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Promoting staff from within is more than simply raising salaries, giving out new job titles, or loading on added responsibility. It’s about recognising potential, nurturing talent, and acknowledging areas for improvement.

But whilst deciding to promote from an existing pool of talent may save you time and money in the short term, it is important to consider if this is what will most benefit your business. Is any of your existing team right for the role? Do they have the skills, dedication, or capacity to grow into the position earmarked for them?

Finding the right personnel fit can be a difficult balancing act, and even if you do all your homework, there is no guarantee that you’ll get it right every time. But there are several key questions you can ask yourself to ensure you make the right choice for your business and your team;


1. Will failing to offer promotion impact job satisfaction?

The annual Employee Retention Report has consistently found that dissatisfaction due to lack of career development is the primary reason for people to leave their current roles. In fact, in the 2020 report, it was stated that 78% of the reasons employees quit their jobs in 2019 could have been prevented by their employer, with growth and development a critical component in a person’s desire to stay.

This tells us that if we want to keep good team members, we need to ensure that their career aspirations are listened to and acted upon. Regular one-to-one’s and appraisals are crucial to this as it enables the business to define a clear pathway for development and to better manage expectations on both sides.


2. Should length of service be taken into account?

When employees have been with a business for a certain length of time there becomes almost an expectation that promotions will be forthcoming should the opportunity arise.  But just because someone has been in their role for a while, does not mean that they will be the best person for the job. In fact studies in the US have shown that 56% of people believe often their peers are promoted too fast.

Consider if there were two individuals. One who’s been with you 2 years, and one who’s been in post for only 6 months. They both do the same job competently at present. But then the chance of a promotion becomes available.

It wouldn’t be uncommon for the employee with the longest service to expect a clear shot at that promotion. But that would be doing a disservice to them, the business, and the other candidate. And this is where Prevue Benchmarking comes in.

Asking competing candidates to undertake psychometric testing to better understand the qualities, strengths, and weaknesses of both of them from a professional and personal point of view should provide impartial guidance as to who is most suited to the role on offer. It may well be that this won’t be the longer-standing employee.

Whilst that may be upsetting to them at first, the clever thing with a benchmarking exercise such as this is that it will also highlight areas for improvement or development; allowing you to set clear objectives and formalise a pathway to future promotion. Which, as we’ve already discussed, is critical for ensuring employee satisfaction and retaining talent.


3. Should loyalty be rewarded with promotions?

Loyalty and experience are two very different things, and you should never promote employees purely because they have remained loyal to your business.

It is, however, important to recognise longstanding commitment or effort in other ways if employees are not currently exhibiting the appropriate skillset for promotion. The fact that they chose to stick with you rather than move elsewhere should be respected, especially when more than a quarter of employees report leaving a job because of a lack of recognition.

As such, you should find other ways to repay loyalty. Many businesses have employee recognition schemes that are designed specifically to reward employees for their loyalty or professional achievements in-between promotions with either financial or material recompense.

Formalising this kind of process gives employees something solid to work towards which isn’t solely based on the idea of promotion, and will ensure that they feel appreciated, thus maintaining employee satisfaction and boosting staff retention.


4. Is internal experience more valuable than external experience?

There is certainly something to be said about the experience gained whilst working for a company. Understanding a business’ values, processes, goals, and structure takes time. Existing employees are already ingrained in the culture of a company, in a way that it would take an external candidate years, making promotions more seamless and onboarding much easier.

A study by HR.com also found that external hires are 18% more likely to leave the business within 6 months because there just isn’t the same level of professional and personal attachment. However, there is a train of thought that by hiring externally you increase diversification in the workforce and bring fresh ideas and perspectives into the business.

Allowing yourself access to a bigger talent pool is especially important if you are looking for specific skills, but that does not mean that the internal team cannot develop those very same skills given the opportunity.

Ensuring that you invest in good and accurate assessments that regularly test the existing skillsets of your personnel should highlight burgeoning areas for professional development and ensure that you do not miss opportunities to support an employee’s growth and promote internally.

Of course, training can take time, and people learn at different speeds, so if your requirements are pressing then hiring externally may well be the best option to meet the business’ needs. However, undertaking professional assessments with both internal and external candidates should enable you to make an informed, data-backed decision without any residual sentimentality.


5. Is it more cost-effective to promote from within?

Oxford Economics and Unum research surmises that a business will spend an average of £5,433 replacing an existing employee, with the average cost of turnover per employee (earning approximately £25k) is £30,614. It will then take them up to 28 weeks to ‘get up to speed’ so that they are able to deliver at a similar level as the departing member of staff. The lesson here? Give your current workforce a reason to stay.

This means creating a culture of development and advancement wherever possible. Recognising and rewarding success, maintaining motivation, and showcasing that you are as committed to your team as they are to them. Regular appraisals, data-driven analysis of performance, professional benchmarking, and coaching, will all help to keep your employees happy, engaged, and driven to progress through the business.

Remember, a recruitment agency will charge you around 10-20% of a job’s annual salary, and that on average, an external candidate will be paid nearly 20% more than an internal employee who’s been promoted, and weigh that up against the costs of investing in your current team.

Advocating an ethos of progress through training, mentorship, as well as providing clear career plans can deliver remarkable advantages for your company. But nevertheless, it remains shrewd to balance out internal promotions with strategic external recruits as necessary.

The key here is undertaking a rigorous and methodical recruitment process that isn’t purely reliant on CVs or interviews, and that is where Coensus-hr can assist. We provide personal and skills assessments, applicant tracking, benchmarking and development tools that will ensure that businesses can make informed decisions on who to recruit, or promote, dependent upon your business’ requirements.

The time has gone when such potentially costly judgments have to be made based on an educated hunch, as the software is available to ensure that employers and recruiters have access to the bigger picture and can act upon it accordingly.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can revolutionise your recruitment and HR management solutions, please get in touch today and unlock the hidden potential in your personnel.