How to motivate the employee

Moving up the corporate ladder means more to many employees than getting a bigger paycheck, new research finds.

A study from the people and organizational advisory firm Korn Ferry revealed that 63 percent of employees would prefer to get a promotion with no raise than a salary increase with no promotion.

Dennis Baltzley, a Korn Ferry senior partner and the firm’s global head of leadership development, said employers should take this finding into consideration if they want to hold on to their top workers.

The biggest problem for those who haven’t moved up the corporate ladder, the research found, is that employers aren’t doing a good enough job of creating advancement opportunities. The study found that 56 percent of those surveyed who hadn’t received a promotion within the last year said the main reason was because of a “bottleneck or nowhere to go” within the company’s hierarchy.

In addition, nearly 20 percent of respondents said office politics got in their way when trying to move up the ladder. If they were passed over for a larger role within their organization, 84 percent of those surveyed said their first steps would be to figure out the reasons they didn’t get the promotion and then work to improve in those areas.

The study showed that when they want a promotion, nearly 90 percent of employees first have a discussion with their bosses to identify growth areas that would enable the individuals to move into the next role. “The last thing any boss wants is to have an employee demand a promotion or lament that they were not chosen for a role,” said Peter Keseric, a managing consultant at Korn Ferry Futurestep. “Conversations should start early on and include details on the exact key performance indicators (KPIs) that need to be achieved to earn a promotion, and there should be regular meetings to ensure progress is being made.”

Overall, 38 percent of those surveyed said they expect to be in a position for two to three years before being promoted, with 33 percent saying it should take anywhere from three to five years. “The key is ongoing development and feedback to ensure the professional is ready to take on added responsibility in a role,” Baltzley said. “And, as this survey shows, knowing that a promotion is a possibility is an excellent way to retain top talent.”