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Advice on dealing with 'quiet hiring' in the workplace

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Is your employer quietly hiring talent from within?

Last year, ‘quiet quitting’ became a hot-button subject. The term was used to describe burnt-out employees who clocked in and out as usual but put in minimal effort at work, ignored after-hours emails, and used any excuse to call in sick. And eventually, these so-called quiet quitters might stop showing up to work altogether.

Now, ‘quiet hiring’ is another term that has arisen in today’s ever-so-quiet workplace. It’s a term that often seems to be characterized by indirect communication from both employers and employees. Below, I’ll outline some of the benefits and drawbacks of quiet hiring and offer some tips for employees to take advantage of it to help further their careers.

What is quiet hiring?

Traditionally, new hires may have been eagerly introduced to their co-workers and in-house staff who received promotions were applauded, given a raise, and recognized by their peers.

Today, an increasing number of businesses are engaging in a practice called ‘quiet hiring.’

Essentially, this term refers to companies that hire from their own talent pools rather than seeking outside talent. While this is far from revolutionary, the key difference is that today, many employers are choosing to do so in a far more quiet manner.

Instead of giving their employees a formal promotion complete with a new title and work contract, they’re simply expecting more of their current employees and offering quiet pay raises in exchange for the extra effort.

In the words of Janet Candido, founder of Toronto-based HR firm Candido Consulting Group, “They’ve started already working on the job they want to be promoted to before the promotion.”

Benefits of quiet hiring

From an employer's perspective, some of the key benefits of quiet hiring include:

  • They don’t have to take on as much risk and liability hiring outside talent
  • They’re able to pre-qualify a worker’s ability to fill the role before giving them a formal promotion
  • They don’t have to deal with disgruntled employees who may have been overlooked for the promotion, especially when a formal promotion isn’t given

From an employee’s perspective, some of the benefits of working with a company that quietly hires from within could include:

  • They may not have to compete with outside talent as much
  • They can expect to be rewarded for going the extra mile and taking on more responsibility

Drawbacks of quiet hiring

While quiet hiring has several benefits for employers, the practice doesn’t always lend itself to a positive workplace environment for its labour force. From a worker’s perspective, there are several potential drawbacks:

  • Employees may be expected to perform duties far outside of the scope of work they’ve been hired for in order to receive a raise or promotion
  • Employers may not always reward the extra effort, resulting in staff who are working harder without extra pay

Tips for dealing with quiet hiring

If you suspect that your workplace has been engaging in quiet hiring within its talent pool, here are a few practical tips that you can employ to help you take advantage of the practice.

1. Carefully review your work contract

The first thing you should do is take a close look at your employment contract and identify all of the duties that you’re already expected to complete. If you want to be noticed by your boss, you should be fulfilling all of these expectations.

If you’re already fulfilling your expected duties, the next step is to identify tasks outside of your expected scope of work. The more you excel in these tasks, the more room you’ll have tonegotiate a raise or stand out to your employer. 

2. Identify ways to go the extra mile

If you’re simply doing what’s expected, your employer may find it easier to look over you in favour of another worker who is going above and beyond.

To make sure you’re at the top of the list for a quiet promotion, find ways to go the extra mile at work. This could mean:

  • Staying late to get the job done
  • Promptly replying to after-hours communication
  • Building strong relationships with and providing excellent service to clients and customers

3. Expand your current skill set

One of the best ways to negotiate a raise, get promoted, and advance your career is to expand your current set of skills by obtaining advanced certifications, workshops, or completing personal development courses. Communicate with your employer to find out what are the most useful skills you can acquire.

4. Seek mentoring from your employer

Expressing your desire and ability to be coached is a great way to get your employer’s attention. This shows that you have initiative, want to do more, and are willing to learn and grow in your career.

If your employer agrees to help mentor you or provide advanced training, their investment of time, energy, and money into your career is a good indication that they want you to succeed and intend to reward your efforts.

5. Become a leader in your workplace

If you want to get promoted to a leadership position, you should start exemplifying leadership traits within your workplace. This will make you stand out to your own boss and will help ensure that your coworkers are accepting of your eventual promotion.

By this, I don’t mean that you should walk into work one day and start bossing your coworkers around. That would be a quick way to make enemies and get you reprimanded by your employer.

Instead, you should exemplify good leadership characteristics, such as:

  • Willingness to help out coworkers with difficult projects
  • The ability to teach and educate new hires and help them succeed
  • Maintaining a positive attitude and high energy throughout the day
  • Having a standard of excellence in everything you do

6. Frequently request feedback

When you request feedback from both your peers and employer, you show a willingness to learn and be coached. It shows that you want to get better, do more, and take on more responsibility.

Aside from this, it can also result in you getting some really good advice that you can use to further your career and get promoted. When you get feedback, make sure that you account for it and begin applying it to your future work to show your employers that you’re actively growing and improving.

Quiet hiring - good or bad?

Quiet hiring can have some drawbacks for workers, especially when employers use the practice to expect their employees to go beyond their scope of work without extra compensation. 

However, it also offers hard-working employees the opportunity to get rewarded for going the extra mile and can give them better leverage when they ask for a raise or promotion.

That being said, employees in a number of industries are having to lower their expectations for a salary increase or raise moving into 2024.

Christopher Liew is a CFA Charterholder and former financial advisor. He writes personal finance tips for thousands of daily Canadian readers on his Wealth Awesome website.

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