Quiet Hiring: Opportunity or risk for Employer Branding?

80 percent of employees have already experienced the HR trend Quiet Hiring (Monster Survey, January 2023). 63 per cent see the process as an opportunity, 15 per cent are not ready for it and 27 per cent think of quitting if the employer deliberately forgoes external hiring and "quietly" redistributes the tasks of vacant positions to the existing workforce.

According to the Federal Employment Agency, workers were being sought for 761,000 jobs in September 2023 in Germany. Depending on the industry, it can take between 155 and 293 days to fill a vacancy. Some employers therefore rely on quiet hiring to save time and money. But beware, this HR trend not only brings opportunities, but also risks for your employer branding. We tell you how to use quiet hiring responsibly.

Quiet Hiring, Internal Mobility, or Talent Mobility – one can give different names to the HR practice that is currently being increasingly applied as a pragmatic solution to the skilled labor shortage. The market research specialist Gartner even sees Quiet Hiring as a work trend for 2023. The English term originates from personnel development and refers to the targeted upskilling of professional and personal skills of your employees. Essentially, it is about foregoing external hires for upcoming additional work. Additional tasks or positions that have become vacant are internally absorbed. The practice is to distribute open fields of tasks among existing employees or to initiate internal job changes or reorientations.How well this works in reality depends largely on the extent to which the "quiet hiring" is taken literally by the employer side.
Because no one likes to be quietly and secretly saddled with additional work.


Risks for Employer Branding through Quiet Hiring

The generation of baby boomers, which is gradually retiring, is leaving an ever-growing gap in the german labor market. Demographic development is continuously reducing the total population – from 84 million in 2023 to an expected 81.8 million in 2040 (Federal Statistical Office, status as of August 2023). The new generation of employees may not be as birth-strong as the previous ones, but their demand for work-life balance is more pronounced. Their willingness to commit to an employer is no longer as strong as in previous generations. Although employees in Germany stay with the same employer for an average of about 10 years, younger workers in their twenties and early thirties change jobs significantly more often: every two to three years, they seek new challenges. If the chemistry in the company is not right, even earlier. Ghosting in the application process is also not uncommon, and every HR department has already had experiences with cancelled job interviews or new hires not showing up.  

Therefore, employers are increasingly under pressure. The majority of companies see the skilled labor shortage as the biggest business risk of the future (Statista). Those who have successfully recruited talents want to keep them. Quiet Hiring as a recruitment trend can be counterproductive if this HR practice is not implemented professionally and thoughtfully.

Seven No-Gos in Quiet Hiring:

  1. Poor Communication
    27 percent of employees are unsettled when "quiet hiring" is practiced and suspect that their company is in financial trouble (Monster survey).41 percent perceive their company as poorly organized and lacking a genuine entrepreneurial vision. Those who do not openly address the process internally risk losing their image as a future-proof employer. And who wants to stay with a company that they consider to be "on the ropes"?
  2. Lack of Hiring Process
    The remaining workforce must permanently take on additional work or the tasks of vacant positions without the HR department or executives having discussions with them. So there is neither a contract extension nor (monetary) compensation. This should be a taboo from a labor law perspective alone. 16 percent of employees would only put up with this for a limited period of time. 15 percent would not quit solely because they are financially bound (Monster survey). In any case, satisfaction and productivity are likely to suffer significantly. There will also be negative effects on the mood in the company.
  3. Failure to Check Qualifications and References
    Even with Quiet Hiring, it must be ensured that the candidates are sufficiently qualified for the new tasks and can competently fill the new areas of activity. Otherwise, productivity suffers and overload occurs – in the worst case with work stoppages due to burnout or other stress-related illnesses. 50 percent of employees who have experienced Quiet Hiring felt that they lacked the expertise for the new spectrum of work (Monster survey).
  4. Excessive Discretion
    Those who do not talk about which positions are to be internally filled should not be surprised about a lack of applicants. However, if it is clear which position is open, colleagues can make recommendations and get involved in the search for candidates.
  5. Intransparent Processes
    If it is not clear how the company implements Quiet Hiring, it leads to mistrust and speculation. Is there even a proper selection process based on competencies, or does nepotism play a role in filling positions? Are tasks being pushed onto someone, or are others being promoted?
  6. Tunnel Vision
    Those who rely solely on internal recommendations risk stewing in their own juice unintentionally. Lack of diversity can slow down innovations, affect teams, and weaken corporate culture. Because if everyone agrees, is there still a need for further development?
  7. Lack of Training
    Quiet Hiring requires all parties to be alert and willing to learn. Both the HR department, involved executives, and the selected candidates require training so that Quiet Hiring can be used effectively and ethically.

If Quiet Hiring is not operated professionally – especially if transparent standard procedures are missing and communicative support leaves much to be desired – this recruiting model poses considerable risks. On the one hand, employees experience the job trend as dangerous for their mental health; on the other hand, the employer is increasingly losing its attractiveness. Attributes such as work-life balance and caring no longer seem authentic. All of these are knockout criteria against the backdrop of the skilled labor shortage.


Quiet Hiring as an Opportunity for Employer Branding

The advantages of Quiet Hiring for companies are obvious. Since the personnel budget is not particularly flexible in economically difficult times, HR managers look for ways to reduce costs. Quiet Hiring saves costs for recruiting and onboarding. In addition, existing employees are familiar with the workflows, which shortens the training period and leads to productivity more quickly. Investments in further training are also likely to be cheaper than with new hires. Overall, Quiet Hiring accelerates the entire hiring process.

So much for the measurable economic aspect. However, Quiet Hiring can also create opportunities for employer branding when actions are taken ethically and responsibly.

Seven Opportunities of Quiet Hiring for Employer Branding:

  1. Promotion and Training
    63 percent of employees see Quiet Hiring as an opportunity to acquire new skills. 39 percent rate this HR practice as a career advancement opportunity (Monster survey). Promote your talents by specifically expanding qualifications through mentoring programs and training. Anyone who is to take on new tasks must also be able to cope with them.
  2. Improvement of Employee Retention
    When "silent hiring" is accompanied by an internal promotion, your talents feel appreciated. As an employer, you support individual development.
  3. Performance-Oriented Corporate Culture
    When employees have the opportunity to rise within the company based on their performance and skills, you send the message that good work is rewarded.
  4. Strengthening of Team Spirit and Corporate Identity
    A supervisor from within the company is accepted and supported differently than a new external addition, who first has to build a basis of trust. He carries the corporate culture coherently across various leadership levels, which he already knows from his own experience. This strengthens your employer brand.
  5. Increase in Employee Satisfaction
    Filling open positions internally offers opportunities for advancement and the possibility for internal reorientation. This increases employee satisfaction because a once-chosen career path does not represent a dead end.
  6. Reduction of Turnover
    You reduce the migration of core competencies, as your employees can make a career internally and do not have to move to the competition.
  7. Quick Filling of Key Positions
    Quiet Hiring can be used to strategically prepare for and build up the succession of key positions. You prevent long vacancy periods and present yourselves as a company that works proactively and effectively and plans ahead in personnel matters.


Practice Tip: Responsible Quiet Hiring  

Whether Quiet Hiring holds more opportunities or risks for your company depends heavily on the internal implementation of the process. You can strengthen your employer brand if the processes are transparent and internal communication is professionally supported. If you fall into the no-go trap, you will fuel Quiet Quitting and lose talent.

 Ten tips for responsible Quiet Hiring:

  1. Show Perspectives and Opportunities
    Show realistic professional perspectives that come with new areas of responsibility.
  2. Recognize Potential
    Promote potential and don’t just look for stopgap solutions.
  3. Promote Development
    Offer development and further training opportunities so that new tasks can be fulfilled.
  4. Live Mental Health and Duty of Care
    Ensure that there is no overload. Support through training, feedback talks and carefully clarify expectations: from you and from your talents.
  5. Rely on Exchange
    Ask your employees whether they are available for Quiet Hiring and don't impose anything on them. Some talents may be bound by their circumstances (part-time, care work, ...) while others may still have capacities.
  6. Create a Balance
    Show your appreciation and trust through appropriate compensation and adjusted remuneration.
  7. Explain Strategy
    Do not give the impression that you are economically distressed or poorly organized and are committing a desperate act with Quiet Hiring.
  8. Establish a Process
    Introduce a comprehensible process for Quiet Hiring that is transparent. This way you do not give the impression of nepotism and enable active applications from qualified and interested talents.
  9. Adjust Contracts
    If the areas of responsibility of your employees change and new areas of responsibility are added, existing employment contracts should be amended accordingly. Note the duration of the change and any salary increases. This reflects your professionalism.
  10. Communicate Transparently
    Once a Quiet Hiring process is successfully completed, inform your colleagues about the change in areas of responsibility. This prevents information gaps and promotes productive work in the newly created structures.



The extent to which the HR trend concept of Quiet Hiring affects your employer image from an employer branding perspective depends heavily on how your internal process runs.
The term’s history can be linked to the year 2018 when the term „Quiet Quitting“ became popular. In contrast to Quiet Hiring, employees with the Quiet Quitting attitude are reluctant to take on more responsibility, instead doing their work by the book and are not keen on working overtime. And while we’re on the subject of buzzwords associated with the English adjective 'Quiet': „Quiet Firing“ is a phenomenon that is also increasingly being discussed on social media. Here, employees are not officially dismissed, but are instead sidelined professionally.
Employees are currently confronted with various trends and leadership styles: targeted development, intentional over-challenging or under-challenging. All of this affects the mood in the company and the attractiveness and credibility of your employer brand.

Our advice:

Move away from "Quiet"! Internal communication is essential in times of economic and political uncertainty, private challenges, and economic constraints to keep your talents fully informed and promote employee retention. In this way, you build a strong and reliable employer brand with an attractive corporate culture that can stand its ground in the War for Talent.

As a full-service communication agency with a focus on employer branding, we are happy to advise you on all topics related to building a strong employer brand and implementing transparent internal communication.

Contact us at any time:

Katrin Jetter
Senior Consultant
0711/ 925388-10

[email protected]






Epplestraße 225
70567 Stuttgart