Promoting Employees from Within

Retaining quality employees is like saving for retirement. It's investing in your own future — always a good idea. But it does take planning. By supporting a program of promoting employees from within, you can not only avoid losing valuable talent but capitalize on it to make your business stronger.

Why promote from within?

Fostering an environment that inspires and rewards personal growth, risk-taking and continual education can be good for your staff and your company. Reasons to promote from within include:

  • Retain valuable employees. Your most capable workers need to know they have room for career growth at your company. The opportunity for greater challenge and advancement can be as powerful a motivator as pay and benefits. Recognition that career paths exist also tends to lift general morale.
  • Save money. The cost of recruiting, interviewing and onboarding a newly hired employee can greatly outweigh the cost of teaching a current employee new job skills. Because current employees are already familiar with your culture, your people and your goals, they can potentially become productive sooner.
  • Help recruiting. When interviewees meet employees who have climbed the career ladder, they're likely to see a brighter future at your firm for themselves.
  • Aid transitions. Employees who move into a new position can help train their replacements, answer questions and, in a pinch, even fill in at their old jobs.
  • Prevent culture clashes. No matter how thoroughly you quiz interviewees, you can't be sure they won't end up as a square peg in a round hole. When you promote employees from within, you know they're already in sync with your way of doing things.

How can you nurture future leaders?

Developing a leadership program usually requires strong and steady support from the top. Given a choice between hiring someone untried who interviews well or promoting a known performer who lacks specific experience in that job, business owners often opt for the unproven stranger.

Here are ways to build the program:

  • Educate your team. You may need to get buy-in from others on your staff who may be worried about the risk of moving someone into a job who's never done it before. While acknowledging that mistakes may occur, emphasize that you rely on them to rig a safety net while the newly promoted employee learns the ropes. If it doesn't work out, there's still the option of interviewing outsiders for the position.
  • Hire for the long term. When you need to bring someone new on board, consider not only whether particular candidates can do today's job, but whether they will be able to handle a bigger job in three to five years from now.
  • Create a talent development process. Provide access to one-on-one coaching and mentorship, along with training and development — not just in functional know-how but in people skills and leadership.
  • Identify candidates for promotion. Review job performance as well as ambition, team-building skills, natural leadership and other intangibles. Try to give these candidates extra responsibilities beyond the current scope of their job.
  • Make sure employees feel free to tell you what they want. Stay in touch both formally and informally, so employees are comfortable letting you know if they feel stifled and want more opportunities to grow.
  • When a job opening arises, consider internal candidates first. Before searching outside your organization, determine whether you already have the needed talent in-house. Know your state's job posting requirements, so you don't fall afoul of the law.

A smaller business with only a few employees may find it easier to adopt a promote-from-within policy. Bear in mind, though, that you will still need to invest time and resources in on-the-job training.


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This information is general in nature and is not intended to be legal, tax, or financial advice. Although Regions believes this information to be accurate, it cannot ensure that it will remain up to date. Statements or opinions of individuals referenced herein are their own—not Regions'. Consult an appropriate professional concerning your specific situation and for current tax rules. Regions, the Regions logo, and the LifeGreen bike are registered trademarks of Regions Bank. The LifeGreen color is a trademark of Regions Bank.