Slang dictionary

quiet hiring

[ kwahy-it hahyuhr-ing]

What is quiet hiring?

Quiet hiring is an informal term for the practice in which an employer fills workforce gaps in ways other than hiring new full-time employees, such as by training and/or shifting existing employees into different roles or using independent contractors to cover certain roles and responsibilities. 

The term implies that this is done secretly or simply without being explicit about the intent behind such changes. The practice is often interpreted as a way for the employer to reduce or avoid costs. 

Specifics vary, but actions thought to be used as part of practices considered quiet hiring include training existing employees in new skills, moving current employees into different roles, or using independent contractors to cover certain jobs and responsibilities.

Awareness of the term quiet hiring increased as a result of discussion in media reports. Although the term may be used by employers, it is more often used by workplace observers, such as journalists and economists.

Related words

antiwork, income inequality, Women's History Month, quiet quitting

Where does quiet hiring come from?

dark aqua text "quiet hiring" on light aqua background

The term quiet hiring emerged in early 2023 in response to business trends at the time, when many US companies were laying off employees and cutting costs in anticipation of a predicted recession. Many businesses attempted to reduce costs by using current employees or contractors to cover essential roles and responsibilities.

The term quiet hiring seems to have been inspired by and modeled on the earlier term quiet quitting, which refers to the practice of a worker “quietly” or subtly doing only the bare minimum in their job (without actually quitting). Just as quiet quitting doesn’t involve actually quitting, quiet hiring doesn’t involve actually hiring full-time employees. In both terms, the word quiet is a reference to the secretiveness or subtlety of the actions. 

The term quiet firing emerged around the same time. Some criticize the terms quiet hiring, quiet firing, and quiet quitting as unnecessary buzzwords that refer to tactics used long before the emergence of terms for them.

Examples of quiet hiring

So Quiet Hiring is just asking people to do more work without more money, huh?
@mikeybigshow, January 8, 2023
However, many economists still think a recession could happen in 2023. And companies are starting to turn to quiet hiring to trim costs ahead of a potential economic downturn.
Anuz Thapa, CNBC, February 2023

Who uses quiet hiring?

The term quiet hiring is informal. It may be used by employers in some cases, but it’s primarily used by workers and outside observers of the workplace, such as journalists and economists. Some people criticize the term as unnecessary due to referring to a longstanding practice. 

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This is not meant to be a formal definition of quiet hiring like most terms we define on, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of quiet hiring that will help our users expand their word mastery.