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‘Quiet Hiring’ Gives New Name to Old Strategy in The Workplace

The buzz was all about “quiet quitting” — the notion that workers are doing the absolute minimum required of them when they are on the job. Now, the trending term is “quiet hiring” — the practice of companies filling vacancies by shuffling personnel into positions they aren’t necessarily trained for and using part-time employees or contractors to make up the rest.

“Quiet hiring isn’t really anything new,” said Eli Jamison, associate professor of practice in Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business. “In many ways, this is a new label for old phenomena in a tight labor market.”

Jamison added, “If it’s done strategically, the practice can be beneficial to both employer and employees. Companies can develop a ready pool of qualified and flexible workers, while employees can deepen their skillsets and raise their profile by building more relationships across their place of work.” Firms that carry this out properly will invest in cross-training and mentoring programs. “Alternatively, these firms may set up networks to speedily access outsourced workers with specialized skillsets,” she said.

For employees, though, there can be risks. “An Individual job can become unmanageable if you’re asked to use your skills in new areas without relinquishing any of your original responsibilities. Also, it’s very possible that you are moved from a position with tasks and people you enjoy, to a place where you don’t like what you’re doing,” Jamison said.

Reasons why companies would choose “quiet hiring” right now instead of filling all vacancies as they open tie into an overall trend that includes news of layoffs as companies reduce staff, “a correction from the over-hiring during the overheated economy we experienced coming out of the pandemic,” Jamison said.

Meanwhile, unemployment remains quite low, which means that while highly skilled workers the tech sector will probably land on their feet quickly after layoffs, “more typical job candidates probably need to be more patient in their job search than they might have needed to be a year ago,” Jamison said. “Employers are likely to be attracted to candidates who can demonstrate their utility and flexibility in multiple work situations.”

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