When Ann-Marie Campbell immigrated to the United States from Jamaica in 1985, her first job was as a part-time cashier at The Home Depot. By 1997, however, the company was under scrutiny for under-promoting women, a scandal which would eventually cost them $87.5 million in legal settlements.
But in an inspiring story of the power of both Campbell’s perseverance and the company learning the value of promoting from within, 34 years after her start, Campbell now sits among the C-Suite at the largest home improvement retailer in the United States as the executive vice president of stores.
If you’re not already sold on the importance of promoting from within, we’re going to cover a few key reasons companies should promote from within, how to create an employee lifecycle that fosters an environment for internal promotion and share tips from 22 companies actually walking the walk.
Table of Contents
- Reasons to Promote from Within
- How to Promote from Within
- What 22 Companies Have to say About Promoting from Within
11 REASONS TO PROMOTE FROM WITHIN
1. It’s the expectation. Millennials actually view promotions as a right rather than a reward, whereas the opposite is true among older generations.
2. Times are changing. Younger employees seek promotions more frequently than ever before. In fact, about 40% of millennials expect to receive a promotion every one to two years and one in three will leave their current job in search of a promotion.
3. They expect regular pay raises, too. Not only are companies losing money to turnover, but 35% of employees plan to quit their job if they don’t receive a pay raise within a year. That’s exceptionally high, when you consider the national average turnover rate is 17.80%.
4. If you don’t, another company will. Younger employees are really not afraid to leave their current employer if they’re unsatisfied. Seriously, 93% of young employees left their employer the last time they changed roles. With the unemployment rate at an all-time-low, employees are able to set higher expectations and standards for employers than ever before.
5. Boost motivation. When candidates are provided goals and a means to reach them, they are going to be more motivated to engage and excel in their work. 23% of employees in the US will take on extra tasks in order to be promoted.
6. Higher retention. When employees are motivated to earn promotions and raises, they are going to stay at the company longer, thus boosting employee retention rates. A whopping 77% of employees who quit their job could have been retained if employers took proper measures to meet employee expectations.
7. Internal candidates cost less. You know the saying ‘the fastest way to a pay raise is switching jobs.’ In reality, it’s not far from the truth. On average, when you hire an external candidate, you pay nearly 20% more than if you promoted an internal employee. Instead of paying a premium for external candidates who may not even work out, promote internal candidates that you know have the experience necessary for the new position to save and prevent them from leaving.
8. Career pathing is essential. The number one reason peopleleave a company is due to lack of career development. Candidates seek out companies that are proven to offer career development opportunities and are known to promote from within.
9. Millennials want to manage. More so than any generation before, 45% of Millennials actively want to manage others and 26% of Millennials would even consider leaving their current company if there isn’t a prospect of managerial positions in their career path.
10. Internal candidates are more loyal. External hires are 61% more likely to be fired or laid off than internal employees that have been with the same company for at least two years. Not only that, but external hires are also 21% more likely to quit.
11. Reward loyalty. While you’re not going to promote employees solely on the basis of their loyalty to your company, it’s important to recognize the simple fact that your employees did not up and move to another company just because they could. More than a quarter of employees report leaving a job due to lack of recognition.
12. Smoother transitions. Almost all of your current employees will know your team, industry and client base better than an external candidate. Whether your employee is promoted up in their career or laterally at your company, the transition will certainly be smoother than hiring someone who doesn't know your business and may be less familiar with your industry.
HOW TO PROMOTE FROM WITHIN
Promoting from within isn’t as simple as giving employees a new job title, paying them higher salaries or giving them more responsibilities. In order to successfully promote from within, you need to have a career path set before new hires even start at your company. Sure, the path isn’t set in stone. The needs of the organization and its teams will certainly change over the course of time.
But having a career path mapped out when you open a new role will not only attract growth-driven talent, it will provide employees with career goals and expectations on day one.
This will also help keep employees engaged with their work and reduce the risk of burnout because they’re constantly being challenged.
Once you have a career path established and you’ve made your hire, you — as an employer — need to foster their growth with continued learning and development opportunities so that employees continue to grow their skill set. This will also help keep employees engaged with their work and reduce the risk of burnout because they’re constantly being challenged.
Your leadership team is a crucial component in creating a culture of promoting from within. While employees can take courses to gain certain skills, their managers and leadership team need to help mentor and guide their career path to ensure they are moving in a direction that is of interest to the employee and to the benefit of the company. Plus there are going to be certain skills that can only be taught by someone within the organization.
It’s also important to continuously recognize your employees for their small and large accomplishments. Many companies put forth an employee recognition program to create a designated time and space to reward employees for their hard work and loyalty in-between promotions. And if you don’t recognize employees, they are twice as likely to quit within a year.
But how do you know when an employee is ready for a promotion?
There is no simple answer to this question, and different companies have put varying processes in place.
While some employers utilize annual or bi-annual reviews as a timeframe for promoting employees, others prefer to promote based on accomplishments at any given time. Set reviews open up a regular conversation across teams to ensure people are not being forgotten or passed up. 360 degree reviews are becoming more popular to gain a better idea of an employee's performance and commitment to their role and team. These reviews should be conducted and considered alongside regular weekly or bi-weekly meetings with managers.
Regardless of when and how you decide to promote employees, the most important factor is to be transparent at every stage. Be clear and specific about what employees need to learn or accomplish in order to meet their next career milestone and promotion.
When it comes down to it, there are two basic types of promotions: merit and seniority, which break down as follows:
Merit & Performance. Consider employees who consistently deliver results and excel in their role. What skills, knowledge and qualifications does the employee have to help them continue to excel in their next role.
Seniority. Consider how long the employee has been in their role at your company. Also take into account how long it’s been since the employee was last promoted.
Also, keep in mind that the best move for an employee may be laterally within the company, so make sure to have open conversations to learn about their interests and help them find the best role for their interests and for the company’s needs. It also may be the case that an employee’s next career move is outside of your company, and that’s okay. Employees need to do what’s ultimately best for their career, and you don’t want to keep employees that are disengaged and unsatisfied at your company.
22 COMPANIES WHO PROMOTE FROM WITHIN
How and why a business decides to promote from within varies by company. To better understand what works and why companies decide to promote from within rather than hire externally, we connected with 22 companies to hear their take on the matter. Here's what they said:
DUO SECURITY BOOSTS EMPLOYER BRANDING
"In our last organizational health survey, 98 percent of employees would recommend Duo as a great place to work. If we didn’t invest in our people and promote from within, we would not see a recommendation rating like that. Nobody wants to join an organization where you have nowhere to grow."
Jennifer Lawrence, VP of Inside Sales at Duo Security
CHEWY STARTS BY HIRING GROWTH-DRIVEN CANDIDATES
"When it comes to hiring, we look for candidates who have a strong work ethic, are self-motivated, work well in a collaborative environment, and provide superior customer service.
"As a company, we strive to promote from within. We look for candidates who are ambitious and have a strong desire to advance and grow in their positions. We encourage team members to think big when it comes to our company’s growth and their personal career growth."
Phil Reese, Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition at Chewy
OUTBOUNDENGINE SUPPORTS INTERNAL CAREER CHANGES
"All of our departments provide a great career growth plan to allow our employees to develop their skills. Our CS and sales departments have a lot of training classes to help them ramp up. From there, each employee can earn promotions when they are successful at that role.
"We also have an internal transfer program, meaning that each employee can interview for any position in any department if they have been an employee for six months. This allows employees to ramp up, learn about the company and then find out how they best fit into the company."
Jon Lewis, Director of Recruiting at OutboundEngine
NARRATIVE SCIENCE UTILIZES TALENT PLANNING
"First, we have embraced a behavioral interviewing process that aligns key traits with our core values. This has enabled our hiring teams to focus on finding people who can help drive and shape our growing culture and ensure that we are staying true to our values.
"Second, our practice of empowering and promoting from within has been so valuable. There have been times that we had to go outside the company to fill a key role but overall, we’ve promoted a lot from within Narrative Science. We use talent planning to identify high-potential performers before pushing them to do more. This approach has been very good for the company and for our culture."
Nick Beil, Chief Operating Officer at Narrative Science
PAX8 IS TRANSPARENT ABOUT PROMOTIONS
"When I started at Pax8, I was a jack-of-all-trades. I was selling, helping with order fulfillment and even doing some customer service. We are extremely transparent about what the path to promotion looks like at Pax8. We have a leadership and mentorship program designed for aspiring leaders and a fast track to management if you choose to pursue it. Because of this attitude towards leading, I was able to take ownership of problems and implement changes relatively early in my career at Pax8."
Jared Pangretic, VP of Sales at Pax8
PROMOTING FROM WITHIN IS PART OF CHOWLY'S CULTURE
"It goes back to culture. Leaders, those who really care and drive the team to hit their goals, tend to emerge early on. Being transparent about end-of-month numbers is something especially important to me, and those who ask questions about how we can do better are the ones who almost promote themselves. Beyond that, it’s just letting people run free and seeing how they grow as they take on more leadership duties and responsibilities."
Joe Lawton, COO at Chowly
CISION CONDUCTS REGULAR MANAGER AND PEER REVIEWS
"When you promote from within, a key advantage to the company is that you get buy-in for sharing of best practices and collaboration from those that have been successful. For the sales team, in particular, we conduct a manager and peer evaluation regularly so we are able to mentor accordingly and ensure people have a clear line of sight on how they can reach their next career goal at TrendKite. When you’re promoted or not promoted here, it’s black and white to everyone as to why, and that level of transparency is so important."
AJ Bruno, co-Founder and VP of Sales at Cision
STACKCOMMERCE UTILIZES 360 REVIEWS AND FEEDBACK
"We believe career growth can happen in several ways, shapes and forms. We are also very collaborative and consider this a huge factor in career growth. Stack has had several internal success stories of individuals who started in one role to grow into another because the company needs aligning with the individual’s passions.
"Outside of this, we have a robust HR process, especially when it comes to meaningful raises and promotions. We leverage quarterly reviews, annual reviews and 360 reviews to provide valuable feedback. As a result, the unified feedback will justify a raise, promotion or expansion of the individual’s role as long as it is in line with the company objectives and needs. Stack celebrates promotions monthly and we have peer recognition programs that help contribute to the supportive atmosphere."
Elizabeth Weyand, Senior People Manager at StackCommerce
CLEARCOVER CONTINUOUSLY CHECKS IN WITH EMPLOYEES
"When I first started, I had one-on-ones with my manager and director. When we discussed my goals, they asked questions like, 'What do you want to do this week?' and 'How can we help?' I wanted to start taking on more leadership responsibilities and I really started doing it without them asking me to do it. When they hired two more reps in Arizona, I did the whole training for them. That trust that Clearcover gave me before they gave me a new title motivated me to work even harder. Here, they feel strongly about promoting from within, and there’s a lot more room for growth as time goes on."
Aletha Green, Customer Advocate Team Lead at Clearcover
IGNITION CREATIVE INVESTS IN THEIR EMPLOYEES
“As new 'trends' gain popularity in 2017, companies mustn’t lose sight of the key drivers to success, with investment in employees being the number one priority. At the core of a company is the talent, unique personalities, creativity and continuous growth of the people who work there. At Ignition, that chemistry plays a very important role. We take great pride in who we bring in, provide employee training and promote from within so that we not only achieve quality and consistency in our work but we also build a strong identity as a company."
Martin Kistler, Founder, CEO and Chief Creative Officer at Ignition Creative
ACQUIA ENCOURAGES EMPLOYEES TO TRY NEW THINGS
"I started at Acquia right out of college as a Business Development Rep, and in my almost three years here have been given multiple opportunities to try new things, progress and grow my career. I'm thankful to be in a company that cares about its people and about promoting from within. As an Account Manager working directly with our customers, I also appreciated the commitment to partnership and passion for customer success. And I love the collaborative culture here — every single day I get to work with smart, determined people who keep me on my toes and teach me something new."
Katie Guido, Manager, Account Management Operations at Acquia
JUSTWORKS CHALLENGES THEIR EMPLOYEES
"Justworks offers monthly workshops like feedback skills and time management to support both personal and professional development. We also host casual lunch and learns called “Poppin' Sessions” led by fellow employees, which educate employees about different teams at a deeper level so they can explore different roles and positions. We believe in promoting from within and giving employees opportunities to take on new challenges that match their career goals."
Danielle Docheff, People Operations Advisor at Justworks
ZOOM HELPS EMPLOYEES SET AND REACH GOALS
"We are a fast-growing company that loves to promote from within. I work closely with everyone on my team to help them accomplish their goals and progress in their careers. This may sound strange, but my goal is to help everyone grow out of my team and move on to new ones.
"Zoom has a few programs to help with this. Our sales enablement team onboards new hires and provides continuous education to employees. They also put together a program called 'Elevate,' where the sales team across the company meets to discuss sales processes and topics. It’s a great way to meet teammates and spread knowledge. We also have a mentorship program that pairs new hires with more experienced employees. They meet regularly in the office and outside, where they volunteer, do fun activities and spend quality time getting to know each other."
Matthew Melser, Mid-Market Segment Leader at Zoom Video Communications
SPREETAIL PROVIDES EMPLOYEES WITH NECESSARY RESOURCES
"Our leadership development program is focused on how we can take an individual contributor, expose them to leadership growth and then help them gain skills to be ready to lead teams in the future. Our career coaches partner one-on-one with people to help them elevate their career growth. We also provide support for personal growth through our personal development retreats, which help people grow their emotional intelligence and learn how critical relationship intelligence is at home and in work. Additionally, our 'Drink & Think' series is an opportunity to learn life lessons, like what to consider when buying a house or education on pronouns and the right ways to use them."
Emily Olinger, Head of People and Culture at Spreetail
PING IDENTITY OFFERS LEADERSHIP CLASSES AND MENTORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
"Ping is growing so much right now — there are so many opportunities for people to take on new roles, mentor new hires, move into leadership positions or mature in their area of expertise. The company is a huge supporter of promoting from within, offering leadership classes and mentoring opportunities for those who are ready and interested."
Kristen Komatz, Senior Director of Product Development at Ping Identity
PATSNAP MOTIVATES EMPLOYEES TO GROW
"Success at PatSnap can pay off in a number of different ways. There are metrics and programs in place to ensure that you move your way up the ladder and get to where you want to be professionally if you consistently perform. The team here is constantly promoting growth and doing so in a way where people are genuinely motivated to excel. For example, I have taken on side projects, such as participating in interviews and conducting training and role-play sessions for Sales Development Representatives. There are also opportunities to grow your career by representing PatSnap at trade shows or workshops to increase brand awareness."
Ray Costello, Senior Account Executive at PatSnap
BLACKBAUD CONSIDERS STRENGTHS AND NEEDS
"Blackbaud has a very employee-focused environment, and the company believes in transparency through and through. Our managers and team leads will often discuss career development strategies with us and offer opportunities to connect with people who can give us firsthand information about a role or experience. To help us be as successful as possible, they look for potential promotions that suit our strengths and the company’s needs. In the eight months that I’ve been at Blackbaud, my skills have been magnified and I have grown tremendously."
Kristin Nelson, Associate Account Executive at Blackbaud
PATSNAP PROMOTES BASED ON MERIT
"PatSnap strongly believes in promoting from within. Our culture is not to promote based on tenure or years of experience but rather what you have been able to accomplish since you stepped foot into the door. As early as the interview stage, we ask our candidates and potential employees what their career aspirations are in the short-term and long-term. We want to make sure that their aspirations align with what we are truly able to offer, and we set those expectations early on as to what it would take to get there. As we are a young company, many of our employees are already on track to be promoted before the year-end."
Amir Achourie, the head of sales, U.S. at PatSnap
PATIENTPOP PROMOTES LATERALLY AND UPWARD
"At PatientPop, the opportunities for career development are endless, and while there is no set career path, there are some common moves employees have made. Teams are working together on a consistent basis, and we find a very strong bond between our sales and customer success teams. It’s not uncommon for an employee on our customer success team to jump into a sales role or vise versa. In addition to moving laterally across departments, we see a lot of upward movement; the majority of our managers started as individual contributors and have worked their way into management roles. We have new roles and opportunities opening all the time, and we pride ourselves on having a bias for promoting from within."
Alexis Kavazanjian, VP of People Operations at PatientPop
SOCIAL SOLUTIONS EMPHASIZES THEIR ROLES AS CAREERS, NOT JOBS
"Social Solutions is a great company for promoting from within, especially in the sales organization. Growth from within a company is crucial for establishing a career rather than just having another job. Social Solutions takes great pride in recognizing high-performing individuals and helps to create the roadmap to achieve both professional goals and personal ones as well. I’ve formed impactful relationships with the sales management team here at Social Solutions, and I know they care about my ability to sustain my level of success."
Greg Meyer, Inside Sales Team Lead at Social Solutions
GODADDY SETS NEXT LEVEL LEADERSHIP GOALS
"Leadership provides a tremendous amount of support in every sales rep’s ramping process and in learning next level leadership skills to prepare for promotion. It's a pledge that all managers on the ATX Sales Team make to every new hire that comes on to our team. We have also invested heavily into training and development programs designed to help our employees improve their skills and prepare them for new and exciting challenges."
Tom Calvert, SVP of Sales and Jeff Gossman, VP of Austin Sales at GoDaddy
OUTBOUNDENGINE GAINS LEADERSHIP BUY-IN
"I believe it all starts at the top. It takes buy-in from leadership to follow through with promoting from within instead of only going outside the company to find this talent. Our company's leaders are strong believers in training, development and promoting from within. You can literally see it throughout our company. Many of our VP's, senior directors and managers have been employees that worked their way up the ladder from within."
Jon Lewis, Director of Recruiting at OutboundEngine