If you read business news and commentary at all last year, you likely remember the viral wave of quiet quitting in the second half of 2022. Quiet quitting happens when employees intentionally scale back their efforts, resisting going ‘above and beyond’ and instead putting in the bare minimum. Organizations keep their people but lose productivity.
With shortages continuing in many industries, and unemployment at its lowest since 1969, we’re seeing a new strategy: quiet hiring. This provides organizations with new skills and productivity without using traditional channels. It could involve adding new employees or distributing tasks and upskilling across the current team. With quiet hiring organizations hire without career fairs, hiring events, and job postings by maximizing networks and potential, and hopefully greater engagement and retention, by upskilling from within.
Leaders seeking to quietly hire might connect with potential candidates directly through personal networks, employee referrals, or online sourcing tools, rather than openly advertising job vacancies on job boards or career websites. The idea is to focus on quality over quantity, targeting a select group of potential candidates who are well-suited for the role, and who may not actively be looking for a job but are open to new opportunities.
Another means of quiet hiring involves your existing team. Responsibilities for what would be a new employee can be distributed across several employees. This could involve upskilling and intentional development planning. The potential benefits for the organization are huge: gains for succession planning, stronger training, and integrated talent management as a whole.
A near-universal challenge in hiring is reducing the number of unqualified candidates: quiet hiring mitigates this, reducing the time and costs associated with the recruitment process – if one is needed to begin with. However, it can also limit the diversity of the candidate pool and lends itself to unfair hiring.
What are the risks of Quiet Hiring?
Quiet hiring raises concerns because it may limit the diversity of the candidate pool and make it harder to ensure diverse and inclusive hiring practices. Here are some specific reasons why quiet hiring can be concerning:
- Lack of transparency: Quiet hiring is often done through personal networks or referrals, which means that candidates who are not part of those networks may be left out. This can create a lack of transparency in the hiring process, as the job and selection criteria may not be openly shared with all potentially qualified candidates. Unfortunately, when upskilling or promoting from within, and expanding responsibilities, a lack of complete communication around these opportunities can damage engagement and retention.
- Unconscious bias: Personal networks and referrals may not always result in the most diverse pool of candidates. This can result in unconscious bias in the hiring process, as decision-makers may be more likely to select candidates who are similar to themselves in terms of background and experience.
- Legal defensibility: Stemming from our first two cautions, if the company does not have a diverse pool of candidates or is perceived to have excluded certain groups from consideration, they could face legal action – for both promotions and hiring. Rough estimates show twenty to forty percent of organizations are using this strategy more than before
- Missed opportunities: Quiet hiring can also mean the company is missing out on potentially great candidates who are not part of their personal networks or employees not sought out for the new opportunity. This could result in the company hiring someone who is not the best fit for the role, simply because they were not aware of other candidates who were better suited.
- Less inclusivity, perceptions of unfairness – and even burnout: Employment decisions have ripple effects. Just like our biological ecosystem – our decisions reach across our teams yielding unintended consequences. Missed opportunities and perceptions of unfairness are key drivers of disengagement and turnover and can thwart feelings of inclusivity. On the flip side, if new roles and opportunities are not enthusiastically embraced, employees and teams may feel they are unfairly treated.
To sum up, quiet hiring can provide new talent quickly and maximize productivity (and hopefully engagement and retention) without the stresses of hiring and onboarding. However, it requires intentional planning to ensure inclusivity and fairness. How can you realistically make this happen? Assessment with validated psychometric assessments, measuring your competencies, will both save time but also provide transparency, equal opportunity, and legal defensibility.
Why not start with the end in mind? Not all psychometric assessments are created equal – or are valid and job-related. What are the clusters of knowledge, skill, and behaviors needed for the responsibilities or role? Assessments provide an objective way to evaluate candidates, reducing unconscious bias in the hiring process. By defining and measuring competencies first, you can select assessments that measure the qualities that bring them to life. For example, let’s say I’m looking to formally assign project management responsibilities across teams. Determining the precise competencies needed could include cognitive ability and problem-solving, personality traits, and values specific to your culture or the role. This can be done for both new hires, internal promotes, or to effectively split tasks across existing team members. the hiring team can make more informed hiring decisions that are based on data rather than subjective judgments.
Quickly and confidently find top candidates
Psychometric assessments can help to identify top candidates who may not have been considered originally. Redistributing tasks and roles in a department? By openly sharing the opportunity, competencies required, and asking interested employees to take an assessment based on job-relevant skills, abilities, and personality traits, the hiring team can uncover internal candidates they may not have considered.
Know strengths and opportunities
A job-related and validated psychometric assessment will inventory the strengths and nature of your team. This will support your organization’s succession planning, training, and an integrated talent management strategy. Corvirtus assessments, for example, highlight the resources and approaches a person most commonly relies upon when approaching a situation or a problem.
For example, you may find that a high potential candidate for a new role is highly resilient, and action focused. Their passionate about supporting others and building flourishing relationships. While this brings many benefits to the team, they may also move to quickly, and benefit from working with people with a focus on operations, structure and planning. If we go back to us upskilling new project managers across our organization, we can more accurately understand, and prepare for, the strengths and vulnerabilities this new project manager brings to the role.
With a quiet (or now it might be less quiet) hiring strategy, we can select an assessment with informative tools and solutions that can be shared with incumbents and their teams, connecting talent assessment with upskilling and expanding roles.
Fairness and transparency
By using standardized assessments that are administered to all candidates, you can ensure that each candidate is evaluated using the same competency and job-related criteria, reducing bias while supporting inclusivity. But this will only happen if you communicate the why behind the assessments; or better yet, the competencies and criteria for hiring and assigning new roles and opportunities. When we’ve worked with organizations on change management, a cross-functional task force, perhaps cutting across levels of leadership and seniority, is useful for understanding how internal incumbents and external candidate reactions and intentions.
Predictive validity and legal defensibility
What all our actions to hire, develop, and promote our employees share is the ultimate goal: predictive validity. This means our process gives us information that meaningfully predicts and supports future job performance.
By using assessments that are specifically designed to measure job-relevant skills and abilities, decision-makers can select candidates who are more likely to be successful in the role and be equipped with resonant information that supports their success.
Is your organization using a quiet (or less quiet) approach to hiring? Are you thinking about it differently with all the attention and coverage it’s received?
If you’re feeling unsure about how you’re distributing emerging responsibilities, promoting and upskilling/growing from within, let’s connect. We’d be delighted to partner with you to build competency-based hiring workflows, seamlessly implement job-related assessments, and partner with you to thrive in tomorrow’s workforce. Contact us today to start a conversation.
Read our blog: Ten Considerations for Choosing the Right Assessment Provider