Chances are you've heard of quiet quitting—the phenomenon of people doing the bare minimum at work and refusing to invest any more time or effort than is required to stay employed. Now, with a persistent candidate shortage and many still anticipating a recession in the coming year, hiring managers have had to get creative to meet their talent needs. This has given birth to a new movement that’s quickly gaining steam: quiet hiring.
What is Quiet Hiring?
Listed by Gartner as one of the top future of work trends for 2023, quiet hiring is when a business expands the capabilities and skill sets of its workforce without increasing headcount. There are two types of quiet hiring we’ve seen playing out in the current market: internal and external.
Internal quiet hiring: a delicate proposition
With internal quiet hiring, you give an existing employee an additional role, responsibility, or skill set that aligns with company needs—in essence, tapping into and maximizing your own talent pool. On one hand, this approach can be a win-win for employers and employees. We have found that legal professionals often leave a job because they feel they have stagnated in their career progression and are not being given enough opportunities for growth. Thus, by giving employees the opportunity to learn coveted new skills or advance into a more sophisticated role, employers can ensure happier, more engaged workers and better retention rates in a still-tight job market.
Internal quiet hiring is something that must be executed ethically and transparently; this point cannot be overemphasized. When augmenting a person’s job duties, managers should explain how this change is strategic to the company’s success and why that specific individual was chosen. And of course, if a team member is asked to significantly change up their job role, a bump in pay—plus an upgrade in job title—may be warranted.
The peril of internal quiet hiring is that when it’s not done mindfully, it can backfire. Here are some pitfalls to consider:
External quiet hiring: A less risky and often more cost-effective option
That brings us to the next type of quiet hiring: external. This is when companies hire consultants and contractors to fill their talent and expertise gaps. Organizations that aren’t familiar with this flexible staffing model may have reservations about using temporary talent, including level of loyalty, speed of onboarding, and potential negative impact on morale. But from what we’ve seen as recruiters, external quiet hiring is a low-risk tactic with very few downsides. Consider the advantages:
What’s more, external quiet hiring is often the most cost-efficient option in the long run. Contract employees don’t come with the hefty cost of benefits. When you engage an experienced consulting attorney or paraprofessional, you also don’t have the added expense and headaches of training.
Most importantly, engaging contractors frees up more time for your permanent employees to focus on their assigned job duties, working toward and obtaining a promotion, fostering a better work-life balance, preventing burnout, and boosting morale across the board. This can help you decrease attrition and spare your company the costs of finding new full-time hires.
In this unsettled economic environment, a brisk hiring momentum may not be in the cards. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep your business growing steadily. Quiet hiring can help you access the skills and expertise you need to stay competitive without straining your budget. Although looking in-house is an option, using contractors can save you added time and money while empowering you to harness some of the best talent the legal industry has to offer.