While “quiet quitting” by employees has emerged as a damaging workplace trend in the post-Covid world, a new trend is emerging that pushes the scales in the other direction.
According to HR expert Anja van Beek, “quiet promotions” are increasingly bogging down workers worldwide, including South Africa, and reflect growing dysfunction and poor leadership at the organisations that practice it.
“Quiet quitting” is a situation where an employee purposefully does the bare minimum required for their job, not extending any additional time or resources or going beyond their duties for the benefit of the company they work for.
“Quiet promotion” is a kick from the other direction, where an employee is asked to take on more duties at their job by their managers or bosses – without receiving additional compensation or a formal promotion.
While promotions are highly sought-after and often take years to work towards, when done in the correct way, they typically come with a pay bump or other benefits on top of the greater responsibility.
However, as employees come under increasing strain and companies move to rationalise their workforces, some diligent staff are being tasked with greater responsibility on the sly.
Van Beek said that the term can also be used to describe a situation where high-performing employees are “punished” for their success by being given more work and responsibilities instead of being recognised and rewarded for their contributions.
Whichever way the “quiet promotion” takes place, the end result is the same: it can lead to burnout and decreased job satisfaction, and ultimately, higher turnover of staff.
She said that employees need to be aware of the signs of quiet promotion and take steps to avoid it.
A quiet promotion was reported by 78% of surveyed employees, according to the employer review website Job Sage. Additionally, 67% of employees had additional work after a coworker left the company.
“The lack of communication and transparency surrounding these quiet promotions is a concerning reflection of organisational dysfunction and poor leadership,” she said.
“Quiet promotions – like quiet quitting – are a troubling workforce trend that speaks to a lack of communication and leads to high turnover rates. To avoid quiet promotions in your company, select leaders carefully, delegate wisely, and establish clear roles and expectations.”
Avoiding quiet promotion requires a combination of proactive steps, effective communication, and the ability to manage your workload and negotiate for recognition and rewards.
By taking these steps, high-performing employees can ensure that their hard work is acknowledged and rewarded, and that they are not punished for their success.
The HR expert highlighted five key ways employees can avoid being quietly promoted:
1. Communicate your expectations
Make sure that your manager knows what you expect in terms of recognition and rewards for the additional work you have taken on and your hard work.
Be clear about your career goals and what you hope to achieve in your current role.
2. Manage your workload
Keep track of your responsibilities and make sure that you are not taking on too much work.
Be mindful of when you are being asked to take on additional projects and assess whether you have the capacity to do so.
3. Negotiate for recognition and rewards
When you are offered additional responsibilities, negotiate for recognition and rewards that are corresponding with the additional work you will be doing.
This could include a title change, a raise, or other benefits.
4. Seek out mentorship and support
Find a mentor or support network that can help you navigate the complexities of your job and provide advice on how to avoid being quietly promoted.
5. Speak up
If you are being quietly promoted, it is important to speak up and let your manager know how your intent and expectations.
Explain the impact that the additional work is having on your performance and well-being, and work with your manager to find a solution that is fair and sustainable.