The talent shortage means internal promotion and progression is more important than ever

There are several advantages to providing clear internal advancement opportunities, including recruitment cost savings and cultural cohesion when employees feel that their firm is reciprocating their loyalty

For most of us, opportunities for personal development and career progression are key considerations alongside a competitive salary and attractive benefits and perks. People want to feel that they’re getting better at their jobs and honing their skills in preparation for greater responsibilities and rewards to come. 

Job titles matter. Simply adding the word ‘senior’ in front of a role, far from being tokenistic, can go a long way to making its holder feel more valued if they have been performing well in that capacity for some time. 

Even if someone’s responsibilities have not changed significantly in two years, it’s vital that their experience and loyal service are at least acknowledged by a new title – and, preferably, accompanied by a pay rise. If their duties have changed radically, failing to recognise that in a tangible way would be almost criminal.

In this era of so-called quiet quitting, HR departments are focusing on how to improve staff retention and employee engagement. If you want talented members of your team to keep going the extra mile for your business, you need to give them good reasons for doing so. The opportunity for career progression is certainly one of them.

While nobody should enter a new job assuming they will be promoted, it is important for them to at least feel that advancement is possible. If someone at entry level can see a route up through the enterprise to an executive role, they are more likely to be engaged. 

Developing a cohesive culture

If people feel that their employer cares about improving them, they are much more likely to care about improving their employer. A long-serving member of staff who has developed within the organisation and been allowed to shape its culture through regular consultation will surely be more committed to it. 

Loyal employees who are familiar with their company’s ethos, methods and offerings can also be of great value in training less experienced team members and integrating recent recruits. 

Saving time and money on recruitment

If you’re already paying a long-serving employee reasonably well, they are unlikely to approach you with unrealistic salary demands. 

If you’ve created a positive working environment and the employee is generally happy but seeking a fresh challenge and a modest pay rise to reflect consistently high performance, say, it’s usually wise to give them what they’re asking for. This will often prove less costly than it would be to hire a replacement a few months later because that person has become dissatisfied with their lack of progress and quit to work for a competitor.

Consider a high-achieving employee on £30,000 who’s seeking a new job title and £35,000 after two years with you. Why not give them that, or at least negotiate it down to £33,000, rather than risk losing a skilled operator? 

It could take months to find a suitable successor if they leave. This could have a negative impact on the leaver’s colleagues. Some of them may have more responsibilities as a result of being short-handed yet little hope of advancement, having seen how a valued team member has been treated.

Don’t underestimate people

While hiring externally and bringing in recruits with fresh perspectives from other organisations will clearly be beneficial in numerous cases, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush in many others.

The prospect of being awarded a promotion – and the inherent opportunity that career progression offers someone to develop their skills and contribute at a higher level – is an important motivator for any worker. If a company truly wants to prosper, it should start by prioritising the personal growth of its employees. They could end up adding so much more value to the business – over a prolonged period – if it would only give them the chance.