In 2022, seismic shifts in workplace culture were often reduced to buzzwords.
People weren't just leaving their jobs at a historic rate — they were partaking in "The Great Resignation." "Boomerang employees" returned to companies they once quit when their new gigs didn't work out.
Now, a new catchphrase has entered the chat: "Quiet hiring."
Sometimes, it means hiring short-term contractors, but in most cases, it means reassigning current employees to different positions or asking them to take on additional responsibilities to fulfill an acute, immediate business need ,says Emily Rose McRae, who has led Gartner's future of work research team since its 2019 inception, focusing on HR practices.
Quiet hiring isn't an entirely new concept, but more companies are leaning into this trend to fill jobs given the ongoing talent shortage and fears of a potential recession, McRae explains.
About 80% of U.S. workers say they have been "quiet hired," according to a recent Monster survey of more than 1,000 respondents. What's more, 63% of workers view quiet hiring as an opportunity to learn new professional skills.
Even though it might seem like companies stand to gain the most from quiet hiring, employees can leverage this trend for their own benefit — you might even secure a raise or promotion for yourself.
Understand where the opportunities are
Some companies might make an announcement about needing employees to pivot roles, but oftentimes, quiet hiring happens at a lower level.
Managers tend to approach employees directly about changing job responsibilities or moving to a different team, says Ned Philie, global leader at organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry.
But you might need to seek out these opportunities yourself, Philie says. To better understand what your company's immediate hiring needs are, start with the internal jobs board. If there are multiple open roles in a certain department, that's a clear indication of where a company is focusing its recruitment efforts.
You can also ask your manager or a trusted colleague in the human resources department what the company's hiring goals are for 2023, and how you might help the company meet those goals, Philie adds.
If no opportunities are immediately available you can still get ahead in your career by seeking out online learning courses or volunteering for projects that will help you develop skills that are perennially in-demand, especially during a recession, Karin Kimbrough, chief economist at LinkedIn, recommends.
This list includes soft skills such as communication, leadership and collaboration as well as hard technical skills, if applicable to your job, like video editing or cloud computing. That way, when your company is looking for people to take on more responsibilities or fill a new role, you'll be a more competitive candidate.
Negotiate before committing
If you've been given extra work or asked to join new meetings, chances are, you've been participating in the quiet hiring trend without even realizing.
But if you are taking on more work than usual, or temporarily switch roles, talk to your manager about a promotion or raise — ideally before you make a long-term commitment to either arrangement.
McRae recommends submitting the request in writing, so you have a record of the conversation and can hold your manager accountable to what they agree to.
"You lose a little bit of leverage if you start doing the work without asking for anything in return, so you should have this conversation as soon as possible," she adds.
Ask how the new responsibilities will help you meet your career goals. "Say, 'I'm happy to do this, but first I would love to talk about what this means professionally,'" McRae suggests.
She continues: "Especially if you're doing work that would otherwise be higher compensated, be direct and say, 'I understand that taking on these functions would save the company this amount of money or it would cost this amount to hire an additional person to take on this job as we normally would, how would these numbers factor into my compensation?'"
If you're hoping for an internal promotion instead, the same advice applies: Ask your manager or HR representative how taking on new responsibilities will be considered in your next performance review, or if the company would consider updating your job title to better reflect the work you're doing.
Ultimately, however, it's important not to burn yourself out whilst pursuing a raise or promotion.
"Be honest and upfront with your boss — and yourself — about what you can realistically achieve," McRae says. "There's only so much work one human can do."
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