Research on Managers and Promotions

Many professionals aspire to get their next promotion as soon as possible, but what do we really know about how and when promotions happen?

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics in the USA designed a longitudinal study following people from ages 14-22 till ages 41-49. Part of the study looked into in-house promotions of employees working 35 hours a week or more at their company.


Among those who were promoted, why were these employees promoted? The surveys reveal these reasons:

  • Reorganization of the company
  • Change in ownership
  • Company growth
  • Others are laid off
  • My job performance
  • It was automatic
  • I requested it
  • Other reasons

The data collected revealed that midcareer promotions happen more often in the earlier days of an employee’s career. By midcareer the chances for promotion are reduced even further. An analysis of the data shows that the chances for promotion declined by over 6% from 1996 to 2006, and an additional 4% from 2006 to 2010. In other words, employees ages 31-35 had higher promotion rates than employees ages 36-39.

It is a common assumption that with a promotion comes a wage increase. However, according to the data, promotions did not always imply raises. About 25% of those promoted did not receive a wage increase.

In our next article, we’ll discuss what these and other findings mean to managers and employees and their expectations for advancement.

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Posted in Skills for Managers.