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‘Quiet hiring’, smart tech and internal mobility: talent strategies in 2023

By Aimee Pagano | Global head of talent acquisition



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January 27, 2023 | 8 min read

For our Predictions Deep Dive, VMLY&R’s Aimee Pagano argues that, if 2022 was dominated by headline trends like the ‘great resignation’ and ‘quiet quitting’, 2023 should be about focusing on the basics.

Two anchor-shaped charms

With major talent shifts over the last couple of years, VMLY&R says that 2023 must focus on retention / Milan Degraeve via Unsplash

It’s a new year. Out with the old and in with the new. When it comes to talent trends, while much is changing, a lot remains the same. How can ensure we are attracting and retaining talent to meet our business needs in 2023?

The great… what next?

Economic uncertainty is influencing many organizations to be more cautious about hiring, and people are hesitant to leave their jobs for new companies. 2022 was the year of the ‘great resignation,’ ‘the great reset,’ and ‘quiet quitting,’ with around 47 million people in the US quitting their jobs in the year leading up to February 2022 and the trend continuing from there.

Enter 2023, and the new trend is ‘quiet hiring’. While the term is new, the concept isn’t. It’s just another way to refer to internal mobility, tapping your talent pool to get the work done. This is an ideal solution when managed properly. It kills two (or more) birds with one stone, solving critical business needs quickly while controlling costs and contributing to career development and retention.

Technologically-enabled talent management

Resource management tools are critical to gauge utilization rates and skill sets of your talent base. Technology can help with posting opportunities on internal job boards for talent to see and apply; managing a pool of freelance flexible talent on demand across the organization; and leveraging talent insights around geography, company, and skill sets.

For example, should you hire a skill set in one market versus another based on where that talent exists? The key is to leverage talent intelligence through tools to help organizations meet their staffing needs, reduce costs, and improve efficiencies.

The new hybrid reality

It’s now proven that employees can be productive working remotely. But while experiencing the freedom of that arrangement, they can become disconnected from culture and belonging, and can miss out on critical learning opportunities and relationship building.

Gen Z talent coming up in their careers within a remote environment have missed out on developing valuable soft skills such as negotiation, networking and speaking confidently in front of crowds. The new normal has ushered in an era of hybrid workplaces as the norm with flexibility in ways of working, encouraging work-life integration (versus work-life balance).

Multicultural talent

Our business is moving toward mainstreaming multicultural marketing. The same must be done with talent. Efforts around diversity training, acquisition, and development should move from stand-alone silos, becoming the fabric of how we do things.

The classics stay true

Many tried-and-true basics of employee retention remain valuable, like communicating a clear and compelling employee value proposition (EVP) to show why it is special to be part of your organization. Set clear role expectations, KPIs, and goals so that employees know what is expected of them, what success looks like, and how they can develop their experiences and skills to move forward (laterally or upward) in their careers.

Build internal mobility through transparency about what opportunities exist in the company, and communicate on a regular basis with employees so they feel connected to the business purpose and their teams. Some businesses are calling these ‘stay interviews,’ but it’s basic good management to talk to your employees about how they are feeling: what’s going well, what’s not, what’s next, and how to get there. Give managers the tools to have those conversations productively.

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Retention is a recruitment strategy

Getting the basics right matters because, despite the trends du jour, these foundational things lead to connection between the organization and the employee, increasing retention. Retention, as they say, is a recruiting strategy; one of the top reasons employees leave an organization is lack of career development. Having a career map and an understanding of how to develop can change this. With the cost of turnover on average being 1.5x an annual salary (and with it taking one to three months to hire replacements), consider the cost avoidance of retaining employees.

Internal mobility is the key to retention, engagement, faster time to productivity and delivering talent on demand. There is a business need to find the best diverse talent, which can be achieved by tapping into our existing workforce. The advertising and marketing industry has a workforce of approximately 8.6 million people globally, 13% of which changed jobs in the last year. The top sources of new hires continue to come from within our industry, meaning that your leavers are going to competitors. Imagine the difference it would make if you retained those movers by advertising internal opportunities.

Many companies already have much of the talent needed to fill existing roles – they just need to ensure that high-performing talent stays within the organization. Although a healthy percentage of employees should be hired externally, ensuring the development of fresh new skills and more diverse talent, prioritizing internal talent can make it easy to find those opportunities and improve employee engagement.

Ultimately, in 2023, if we focus on getting the basics right (delivering amazing, connected employee experience and continuing to innovate), we can solve for the future of talent and impact our businesses in a positive way.

For more takes on the year ahead, by and about marketing agencies, check out our Agencies Predictions hub.

Agencies Brand Strategy Business Leadership

Content by The Drum Network member:


VML is a leading creative company that combines brand experience, customer experience, and commerce, creating connected brands to drive growth. VML is celebrated for its innovative and award-winning work for blue chip client partners including AstraZeneca, Colgate-Palmolive, Dell, Ford, Intel, Microsoft, Nestlé, The Coca-Cola Company, and Wendy's. The agency is recognized by the Forrester Wave™ Reports, which name WPP as a “Leader” in Commerce Services, Global Digital Experience Services, Global Marketing Services and, most recently, Marketing Measurement & Optimization. In addition, VML’s specialist health network, VML Health, is one of the world’s largest and most awarded health agencies. VML’s global network is powered by 30,000 talented people across 60-plus markets, with principal offices in Kansas City, New York, Detroit, London, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore, and Sydney.

VML is a WPP agency (NYSE: WPP). For more

information, please visit, and follow along on Instagram, LinkedIn, and X. #WeAreVML

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