Last year, we published an article on the trending phenomenon known as "quiet quitting" and how it could impact lawyers. In recent months, a new phrase has come to light in response to quiet quitting: quiet hiring--arguably the opposite of quiet quitting. It's expected to dominate workplaces in 2023. But what exactly is quiet hiring?
Just like how quiet quitting isn't technically quitting, there is no actual hiring taking place within quiet hiring. It is the act of handing out new responsibilities to existing employees in order to expand the organization's skillset. These responsibilities may not necessarily fall within that employee's job description and unfortunately, they may not receive compensation for the extra workload.
Why is this happening?
Worker shortages, rising costs, and the prospect of recession have employers selecting to "quietly" delegate responsibilities to existing employees instead of putting time and money into new ones. This could range from minor tasks to major shifts in departments. For the overzealous employee eager to expand their resume, it may seem promising. It can bring new engagement to your workdays as you learn new things and improve upon yourself. However, keep in mind that there are two sides to every coin. Quiet hiring could improve your work life just as easily as it could harm it.
What does quiet hiring mean in the lawyer landscape?
Being a lawyer is one of the most stressful careers out there. With those billable hours, it's easy to fall into the trap of overworking yourself. It may be in your blood to rise to the challenge of new responsibilities, but you should proceed with caution. Your clients deserve to have ample time devoted to their cause. Each case deserves prominent attention to detail. If you have too much piled on your back, your work could suffer--or worse, you could experience burnout.
However, you might not get a say. A lawyer shortage could be on the horizon as young lawyers eye careers with a better work-life balance. An uptick in clients desperate for services could lead to heavier workloads across the board as law firms struggle to keep up with demand. In this economy, no one is safe from the effects of this worker shortage.
How do you make quiet hiring work as a strategy?
If you are an employer who is leaning into quiet hiring, you need to be ready to reward those who take on new responsibilities. Extra work with zero compensation can lead to bitter feelings and low morale. Your hard-working employee may start looking towards greener pastures if they feel taken advantage of. The next thing you know, you're left with a hole in your workforce--which means you have to choose between hiring a replacement or spiraling even deeper into the "quiet hiring" domino effect.
To ensure that doesn't happen, make sure you're including your staff in the conversation and the decision to reallocate or add responsibilities. Maximize your employee's skillsets by giving them tasks that will align with their strengths. Adjust their compensation accordingly while keeping in mind that raises are less expensive than new hires!
If you are an employee, you too can make quiet hiring work for you. An expanded skillset raises your value. If you excel at your new tasks, use this as leverage for a promotion, a raise, or a bonus. If that's not in the budget, perhaps you could work out a different deal: for example, flexible hours or more opportunity for work-from-home. Make time to sit down with your boss and have a serious conversation. If employee retention is important to them, they should hear you out. If they can't give you that respect or repeatedly ignore your requests, then it's time to seek that respect elsewhere.
Throughout all of this, make a point to keep an eye on your work-life balance and if these new responsibilities will have a negative impact on your mental health. Nothing is worth sacrificing your health.
It's predicted that quiet hiring will hit our workplaces hard in the coming year. Quiet quitting could become a thing of the past as workers must meet their new responsibilities head on. Whether you're an employer or an employee, it's imperative to know how to best handle it and make it work for you if that time ever comes.