The career ladder: unchanged decade by decade. Employees start at the bottom (or higher up, in some cases), and continue to climb as their skills and knowledge are honed and increase.
But it appears that, as things stand today, what may accompany a promotion that moves someone onto the next rung of the ladder, is not necessarily a bank account boost.
A survey by recruitment specialists Robert Half UK has highlighted that a promotion doesn’t necessarily equal a pay rise. Of the financial professionals surveyed, a staggering 94% stated that they would move a team member up with no extra remuneration.
Whilst the economy may influence such a decision, more so post-Brexit, the main reason seemed to be a desire to ‘test the waters’; employers and managers want to ensure the employee in question can perform in their new position before talking money and benefits. Says Wendy Komac, a career coach, “Confronting such an offer ten years ago, you would be suspicious of the company's financial position. Now, you accept the offer, prove you can do the job, then you get the money."
If cash-flow is an issue, some employers are using promotions as motivational tools and as an incentive. Also cited was a perception that some employees are perhaps too highly paid to begin with.
If a pay rise is requested outside of a promotional opportunity, whilst it may not be granted, other benefits and particularly training perks are often agreed upon, the latter boosting the individual’s employability and chances of promotion. Though a pay rise has traditionally been offered at the point of promotion, it’s not necessarily written in stone. Disappointing it may be to some, but is it legal to withhold such a financial reward?
Most contracts’ job descriptions can be altered at the employer’s will, so, in theory, an employee can be asked to take on new duties or responsibilities without a formal claim to being paid any extra. If handled well, it could be an acceptable scenario, that nothing extra is offered in challenging financial landscapes and job markets – if the employee is made aware of the reasons why. A change of job title could prove the solution, so that if and when the employee moves elsewhere, they can at least establish themselves on the ladder at the same – or a higher – point.
Many promotions really are a step up the ladder, rather than more work through different glasses. Some employers may believe that moving a worthy employee upwards is better value financially (and recruiting someone to take their place), than filling in the higher position – whether their belief is right or wrong. And If that valued employee isn’t fully qualified for every aspect of their new job, perhaps it’s easy to see any training to fill these gaps as a definite perk. It certainly saves the employee the cost of funding their own development; in that instance, isn’t that a financial benefit, even if it’s attained differently?
The study also showed that whilst 30% of employees would be happy with alternative benefits such as those described, 27% would immediately look for another position. Phil Sheridan, Senior Managing Director at Robert Half UK, admitted the promotion first strategy was ‘a risk’. He advised companies to confirm the new position then address salary and benefits at a six-month review.
There’s no doubt that the job market constantly evolves. This survey shows, if nothing else, that what was the norm twenty years ago doesn’t automatically pan out the same way today.