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Employer’s Guide: When Should You Give a Promotion to an Employee?

Kevin Kerl
Thu, Dec 26, 2019

There are many benefits to promoting employees from within your organization. You know their quality of work and how they fit into your company culture. Promotions also motivate employee productivity and loyalty. And it’s cheaper than recruiting externally. 

Employers should make employee promotions a priority, but they also should be done right to be effective. Many managers struggle to know when it is appropriate to reward an employee with a promotion. 

If you are wondering when it is the right time to promote an employee, here are some signs to look for.

8 Signs an Employee Should be Promoted

1. They are ready for a new challenge.

Promotion requires taking on additional responsibilities. If you have an employee who asks for more challenging projects and frequently takes the initiative with successful results, they are a great candidate for a promotion. 

Giving them new opportunities to develop skills will keep them more engaged and productive.

2. They are already doing higher-level work.

They’re the employee who can take over for you when you have an emergency or step into a gap after an organizational change. Or maybe they have underutilized skills and knowledge in their current role that could benefit the company when paired with more responsibility and authority. 

If you have an employee who could do more or already is doing more than their job description, consider promoting them to a role that better uses their talents.

3. They have been with the company long enough to prove themselves. 

Seniority itself isn't a reason to promote, but seniority with merit is. If an employee has been with the company long enough to see that they are a consistently high performer and valuable team member, it may be time to reward their contributions. 

Longtime employees who do good work eventually look for incentives to stay. You can earn their loyalty and retain that talent by awarding promotions. 

4. They have excellent interpersonal skills.

Not all promotions are for leadership roles, but they can lead to management eventually. Thus you should consider an employee's interpersonal skills before promoting them. 

How do they communicate and collaborate with colleagues and superiors? Do they get along well with others? Someone who shows leadership potential now is a great candidate for a promotion.

5. They are a problem solver.

An employee who routinely solves problems on the job shows initiative, accountability, and big-picture thinking. They have to be able to understand their role and how it relates to the company’s goals as a whole in order to do that kind of critical thinking. 

That’s someone capable of benefiting the company. A promotion rewards them for that kind of dedication and helps retain their talents longer.

6. They demonstrate real value to the company.

Every employee contributes in their own small way, but some employees really stand out due to the ways they benefit their employer. 

An employee who demonstrably brings in profits, saves money, or makes improvements or other benefits deserves growth opportunities and recognition. A promotion gives employees like this more room to expand their impact and bring more value to your organization.

7. There's room in the budget. 

Technically, promotions don't have to come with a pay raise, but they should. That being said, sometimes if a raise isn't in the budget, neither is a promotion. In that case, you need to have a frank conversation with your employee about the timeline in which a promotion will be possible. 

If the company is experiencing some financial instability, it's not a good time to offer anyone a promotion, and they should be reading the situation and not ask for one.

8. They ask for a promotion.

If an employee approaches you for a promotion and all other signs indicate they are deserving of one, it’s the perfect time to make that change. 

An individual who asks for a promotion and can make an excellent case for how their advancement benefits the company is an individual worth investing in. They have aspirations and motivation to do good work for you. Reward their dedication and contributions with this opportunity for development. 

Related: A Recruiter's Guide to Promotions


Often employers see promotions as a benefit to be stingy with, but when appropriately given, a promotion can be another way to collaborate with a high-performing employee. By giving them more responsibility and authority, you are putting them to better use and giving them room to grow and contribute more to your business. 

While a higher salary and better title are great rewards for past achievements, ultimately promoting employees is about creating an environment of growth in your company that benefits everyone.

Do you need help attracting and keeping the best remote talent in your business? We can help. Contact us now for a consultation.

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