The psychology of workplace promotion
What is workplace promotion?
Workplace promotion, sometimes referred to as workplace advancement, is characterized as the advancement of an individual into higher ranks or levels of employment within a particular company or business. There are generally considered to be two types of workplace promotions. The first type of promotion is a monetary promotion, which only involves an increase in pay. These promotions may occur annual or on a consistent basis for every employee or every employee within a select, qualified group. The second type of promotion, more commonly sought after and desired, is an advancement promotion. This type of promotion is characterized by a new position in a higher level within the company, which often comes with additional benefits such as a higher salary, medical benefits, additional hours or better selective hours, as well as benefits such as vacation time, personal leave and more. Advancement promotions are usually high lucrative and competitive.
The logistics of workplace promotion in a company can be complex. Monetary promotions are generally considered to be the more calculative of the two promotions, since monetary promotions are often based solely on data figures such as hours worked, sales made, marks or negative comments on reports, etc. When someone meets specific criteria—X amount of hours worked, Y amount of sales made, etc.—then they will receive a monetary promotion. Advancement promotion, on the other hand, is much more complex. Most companies, when they are thinking about advancement promotion being applied to an employee or multiple employees, will look at a range of different factors. These factors will include experience, specific quality of work, qualifications such as degrees or other schooling—even factors such as age, gender location or relationships with other employees, for positive or negative, are taken into consideration when advancement promotion is put on the table.
Does workplace promotion increase productivity and quality of work?
The importance of promotion, both monetary and advancement is often overlooked within the realm of workplace psychology. However, research on the effects of promotion on quality of workmanship has indicated that promotions can have a positive—or negative—effect on the workplace both individually, as a group, and as a whole.
Individuals may be affected by monetary and advancement promotions in several ways. The most overlooked and yet most common reaction to promotions in the concept of “hope.” Hope, in this context, is hope for the possibility of a promotion—monetary or advancement. When there is the possibility that someone may receive a promotion, especially an advancement promotion which brings a relatively incredible amount of benefits, than an individual is generally considered to be more likely to work harder and produce more quality work than without this hope of promotion. The psychology behind this behavior is that, when someone believes they can achieve something—regardless of whether or not the facts agree with their belief—then they will work harder towards that ‘something.’ In the context of the workplace, this means that they will worker harder in order to impress their superiors into considering them for a promotion. This behavior occurs even if an employee would not actually be up for that promotion due to one or more factors—but it is vital that the “hope” for advancement not be quashed by superiors or others informing an employee that they, in fact, would not actually be seriously considered for a promotion.
As a group, monetary or advancement promotions can have a range of different effects on the workplace. The resulting effect may largely depend on the individual psychology of each person within the group, as well as their personality and their personal desire for advancement promotion or another form of promotion. Research often diverges into two main, generalized reactions to the possibility of promotion when applied to a group—that is, that one person within the group may receive the promotion, while the others will not. The first general reaction is one of increased productivity and quality of work due to a healthy response to competition and, as with the individual response, hope to the possibility of advancement promotion. In this scenario, the individuals within the group will work harder; more productivity and the company will see an overall increase in the quality of work provided by a business. This is because each individual is attempting to outshine the other and, in doing so, each individual has a better work performance. This first scenario is highly desired by employers because it is often a way to increase performance in a significant way without having exerted company resources.
The second common scenario encountered after the implementation of a possibility of promotion is a negative scenario which results in poorer—or at least intercepted—work productivity for some or even all of the group. In this scenario, the competition for the advancement promotion results in negative social workplace behavior, such as gossip or even interfering with another individual’s work performance in an attempt to sabotage their ability for advancement, while increasing their own chance to be awarded a promotion. In this scenario, unhealthy competition results in behavior which can affect the workplace individually, as a group, or even as a whole. Employers can attempt to avoid or curtail the second scenario by ensuring that they consistently monitor workplace behavior and implement warnings or even punishments for negative social behavior—especially during peak times when it may occur, such as during a time period where a promotion is being considered.
As a whole, the possibility for promotion is considered to have a generally positive reaction on the productivity and quality of work from employees at all levels. The key to ensuring that the reaction to the possibility of advancement promotion or monetary promotion is positive is to ensure that monetary promotions are applied fairly and consistently and that every employee feels that they have the potential to advance within the company, even if that is not necessarily the reality of the situation.