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The “Quiet” Phenomenon Continues with “Quiet Promotions”

| 02/09/2023 | Blog

“Quiet quitting” was so 2021.

“Quiet firing” was so 2022.

For the in crowd, the new rage for 2023 is “quiet promotions.”

The big difference here is that our previous workplace-focused quiet phenomena involved employees who were no longer part of the organization.  Now, as we are dealing in real time with the affects of these upheavals and the continued unsteadiness of the labor market, we are seeing (or maybe not seeing) how this impacts our existing workforce – those that take on the duties and responsibilities of their former colleagues.

As is so often the case, it’s what you don’t know you don’t know that can have the most negative consequences.  Please continue to our blog for a very enlightening examination of quiet promotions, and don’t be surprised if you find that this describes your current situation!

Exploring the Next ‘Quiet’ Workplace Phenomenon and What to Do About It

First, the buzz was all about “quiet quitting” as overworked employees quietly cut back on their tasks to help them cope with job stress. That trend was countered with “quiet firing” as supervisors who noticed the slowdowns looked for opportunities to push quiet quitters out the door. And now, employer review site JobSage has turned up evidence of what it calls “quiet promotions”—the phenomenon created when employees find themselves with more work and responsibility without an accompanying raise or title change. What should the not-so-quiet response be from employers? A few employment-focused companies have some advice.

What Do Quiet Promotions Look Like?

In October, JobSage surveyed 1,000 full-time employees aiming to find out which employees are thriving at work and how employers can create an environment conducive to flourishing employees.

The research turned up frequent instances of employees taking on more work for no more pay or recognition. The survey found that 78% of the employees surveyed reported they had been quietly promoted. The poll also found that 67% of the employees absorbed the work of a coworker who had left the company, and 73% had experienced a manager asking them to take on additional work.

The research also exposed a red flag for employers guilty of morale-hampering quiet promotions: 57% of the employees surveyed felt manipulated or taken advantage of when their employer asked them to do more work without a change in status.

JobSage found that signs of quiet promotions include having some employees who do more work than others with the same title, a need to have employees absorb work after a coworker departs, and having an environment where the company would suffer if employees refused to go above and beyond.

Who’s Getting Quietly Promoted?

The industries found most likely to increase their employees’ workload without boosting pay are art and design, hospitality, food services, government, and education.

Why would employees tolerate quiet promotions? JobSage found that 68% had taken on more work with the hope of being promoted.

The survey found that 59% of those surveyed felt undercompensated, and 42% felt their efforts were going unnoticed. The survey also found that 22% of respondents had actively refused their employer’s attempt to quietly promote them.

The research found that the industries most likely to genuinely promote employees were engineering, government, architecture and construction, legal services, and nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

JobSage also set out to find workers who feel like they are thriving in their positions. The industries with the most workers who are thriving are real estate, nonprofits and NGOs, finance, art and design, architecture and construction, and technology.

Advice for Employers

The JobSage survey delved into why some employees thrive and what lessons employers can learn about working conditions. Thriving employees were found to enjoy their work and their work-life balance, so employers are urged to provide flexible hours, good pay, and supportive management.

The research found that supportive managers are those who trust workers and recognize accomplishments. They also understand their employees’ needs and understand their life outside of work and advocate for them. Employees also appreciate management that understands the workflow and are willing to invest in career development.

Workplace communications software maker Coda also has researched how people approach work and view work-life balance. In a survey of 1,000 employees, the Coda team found that work is personal, and employee satisfaction is correlated to how an employer’s processes are adapted to workers’ personal preferences.

Although people often grumble about having to attend too many meetings, the Coda research found that in-person meetings were the first choice for people needing to brainstorm. Virtual meetings came in second, messaging platforms came in third, and document collaboration was the least preferred choice.

Coda also suggests killing morning check-ins. Although short morning standup meetings sound like a great way to get everyone on the same page, the research found that more than two-thirds of survey respondents said they are most productive and do their best work during the morning. So, those morning standups may do more harm than good by disrupting the most productive time of the day.

Helping employees tackle email is another way to help them thrive instead of being overwhelmed. Since most employees report having many emails, the Coda team suggests using other quick communication tools “for everyday tasks, asks, and updates” and saving email “for big-picture items, external communication, and longer-term outlines that may otherwise get lost in the high volume of instant messages.”

Article courtesy of content partner BLR.  Author Tammy Binford writes and edits news alerts and newsletter articles on labor and employment law topics for BLR web and print publications.