Expert Alert

Quiet Hiring

Image of Ross Jahnke. Credit: Getty Images.

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (07/11/2023) — Hiring is slowing down in the United States, according to the June report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics last week. As traditional hiring in businesses and government agencies recently experienced its smallest monthly gain in over two years, there's a new labor-related term trending: “quiet hiring." 

The workplace phenomenon of quiet hiring is adjacent to last year’s viral quiet quitting trend, where employees do not outright leave their positions but instead put in the minimum amount of work needed to stay afloat. So where does quiet hiring fit into the picture of the changing labor market?

Ross Jahnke, director of Professional Development Programs in the College of Continuing and Professional Studies, provides expert commentary on what quiet hiring is, why it’s trending and what employees and employers need to know.

Ross Jahnke, Ed.D.

“Quiet hiring is the practice of expanding an organization’s capacities by assigning existing employees new responsibilities. Those new responsibilities often require new skills or a higher-level application of existing skills. Companies engaging in quiet hiring may be trying to fill skills gaps while conserving resources.

I actually find the broadly used term “quiet hiring” unhelpful because it makes it sound like an inherently unethical practice, like something done in secret. It certainly can be done in ways that take unfair advantage of employees or perpetuate systemic patterns of bias and favoritism, but that’s not how smart managers employ the practice. 

If you are asking employees to successfully take on new responsibilities, you need to equip them to succeed. I find it helpful to reframe “quiet hiring” with the term “upskilling” — progressively expanding an employee’s capabilities — which is a win for both the employee and the employer. 

For the employee, in addition to increasing their earning potential, gaining new skills and responsibilities can help them feel more valued and confident. For the organization, advancing existing employees through upskilling can create valuable organizational momentum as well as increase diversity as employees are promoted into higher ranks.”

Ross Jahnke is the director of Professional Development Programs in the College of Continuing and Professional Studies. His areas of interest include organizational leadership, professional education and higher education administration. 

About the College of Continuing and Professional Studies
Established in 1913, the College of Continuing and Professional Studies (CCAPS) empowers learners in all stages of life to pursue knowledge, gain experience and see the world in new ways. The CCAPS portfolio of professionally focused courses, webinars and degrees responds to current needs and emerging trends. At its core, CCAPS values access to learning, inclusivity, collaboration and excellence.

About “Expert Alert”
University of Minnesota experts can provide commentary, insights and opinions on various news topics. Find selected experts on the University’s Experts Guide or send requests to [email protected]

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