reed