Quiet hiring: more work for the same pay?

5 mins

There are new trends emerging in the job market every day, but one you may not have heard of...

There are new trends emerging in the job market every day, but one you may not have heard of is quiet hiring. Becoming more commonplace at work, it’s a phenomenon that both employers and employees need to be aware of. 

Why? Well, quiet hiring is, in essence, when an employer subtly expands an employee's role without offering any additional compensation. It’s a hot topic of debate right now because on the one hand it can be seen as a form of internal mobility, but on the other, employees simply aren’t gaining from the associated benefits that are normally linked with career progression.

A poll carried out by Monster revealed that 80% of employees have been quiet hired. So, let’s delve a little deeper. Is quiet hiring an efficient cost saving strategy or an unethical move that could impact retention?

Understanding quiet hiring

The job market has witnessed numerous challenges in the past few years: a recession, Brexit, and the perhaps the most drastic workplace changes have happened because of the COVID-19 pandemic. One trend we’re seeing in the wake of these turbulent times is the rise of quiet quitting – where employees mentally check out of their roles without formally resigning. Worryingly, one in three workers in the UK alone admit to being ‘quiet quitters,’ arriving at work with the intention of doing no more than the bare minimum. But the lesser talked about counterpart of this occurrence is quiet hiring.

Quiet hiring often starts innocently enough. An employee might be asked to take on extra tasks, work longer shifts, or even assume a new title. And initially, these changes may seem like signs of trust and confidence from the employer. They can even be flattering for employees. However, they can quickly turn into a burden if not accompanied by appropriate compensation. Essentially, the employee ends up doing more and more work (and additional hours) for the same salary.

The implications of quiet hiring

On the surface, quiet hiring might seem like a smart move for businesses looking to maximise productivity without increasing costs. However, it can have significant implications for both the company and the employee.

Implications for employees

For the employee, quiet hiring can lead to feelings of being undervalued and overworked. Over time, this can result in decreased motivation and engagement, reduced job satisfaction, and increased turnover intent. Over a quarter of workers say they’d consider quitting if they were quiet hired, and 4% state they’d leave immediately.

Implications for employers

For the company, while quiet hiring might initially seem like a cost-saving strategy, it can lead to long-term negative effects. 27% of workers say they’d question the company’s success if they were quiet hired, while 41% would view the company as disorganised. And employers who quiet hire are risking lower employee morale, higher turnover rates, and potential damage to the company's reputation, which means candidate attraction can be harder.

Navigating quiet hiring

Does some of this sound familiar? Do you think you’ve experienced quiet hiring? If so, it’s crucial to address the situation promptly.

Start by having an open, honest conversation with your manager about the increased responsibilities and/or additional hours, and, importantly, the lack of corresponding compensation. If your concerns aren’t dealt with, it might be time to consider other employment options.

If you’re an employer, it's essential to recognise that while quiet hiring might offer short-term gains, it can lead to long-term losses. We’ve witnessed organisations avoiding taking on additional headcount, but hiring freezes can have negative effects on your performance. If external hiring really isn’t an option, instead of resorting to quiet hiring, consider strategies like promoting internal mobility, offering fair compensation for added responsibilities, and creating a culture of recognition and reward.

A better, fairer route: internal promotion

There are times when quiet hiring can be done well and to the advantage of both employers and employees. With many industries facing talent shortages, a great option can be to hire internally. And if done well, and with consideration and planning, it can be a tactic for maximising ROI and saving costs without diminishing staff loyalty or satisfaction.

Of course, the key elements of internal promotions are transparency, communication, and inclusivity whilst ensuring the appropriate raises in salary and benefits are implemented. When you avoid simply adding to workloads, upskilling in a more formal way is a hugely positive and rewarding experience for all. 

Career expert at Monster, Vicki Salemi advises, “Having a transparent conversation with departments as well as individuals, so it’s a one-on-one conversation with the performance manager and the person being asked.” She continues, “So-and-so left, and we’re dividing these tasks between three different people, and this will help you grow into XYZ. This data is very valuable for people to know.”

We’ve identified quiet hiring is a growing trend that needs to be highlighted. While it might seem like a viable strategy for companies looking to save costs, it needs to be done strategically and with care, otherwise the implications can be detrimental in the long run. Remember, as an employer, your most valuable asset is your employees. Strategies like quiet hiring can undervalue your people, harming your culture and damaging your reputation.

Have you been quiet hired? Are you taking on more responsibility, more hours, and the associated strain for no additional benefits? At Apollo Solutions, our market experts are working alongside professionals looking to progress their careers, as well as hirers, providing insights that will help you to reach your work or hiring goals. If you’d like to know more about how we could help you, drop us a line or give us a call.

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