How Internal Promotion and Recognition Drive Retention


How often do you remember to praise your employees? If you’re working with long-​standing team members who fall into the Gen X or older age groups, the lack of frequent recognition may not be an issue. Younger employees, though, expect regular recognition and internal promotion.

Frequent Internal Promotion Drives Retention

Despite so many tech leaders announcing business restructuring and layoffs, the job market remains strong. Your Gen Y and Gen Z employees are frequent targets of recruiters. And if they see an appealing offer, they’ll leave you.

Why are so many employees willing to change jobs? Gallup recently surveyed employees about what they value in their current position. The researchers observed that Gen X and older employees typically hold the management positions. They’re in a position to establish workplace rules and practices. These managers also feel more confident in their roles. For example, reports Gallup, 10% of baby boomers never want recognition from their immediate boss or someone else in a leadership position.

Younger employees hold a far different attitude. 78% of workers born after 1989, this group includes Gen Z and some Gen Y folks, want to hear praise a few times a month. This finding makes sense. These team members are just starting out in their career. They’re not sure what level of output meets expectations. They also may not be sure of how to exceed expectations. But if they don’t hear anything, their level of engagement and loyalty will drop.

Gallup analysts recommend, “It’s wise to err on the side of providing more recognition,” and that “the real magic is in discovering how each employee wants to be recognized.” You can use psychometric assessments to determine whether internal promotion, the assignment of a key project or a big raise will improve retention.

Manager Attitudes Regarding Promotion and Recognition

The Gallup study revealed one unfortunate aspect about employees who don’t crave recognition. These employees are also apt to “give recognition less frequently to others.” They may feel that since it’s not important to them, it shouldn’t be highly valued by other employees. That attitude will do little to increase retention in today’s labor market. Our research shows that over 27% of sales professionals have left a company because they felt nobody cared about them.

Managers can show their concern about employees by praising them, both publicly and privately. While employees appreciate praise, they want to see other forms of recognition, especially with respect to internal promotion. As Gallup analysts point out, employees who are just starting their careers can’t always connect the dots on what’s necessary to move into a leadership role. Strong managers who take the time to discuss various career paths and who offer team members opportunities are on the right track. When you assign an employee to a project that is suited to their interests or strengths, based on their psychometric assessments, explain your plans. Maybe you want to allow them the chance to work with a different team or to use a different skill set.

Making them aware of your goal to develop them professionally expands their thinking. They’ll realize you’re helping them get to the next step in their career. When a recruiter calls, your eager employee may decide to stick with your organization instead.

Developing a Culture of Recognition

The burden of recognition doesn’t have to fall only on managers. Organizations can encourage team members to recognize peers, even in another department. Using an internal channel on a chat tool works well. Employees appreciate being praised by peers and want to raise their identity in the company. As they grow more comfortable calling attention to the good work of others, their relationships with other team members strengthens. Employees will find it more difficult to leave for another company in that type of culture.

If you haven't been using internal promotion and recognition to improve retention and corporate culture, start thinking about how to roll out these programs.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.

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Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.