As ‘quiet hiring’ becomes more prominent amid a challenging labour market, communication and incentivization are key considerations for employers, says Janet Candido, founder and principal of human resources consultancy Candido Consulting Group.

“It can be a great growth opportunity for an employee, whether it’s presented as a stretch assignment or just an upscaling opportunity. You need to present it as something that is a benefit to both parties, . . . not by saying, ‘Oh, lucky you, I’m going to give you a chance to do [more work].”

Candido defines ‘quiet hiring’ as the redeployment of current employees to different duties. While it isn’t a new phenomenon, the term has grown in popularity as a counterpoint to ‘quiet quitting’ — when employees perform their duties exactly according to their work contract — and as a method for employers to cover workplace responsibilities amid hiring challenges.

Read: ‘Quiet quitting’ a rallying cry for more focus on work-life balance, employee engagement

“If [employers] have a vacancy, it can take weeks or several months to fill. A lot of companies are also struggling financially — they’re still recovering from the impacts of the [coronavirus] pandemic and hiring [a new employee] can be expensive. Even if you [redistribute the workload] and give the existing employees an increase in salary, it will still be cheaper than hiring somebody new.”

However, with new or increased duties, employers must also take steps to safeguard against employee burnout, she says. “You have to be careful that you’re not doubling the person’s workload. Employers need to look at what their current workers are doing and say, ‘OK, I’m going to add five hours of work to your week, so are there three or four hours that I can take away from things that are not important right now?’”

‘Quiet hiring’ can also act as a retention strategy for both underperformers and overperformers alike, says Candido. “You may have a good employee and they’re trying really hard, [but] they’re just not able to do the job. You can move them into a different role and give them some training. That also works on the other hand, where you’ve got an employee who’s really ambitious and you really don’t want to lose them, so it’s a really good retention technique to offer them opportunities to try something new.”

Read: Focusing on employee experience helping build new, improved work culture