Basing promotions on performance prevents accusations of discrimination.
Unclear promotion policies can create conflicts and high turnover rates among employees who dont understand why co-workers received a promotion instead of them. Problems may not end there if vague promotion procedures also appear discriminatory. Employers can avoid such difficulties by creating a transparent promotion policy and consistently applying that policys standards to each employee seeking advancement.
An effective promotion policy focuses on advancing employees based on their skills and performance, not favoritism. Companies risk putting people in jobs they cant handle when promotions arent based on workers abilities. Moreover, employers who dont base employee advancement on job performance could face lawsuits if workers assert that the promotion process is discriminatory. In such cases, workers would have to show that an employer violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The legislation prohibits companies from denying job promotions based on workers age, gender, race or other characteristics.
Its important to determine the minimum criteria for advancement and make employees aware of the standards they need to meet to earn promotions. For example, employees may need to work with a company for at least two years before theyre eligible for any type of promotion, or meet certain quotas to advance within a company. Salespeople, for instance, may need to meet monthly sales goals to be considered for promotions. Employers can bolster motivation among employees by encouraging the advancement of qualified workers to higher positions before hiring from outside the company to fill such jobs.
Make posting all job openings in the workplace part of your promotion policy so advancement opportunities are open to all qualified candidates. In 2007, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that an employee could sue an employer for not posting job openings. The decision resulted from a case involving a 50-year-old Tractor Supply Company employee who asserted he wasnt considered for a promotion to an unadvertised position because of his age. The court determined the company wasnt guilty of age discrimination. Nonetheless, the company could have avoided the lawsuit and expensive legal fees if it had posted the job so that all qualified employees could have applied for it.
Assess all qualified employees for a promotion in the same manner to avoid the appearance of favoritism or discrimination. For example, ensure a hiring manager examines performance appraisals and uses them to select the top candidates for a promotion. Keep the application review process consistent by determining the importance of various qualifications and judging all candidates on those factors. For instance, consider whether candidates job-related experience is more important than their educational background. Document the application review process for each candidate in case there are questions about whether the promotion policy is biased. Note in employees files why they were or werent promoted.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law
HR Specialist: Michigan Employment Law: Dont Post Promotion Opportunities? Its Time to Reconsider
Harvard Business Review: When to Reward Employees with More Responsibility and Money
Frances Burks has more than 15 years experience in writing positions, including work as a news analyst for executive briefings and as an Associated Press journalist. Burks has banking and business development experience, and she has written numerous articles on consumer issues and home improvement. Burks holds a bachelors degree in political science from the University of Michigan.
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Burks, Frances. Employee Promotion Policy Guide.
Burks, Frances. (n.d.). Employee Promotion Policy Guide.
Burks, Frances. Employee Promotion Policy Guide accessed August 11, 2018.
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