With a looming recession on the horizon, many employers are turning to “quiet hiring” to cut costs in the new year. But in the age of the quiet quitter and younger generations’ push for greater work-life balance, is quiet hiring really the answer?
What is Quiet Hiring?
Simply put, quiet hiring is when an employer gives an existing employee additional responsibilities without increasing compensation or benefits. Quiet hiring may look like adding duties beyond an employee’s job description, combining two or even three positions into one, requesting more hours on the clock, or scaling up without hiring additional staff.
This practice may seem like an easy way to curb hiring difficulties and navigate a tight budget. But employers that use quiet hiring as a regular practice may set themselves up for long-term failure with this short-term solution.
COVID-19 & The Great Resignation
By now, hearing about “the new normal” regarding our way of life in a post-pandemic world is commonplace. However, nowhere is the new normal more obvious than in the workplace. Pre-pandemic, the rise of Millenials and Gen Z in the workplace already marked a subtle shifting workplace culture. COVID-19 took that quiet shift and cranked it up to 11.
In 2021 the term “The Great Resignation” was coined to describe the exodus of American workers from their jobs at a record four million in April of that year. And the trend didn’t slow down. According to the Labor Department’s most recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover report, 2021 ended with over 47 million people leaving their jobs, a record-breaking all-time high.
Even as the job market begins to stabilize, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the voluntary quit rate of workers is still 25% higher than pre-pandemic. A 2022 McKinsey study found that two out of every five employees globally considered resigning within the next three to six months.
A New Era of Work Culture
On the heels of the pandemic, the workplace landscape is drastically changing, and employers will need to learn how to adapt for continued success. But quiet hiring likely isn’t the answer they’re looking for.
Today’s workers expect more from their employers, and we don’t mean more work. In a world that has become increasingly more expensive, remote work opportunities and an emphasis on greater work-life balance have taken center stage, particularly with the rise of younger generations in the workforce.
The Rise of the Quiet Quitter
Millennials became the largest generation in the U.S. workforce as of 2016. They now account for over a third of all U.S. workers (and 75% of the global workforce). Their younger contemporaries, Generation Z, account for 11.6% of the current U.S. workforce, and that number is poised to triple by 2025.
What do these generations have in common? Burnout.
While burnout is at an all-time high across all demographics, a 2021 survey from Indeed found that Millennials experience the highest rates of burnout at 59%, with Generation Z hot on their tails at 58%.
Cue the rise of the quiet quitter.
For many workers, the pandemic brought already-simmering feelings of burnout and job dissatisfaction to a full boil, and quiet quitting is the response. Quiet quitting, or giving the bare minimum effort to meet the requirements of one’s job, is becoming a more common mode of operation in the workplace, particularly in younger generations looking for ways to cope with burnout and the deterioration of working conditions.
Many employers are missing the signs of burnout and failing to provide their employees with a sense of professional fulfillment, opportunity, and, most importantly, a good work-life balance.
Increased Focus on Work-Life Balance
According to several surveys over the last decade, workers have described work-life balance as the most important aspect of their job. Millennials and Generation Z, in particular, emphasize the importance of work-life balance, with a PwC study finding that 95% of Millenials consider work-life balance “important,” and 71% of Gen Z consider it “very important.”
With the pandemic causing many workers to rethink their priorities, special attention to work-life balance should become a mainstay of any workplace that aims to keep valuable, long-term employees.
Remote Work is Here to Stay
The rise of remote work as a response to the pandemic has also drastically changed the landscape of global work culture, giving many workers a taste of the more comfortable and flexible work-from-home lifestyle. The demand for remote work only continues to grow, with recent research from FlexJob’s Career Pulse survey finding that remote work options improved the overall work-life balance of 87% of respondents.
Remote work improves work-life balance significantly in several ways. Most remote workers report that they save money, with 45% estimating they save at least $5,000 a year. Remote workers also report fewer distractions and having more productive, focused time when working from home.
In a thread on why people want to work remotely on Reddit’s popular WorkOnline subreddit, one user explained:
Can Quiet Hiring Help Your Company?
Knowing what we know now about current workforce trends, the importance of understanding the remarkable significance of good work-life balance for workers can’t be understated. While quiet hiring may seem like an appealing idea to employers, even as a temporary measure, it’s likely to do more harm to your business than good.
Why? For one, hiring is costly. On average, it costs a company six to nine months of an employee’s salary to replace them. That means you will spend $30,000 to $45,000 to hire and train a replacement for someone making a salary of $60,000. If you’re considering quiet hiring to save money, the rewards are certainly not worth the financial risk of losing an employee.
While the financial cost of high turnover is noteworthy, the highest cost of losing employees to burnout caused by quiet hiring may be more insidious. High turnover puts team dynamics off-kilter and disrupts company workflow, which leads to decreased productivity and degradation of employee morale.
What once may have seemed like a sound answer to new business woes, quiet hiring can put companies on the fast track to employee burnout and start a ripple effect of resignations.
Why Freelancers Are the Best Alternative to Quiet Hiring
An oncoming recession, budget cuts, hiring woes – employers are in a tight spot in the 2023 workplace landscape. So, what’s an employer to do?
If you’re feeling pressure to try quiet hiring, it’s time to step back and reassesses your hiring model to better match current workforce expectations. Incorporating freelancers into your business operations is a great way to fill gaps, save money, and not risk losing talented employees to burnout.
Why hire a freelancer?
You’ll Get High-Quality, Specialized Content
Tech, marketing, healthcare, crypto, parenting, lifestyle, teacup pigs – you name it, there’s a freelancer available with a special talent for creating content about it.
When you hire a freelancer, you’ll likely be able to find someone who fits your specific niche, which means you’ll get high-quality, reliable content without needing to put time and resources into training. Many writers and content creators are passionate about their chosen niche and have spent years honing their skills in the field.
And while many freelancers stick to their niches, going with a generalist has benefits too. Many generalist freelancers are jacks and jills of all trades. Because they have a wealth of experience working across industries, they tend to learn quicker and slip into a client’s brand voice and style easily.
You’ll Get Consistent Content
Employers often overlook content creation as a pillar of their overall company operations, but consistent and well-executed content creation is a key part of brand management and business success. You may be tempted to tack on social media posts, blog posts, and other copywriting to the list of tasks a current employee does. But you’re underestimating the time and expertise that goes into creating successful content. Don’t be fooled – high-quality content takes expertise and can’t be executed well by just anyone, especially as a secondary or tertiary part of their role.
Consistency is king in the world of content, and a freelancer can offer you just that. Plus, it’s not uncommon these days for freelancers to be adept in various disciplines. If you need a copywriter, blog writer, and graphic designer, you may just be able to find all three in one person, which means more consistency (and better brand recognition) for your company.
You Have More Options
The freelance business is booming, growing by 78% in the United States since 2019. This competitive playing field means you’re likely to find exactly what you’re looking for at a price that matches your budget and get higher quality work than you would get by quiet hiring an existing employee. When you widen your hiring options to a country-wide or even global talent pool, you’ll have a much larger group of potential hires.
You’ll Save Money
Freelancers trade the perks of a traditional job – like employer health insurance, 401K contributions, and PTO – for the flexibility of being their own boss. This means you save money when you hire a freelancer because you don’t have to pay out benefits as you would to a regular employee. You also save money on office space, equipment, and costly training and onboarding processes.
You Get an Outside Perspective
Sometimes a fresh set of eyes can be exactly what you need for a project. When you hire a freelancer, you’ll get a new perspective that’s not limited by history with your company. Freelancers can help you identify needs you might not have realized you even had and offer new creative ideas. You’ll also benefit from the freelancer’s diverse knowledge base and experience with other clients that have helped them refine their writing and content creation acumen.
Quiet Hiring Isn’t a Long-Term Issue
Quiet hiring may stay in the headlines this year, but in the end, it’s not a practice built for lasting success. Today’s workforce knows what they want, and employers must adapt to those expectations or prepare to lose valuable employees, productivity, and profits. Hiring freelancers is a savvy way to get the best of both worlds – high-quality content creation that helps you meet your business goals and happy, productive regular employees.
Why Work With nDash To Meet Your Content Creation Needs?
Frequently, content creation-based tasks like copywriting and blog writing are the first to get piled onto a “new” quiet hire, which means they can quickly end up on the back burner.
If you’re struggling to keep up with content strategy, creation, and management in 2023, make it easy on yourself with nDash. nDash makes it simple to find what you need by matching your company with expert, vetted writers and providing ongoing support to help you meet your goals.
Whether your marketing team needs some extra support or you’re looking for full-scale content creation to grow your brand, nDash gives you access to thousands of pro freelance writers across multiple industries. Plus, there’s an easy and intuitive workflow on the nDash platform and comprehensive and dedicated project management for larger-scale content creation.
Ready to up your content game? Let’s chat.
Request a free demo with nDash today and learn how we can help leverage your brand with great content here.
FAQs about Quiet Hiring
What does quiet hiring mean?
Quiet hiring is the practice of giving extra role responsibilities to existing employees without an increase in pay or benefits. Quiet hiring can also look like a company growing without hiring additional staff to keep up with demands, instead relying on existing employees to pick up the slack. Companies may also combine several roles into one job description for a single employee. Quiet hiring can be beneficial for a company in the short term, helping them save money on upfront hiring costs, but it can lead to employee burnout and high turnover.
Why would a company hire someone with less experience?
Freelancers may not have experience with your company or industry, but the wealth of experience they bring from working with various clients is invaluable. When you hire a freelancer, you’re getting a professional whose expertise is capturing your company’s unique position in the market and writing quality content that contributes to the success of your overall marketing strategy.
About the author
Sophie Bebeau is a lifelong wordsmith with a penchant for poetry, a liking of listicles, a bias toward blogs, and a knack for knowing how to capture the voice and message of my clients. Check out her portfolio to learn more about how her work can support your content strategy: Sophie Bebeau