Why Workers Are More Likely to Quit After Being Promoted

By: Anneken Tappe · September 07, 2023 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

Promotion Paradox

Employers typically issue promotions as a way to recognize employees on consistent hard work and encourage them to continue on that path for years to come. Ironically, promotions can actually have the opposite effect: New data from payroll services provider ADP (ADP) shows employees are more likely to jump ship right after receiving a promotion.

Climbing off the Corporate Ladder

Nearly one-third, 29% of people, quit their jobs within one month of receiving a promotion, compared to just 18% for employees who were not recently promoted, according to ADP’s analysis of the job histories of more than 1.2 million U.S. workers between 2019 and 2022. This effect was the most pronounced for jobs with lower entry requirements.

Since extending a promotion is one of the main tools used to inspire employee loyalty, this statistic may be alarming for managers and recruiters.

That said, not every worker with a promotion in the pocket is about to bid their company adieu. While departures are more likely in the first month after moving up the ranks, this effect wanes over time, according to ADP.

Why Workers Leave

The decision to leave a job is highly personal, and the reasons why workers move on can invite speculation. However, some HR experts suggest that a promotion sets workers up for a better new job: A significantly expanded job description or meaningful title change may open new doors.

Additionally, accompanying pay raises create more leverage for those open to new opportunities, enabling them to negotiate even higher salaries and more favorable work conditions at other companies. Even those who aren’t actively looking might land on recruiters’ radars after adding their new title to LinkedIn (MSFT).

For managers this means it could pay off to check in with their employees regarding their career goals and happiness in their role.

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