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Quiet quitting and quiet hiring: Master both for an energized workforce

Elizabeth Manso
Elizabeth Manso
Elizabeth Manso is the president and owner of Brigade and a QuickBooks ProAdvisor. She founded Brigade in 2008 to empower entrepreneurs and business owners with the insights and knowledge they need to crush their goals and achieve extraordinary success. A licensed CPA with over 20 years of experience as a public accountant, Elizabeth has extensive experience helping business leaders in real estate, healthcare, legal, consulting, dry cleaning, construction and not-for-profit organizations transform their businesses.

Quiet quitting and quiet hiring—two trends at opposite ends of what it takes to build an efficient, engaged, productive workforce. From my experience, HR leaders need to master both for the benefit of their entire organization.

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How can you effectively prevent quiet quitting while also leveraging quiet hiring? It’s all about building a strong culture, providing energized working conditions and implementing a solid recruitment strategy. Before exploring how you can develop your own plan, first, let’s look at the definitions of quiet quitting and quiet hiring:

Quiet quitting is a recent phenomenon defined by staff members opting to do the bare minimum to get by in their jobs while still collecting full compensation.

Quiet hiring is the practice of not using traditional job posts and public channels to recruit staff. This has been our firm’s go-to recruitment strategy since we began 15 years ago.

Combat quiet quitting with a strong culture

Hiring challenges impact all businesses, regardless of size, industry and location. Case in point, data from the Intuit QuickBooks Accountant Technology Survey shows that 90% of accountants have experienced hiring challenges over the past year. Quiet quitting and overall employee disengagement are trends that feed into the challenge of hiring engaged staff. To remedy these challenges, over a third (36%) of the survey respondents identified mentoring younger professionals as key to remaining competitive and retaining employees.

Last year, the quiet quitting trend hit a problematic peak across a wide variety of organizations, especially those with more traditional structures. This trend will likely continue indefinitely and potentially widen in its scope. To combat quiet quitting, it’s important to address the underlying patterns fueling this trend:

  1. Outdated approaches to creating and managing company culture and
  2. Challenges related to employee recruitment and retention.

The QuickBooks study referenced above, which surveyed 2,000 accounting professionals in the United States, showed that 94% of the participants reported a continued decline in new talent entering the profession. In addition, another 89% of participants faced challenges in hiring individuals with over five years of experience. These statistics show us that the present challenges are not only a result of outdated approaches and culture but also contribute to the difficulties in hiring talent.

So, how can leaders in human resources be proactive in their approach to reducing and responding to quiet quitting? From my perspective, it’s a balance between nurturing a great team and taking decisive action when you realize a quiet quitting situation is beyond repair.

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My belief is that in order to mitigate the damage a quiet quitter has on your business, you must act swiftly to stop the pain from spreading to other employees and areas of the company. This is where mentoring your team comes in. To illustrate this point, I’ll share a couple of recent examples I’ve experienced.

Unique, flexible approaches to quiet quitting

My firm is 100% remote and has been since 2018. I’ve spent the past several years cultivating a culture of high performance and high rewards for my team.

I’ve accomplished a high-performance culture through a mentorship program that drives higher levels of:

  • Engagement
  • Goal attainment
  • Transparency between teams and management
  • Clear professional and personal growth
  • Employee retention

However, even with the successes of our mentorship program, the topic of quiet quitting remains a challenge. We’re a relatively small team with aggressive growth targets. There’s no room for quiet quitting. When there’s a disengaged team member, I’ve learned through experience that it’s best to hire slow and fire fast.

In one case, I hired a new bookkeeper and, after monitoring her performance and output (I use software to monitor employees’ time and activity on their computer), for two weeks, it was clear she wasn’t giving 100% effort. Rather than let the situation cost us time and money, we parted ways as soon as I realized it wasn’t a good fit.

At the other end of the spectrum, one remote team member, who had been with us for five years, began making errors and not performing at the level we knew they were capable of. After much coaching and evaluation of the situation, which appeared to be the result of this employee’s move to a different country, we gave them 90 days’ notice to find a new position plus a severance package.

I wish these situations had a different outcome. However, my priority is to retain and encourage those on my team who are highly motivated to meet their performance goals based on the work they do, which results in quarterly and annual bonuses based on meeting and exceeding their goals.

These experiences are key learning opportunities. For HR leaders in similar situations, it certainly strengthens the resolve to ensure your company’s culture is conducive to attracting and retaining the best talent. This leads us to the flipside of quiet quitting: quiet hiring.

Quiet hiring: It takes a team to build the right team

Since our firm started 15 years ago, quiet hiring has been a key recruitment strategy. I strongly encourage my team to recommend new hires from within their personal and professional networks. They receive incentives after the 90-day introductory period when a referral becomes a valued team member.

We also recently used a recruitment agency to help us “quietly” look for talent. The key here is to make it crystal clear what qualities and experience are necessary. To do this, I recommend a tool called The Predictive Index, which allows hiring managers to grasp a solid understanding of how a potential candidate may fit into a role. It may add some expense upfront, but it’s worth it in the long run compared to the cost of team turnover.

Mentoring team members, especially during their first few months at the company, is another strategy I recommend to recruit and retain top talent. At my firm, we provide incentives based on performance and a new client bonus, so team members are motivated to fit a new client into their roster and have an impact on our firm’s overall growth. We also have quarterly bonuses based on team performance as well as annual bonuses based on tenure.

In my experience, being proactive and incorporating mentoring, goal setting and incentives into your employee engagement, retention and recruitment strategy will pay dividends in the future through reduced costs of turnover and lost productivity. Whether or not you’ve already experienced quiet quitting or implemented quiet hiring in your organization, having a plan to hire slow and fire fast is key.