Raise or Recognition? Korn Ferry Survey Finds Professionals Split on Whether they Want to Get Paid More or Promoted

-- Nearly a Third Say They’d Look for a New Job if Passed Over for Promotion --

-- “Bottleneck or Nowhere to Go” Top Reason for No Promotion, Followed by “Politics” -- 

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 14, 2019 —When considering what reward matters most in the workplace, professionals are split on whether they prefer recognition or extra compensation. That according to a new Korn Ferry (NYSE: KFY) survey.

In the December 2018 survey, 45 percent of professionals said they would prefer a promotion with no raise, with 55 percent saying they would prefer a raise with no promotion.

“Appropriate compensation is key to a professional’s job satisfaction, but at least as important is recognition for a job well done. This is critical for motivating and retaining your talent. One of the most visible forms of recognition is a promotion,” said Dennis Baltzley, Korn Ferry global head of leadership development solutions. “Organizational leaders must set expectations of constant learning, and this means development and career plans at all levels, so employees see a path for broadening, deepening, or advancement.”

Unfortunately, according to the survey, many organizations are not doing an adequate job of creating clear advancement opportunities for professionals. Nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of respondents who did not get a promotion within the last 12 months cited “bottleneck or nowhere to go” as the main reason. Seventeen percent said “office politics” got in their way of moving up the ladder.

Half (50 percent) of respondents said they will not ask for a promotion this year. Of those respondents, nearly a third (28 percent) admitted they are not ready for a promotion, and 15 percent said they are afraid and don’t know how to ask.

If they were passed over for a promotion, nearly one-third (31 percent) said they’d be on the job hunt, either immediately or as a passive job seeker.

In terms of timing for promotions, 44 percent said they thought it was appropriate to be promoted after 2-3 years on the job. About a quarter (24 percent) said they should get a promotion after 1-2 years in a role, and 7 percent felt they should be promoted even if they’ve been on the job for a year or less.

“The key to job progression is ongoing development and coaching to ensure professionals are receiving feedback in terms of how they are doing in their current role and what they need to do to be ready to take on added responsibility,” said Baltzley. “And even if an employee is not yet ready for the next role, knowing that there is potential for a promotion to a more challenging role is an excellent way to retain top talent.”

About the Survey – The Korn Ferry survey was conducted in December 2018 and garnered 1,327 responses.

Survey Responses:

Would you rather receive:

A promotion with no salary increase - 45 percent
A salary increase with no promotion - 55 percent

Did you receive a promotion in the last 12 months?

Yes - 34 percent
No - 66 percent

Do you expect to receive a promotion within the next 12 months?

Yes - 40 percent
No - 60 percent

Will you ask for a promotion in the next 12 months?

Yes - 50 percent
No - 50 percent

If you are not asking for a promotion in the next 12 months, what is the top reason?

I’m afraid, don’t know how to ask - 15 percent
I’m not ready for a promotion - 28 percent
I have recently received a promotion - 57 percent

If you haven’t received a promotion in the last 12 months, what’s the most likely reason?

Office politics - 17 percent
I’m not yet qualified - 10 percent
Bottleneck, nowhere to go - 61 percent
Unwillingness by my company to offer compensation tied to the promotion - 12 percent

How long (on average) do you expect to stay in a role before being promoted?

A year or less - 7 percent
One to two years - 24 percent
Two-to-three years - 44 percent
Three-to-five years - 22 percent
More than five years - 3 percent

If you are passed over for a promotion, would you:

Quit with no job prospect - 2 percent
Immediately look for a new job - 12 percent
Become a passive job seeker - 19 percent
Identify the reasons and work to improve - 66 percent
Take no action - 1 percent

What is the most likely action you would take if you wanted a promotion?

Have a conversation with my boss and identify growth areas - 77 percent
Get a new job offer and hope my company counters with a promotion - 3 percent
Work longer hours - 0 percent
Take on more responsibility - 20 percent

About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm. We help clients synchronize strategy and talent to drive superior performance. We work with organizations to design their structures, roles, and responsibilities. We help them hire the right people to bring their strategy to life. And we advise them on how to reward, develop, and motivate their people.