Quiet Promotion Could Be Worse Than Quiet Quitting

HCM specialist CRS Technologies says an emerging trend is making waves in HR as companies look to cut costs, streamline operations and scale back on bonuses and other forms of recognition.

More businesses are resorting to piling on more work for conscientious and diligent employees, and skimping on rewards. The trend, labelled quiet promotion, is the latest to emerge in post-COVID markets and is a stark reminder that employers are struggling to achieve balance in this new normality.

It’s also something that human capital management specialist CRS Technologies is keeping track of.

The company is the vanguard of human resource best practices, standards and compliance with legislation in South Africa and other countries on the continent.

So its radar picks up on existing and emerging trends in order to inform and empower its market to better handle trends, including the great resignation, quiet quitting and, of course, quiet promotion.

“It’s quite a deceptive term actually,” says Nicol Myburgh, Head: CRS Technologies HCM Business Unit. “People see the word promotion and it triggers a positive response, but in reality the term is used to describe a practice by employers who load more work responsibilities on to a specific hard-working employee, but keep pretty quiet about any reward or compensation or remuneration. So, in actual fact these employers are breaching the fundamental and understood terms of what constitutes promotion in the workforce – an HR process that’s been around pretty much since trade and commerce matured in world economies.”

Under normal circumstances, a promotion is earned through consistent good work, making targets and/or advancing the business by taking initiative. It comes after careful review of KPIs and the employees’ success rate, dedication, diligence and commitment. It is rarely given quickly or as an afterthought.

Some HR experts liken the practice of quiet promotion as a ‘punishment’ of sorts of successful and driven employees. These experts believe the situation more often than not leads to burnout, resentment and a drop in morale.

“So instead of benefiting from these hard-working staff and reciprocating in the form of promotion, bonuses or other methods of reward, these businesses actually lose staff and increase their staff turnover. In an economy that is under strain and in industries and sectors that can ill-afford to lose quality talent, quiet promotion makes absolutely no sense whatsoever,” adds Myburgh.

CRS Technologies warns that the situation has a lot to do with the quality of people put in positions of power or authority.

Myburgh adds, “It really is a matter of choosing the right people for the right position at the right time. Another major factor that is helping to grow these trends is communication. In many instances the employee has not been direct about his or her expectations, and/or the employer has not informed candidates about the realistic job prospects, company policy and other factors that could impact on performance-based remuneration or reward.”

CRS Technologies agrees with the HR assessments made by many in the field who urge employers and employees to make their position clear as quickly as possible, negotiate terms and come to some kind of agreement.

“Doing so lays down the framework which can serve as a foundation to sort out disagreements and facilitate meaningful and mutually beneficial communication,” Myburgh concludes.


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