Korn Ferry Survey: Two-Thirds of Professionals Would Prefer a Promotion with No Raise Over a Raise with No Promotion in the New Year

--Most Think Promotions Should Happen Every 2-3 Years, While 5 Percent Think They Should Get Promoted After Being on the Job Less Than a Year

--“Bottleneck or Nowhere to Go” Top Reason for No Promotion

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- As many professionals work on their New Year’s resolution of career advancement in 2017, a new Korn Ferry survey reveals most feel getting promoted trumps having more money in their pocket.

The October 2016 study of 1,200 professionals from around the world found that nearly two-thirds of respondents (63 percent) said they would prefer to get a promotion with no salary increase than a salary increase with no promotion.

"Study after study shows the incredible importance of recognition for one's contribution is a key driver in job satisfaction, while salary is rarely near the top,” said Dennis Baltzley, Korn Ferry senior partner and the firm’s global head of leadership development. “To retain the best and the brightest, organizational leaders need to put development and clear career pathing plans in place, not just for top leaders but for those across the organization.”

While 39 percent said they did receive a promotion within the last year, 45 percent said they expect to receive a promotion in the coming year.

However, according to the survey, many organizations are not doing an adequate job of creating clear advancement opportunities for professionals. More than half (56 percent) of respondents who did not get a promotion within the last 12 months cited “bottleneck or nowhere to go” as the main reason. Nearly one-fifth (19 percent) said office politics got in their way of moving up the ladder.

Also, 84 percent said that if they were passed over for a promotion, the No.1 action they would take was to identify the reason and work to improve. The vast majority (88 percent) said that if they wanted a promotion, the No. 1 action they would take would be to have a conversation with their boss and identify growth areas that would enable them to move into the next role.

Recruitment and talent experts say professionals should be mindful of when and how they ask for a promotion.

“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.”

According to the Korn Ferry survey, when asked on average how long they should stay in a role before being promoted, the No. 1 response (38 percent) was 2-3 years. Interestingly, an aggressive 5 percent of respondents said they expect to be in a role for a year or less before being promoted.

“The key is ongoing development and feedback to ensure the professional is ready to take on added responsibility in a role,” said Baltzley. “And as this survey shows, knowing that a promotion is a possibility is an excellent way to retain top talent.”

About the Survey – The Korn Ferry survey was conducted in October 2016 and garnered 1,200 responses.


Survey Responses:


Would you rather receive:

• A promotion with no salary increase

63 percent

• A salary increase with no promotion

37 percent

Did you receive a promotion in the last 12 months?

• Yes

39 percent

• No

61 percent

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

• Yes

45 percent

• No

55 percent

If you haven’t received a promotion lately, what’s the most likely reason?

• Politics

19 percent

• I’m not yet qualified

16 percent

• Bottleneck, nowhere to go

56 percent

• Unwillingness by my company to offer compensation tied to the promotion

10 percent


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

• A year or less

5 percent

• One to two years

19 percent

• Two-to-three years

38 percent

• Three-to-five years

33 percent

• More than five years

5 percent

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

• Quit with no job prospect

1 percent

• Immediately look for a new job

6 percent

• Become a passive job seeker

8 percent

• Identify the reasons and work to improve

84 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

88 percent

• Get a new job offer and hope my company counters with a promotion

0 percent

• Work longer hours

0 percent

• Take on more responsibility

12 percent

About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is the preeminent global people and organizational advisory firm. We help leaders, organizations, and societies succeed by releasing the full power and potential of people. Our nearly 7,000 colleagues deliver services through our Executive Search, Hay Group and Futurestep divisions. Visit kornferry.com for more information.

Korn Ferry
Tracy Kurschner, 612.309.3957

Source: Korn Ferry