Promotions Preferred to Pay Raises, Professionals Say

Stephen Miller

For most professionals, getting promoted—even without immediately receiving a larger paycheck—is preferable to receiving a pay raise without a promotion.

Career advancement remains one of the strongest signs for salaried employees that they are appreciated and valued—and moving forward at work—although a promotion and pay raise would, assuredly, be even better. And if pay isn't increased eventually, promoted employees are likely to seek employment elsewhere.

Nevertheless, results released in January from a survey fielded last fall by consultancy Korn Ferry, with responses from 1,200 professionals worldwide, found that nearly two-thirds of respondents (63 percent) would prefer to get a promotion with no salary increase than a salary increase with no promotion.

Studies show the overwhelming importance of recognition in driving employees' job satisfaction, said Dennis Baltzley, Korn Ferry senior partner and the firm's global head of leadership development. To retain their best talent, he noted, organizations "need to put development and clear career-pathing plans in place, not just for top leaders but for those across the organization."

While 39 percent of survey respondents received a promotion within the last year, 45 percent expect to receive a promotion this year.

The importance of promotions in regard to the gender pay gap was revealed in another study, which found that 20 percent of women believe that gender has contributed to a missed promotion or raise.

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