Smiling man in an office receiving a handshake from a colleague to congratulate him on his recent promotionPromotion decisions can have a profound impact on the success of your employees and your company. And yet, while many organizations have invested in implementing consistent performance management processes, they have not taken the same steps with their management of employee promotions. If this is true of your company, consider the importance of an effective promotion process and how you can overcome obstacles with the right solutions. 

The Importance of an Effective Employee Promotion Process

Most companies know their promotion process isn’t optimized, but is it really worth taking steps to improve it? The short answer is a resounding “yes.” An effective promotion process can deliver valuable benefits for individual employees and your company as a whole. 

Motivate Employees

When employees know there’s a carefully designed process in place for promotions, they’re more likely to see a promotion as an attainable goal and feel motivated to work toward it. A Harvard Business Review (HBR) survey of more than 400,000 employees found that when employees felt confident their companies managed promotions effectively, they were more than twice as likely to put in extra effort on the job!

Conversely, if an employee feels like promotions are handled haphazardly, they are likely to feel less motivated to perform and may even consider leaving the company in order to advance their careers elsewhere.

When a company promotes a deserving employee, they demonstrate not only to that employee but also to their entire workforce the types of attitudes, behaviors, and results the company values. Seeing a coworker ascend to a higher position can provide employees with fresh motivation to perform their best.

Build Trust

Taking your promotion process seriously and approaching it as objectively as possible can also help you build a more trusting relationship with employees. HBR found a remarkably strong correlation between employees who believe in their companies’ promotion processes and those who believe their leaders act with integrity. 

Lax promotions practices can lead employees to feel that their leaders don’t really care about their advancement. Even worse, if employees feel the promotion process is unfair, they might feel animosity toward leaders or even resort to discrimination litigation. 

Managers and executives can say all the right things, but at the end of the day, employees look to actions to determine whether their manager and their company truly values them or not. Make sure you send the right message to your employees.

Drive Success

Taking a systematic approach to promotions can help you avoid confusion over who deserves a promotion so you promote the right employees to the right roles. When individual employees are succeeding in roles that are well suited to their abilities, the company as a whole succeeds.

Promoting employees to the wrong role or promoting them prematurely sets them up for failure and can cause leadership derailment. These issues can cause significant problems within departments and can compromise your company’s success.

If you want your company to grow and thrive, you need your employees to do the same. A strategic approach to employee promotions can help you support your employees’ professional advancement and identify the right leaders to drive your company forward.

→ How can you optimize your promotion process to be strategic, consistent, and fair? By using the viaPeople Promotions solution! Learn more here.

Common Challenges in the Promotion Process

Promoting the right employees to the right positions at the right time is a recipe for success, but it’s easier said than done. Most companies struggle with various challenges that can negatively affect their approach to employee promotions.  

Inconsistent Processes

A major issue for companies of all types and sizes is that they don’t have a standard process in place for employee promotions. Without a structured, consistent process to follow, promotion decisions are all too easily influenced by bias and company politics rather than determined by objective standards.

According to HR expert Niki Ramirez, discrimination claims or lawsuits related to a promotion often occur because an employer violated their own policy or personal promise. So it’s not only critical to have clear policies and procedures in place but also to then follow them to the letter, ensuring all employees are treated equitably. 

Promotion Bias

Most managers would likely not consider themselves biased, but personal biases are a natural part of being human. Close to two-thirds of employees in a Deloitte study reported that they had witnessed or experienced bias in the workplace within the last 12 months. 

Bias can wreak havoc on workplaces in a variety of ways, including on the promotion process. Allowing bias to influence promotions leads employees to mistrust their leaders and even resort to lawsuits in some cases. 

Consider the ways these forms of promotion bias can creep in:

  • Halo or horn bias: Managers might put too much weight on one strength or weakness and let this color their perception of an employee’s performance and capabilities as a whole.
  • Recency bias: When it’s time for a promotion cycle, managers may mainly consider only recent accomplishments or failures rather than consider a more comprehensive picture of an employee’s performance. 
  • Nepotism: A manager may be more inclined to promote an employee if they consider the employee a friend or if they’re a relative rather than basing promotions solely on merit. 
  • Personal preconceptions or prejudices: Managers can also have unconscious assumptions about employees based on factors such as race, age, gender, or religion. These prejudices should never play into promotion decisions and, if they do, warrant legal action.

Demanding Logistics

Finally, companies also struggle with the practical steps involved in promotions processes. Organizations may consider employees for promotion once or twice a year. Especially in companies with thousands of employees, this can create a significant workload for HR departments, which are typically tasked with implementing the process

Some of the tasks involved in the process include:

  • Facilitating promotion nominations 
  • Collecting feedback and promotion rationale for each candidate
  • Making the promotion packet securely available to all relevant decision makers
  • Capturing promotion conversations and decisions 
  • Archiving promotion materials and making them available for use during the next promotion cycle

Traditionally, HR departments tackle these tasks manually or use general performance management tools for the job rather than software designed specifically for promotion processes, resulting in inefficiency and plenty of room for things to fall through the cracks.

Overcome Challenges with a Modern Solution for Effective Promotion Processes

The challenges in promotion processes are real, but so are the solutions, thanks to a new offering from viaPeople. We created a solution specifically for facilitating effective promotion processes. Our promotion management software promotes consistency, efficiency, and transparency, helping companies revamp their approach to promotions.


Consistency is key to an effective promotion process. Our solution helps companies avoid bias and discrepancies by systematizing the process from start to finish. Work with objective employee promotion criteria and a predetermined process for discussing and deciding on employee promotions. Task lists and reminders help ensure nothing falls through the cracks.


We’ve seen how work-intensive and complicated a traditional approach to managing promotions can be. viaPeople’s solution alleviates this burden through powerful, intelligent automation. Allow the system to facilitate the process according to your custom workflows, allowing HR staff to focus on advising and strategy rather than menial tasks. 


The software also keeps track of documentation and promotion data so there’s no need to email documents back and forth and potentially lose records. Whether you need to consult employee promotion evaluation feedback or provide documented reasoning for promotion approvals or rejections, you have a central location for easy access. Use promotion data to make fair, strategic decisions that help employees realize their potential and drive your company forward. 

Find the Right Vendor for Your HR Software Solution

Ready to start capitalizing on the benefits that an optimized promotion process can deliver for your employees and your company? It’s time to find the right solution for your company. There are many software solutions out there in the people management space. Use our vendor evaluation guide to find the right one for you.

Download the vendor evaluation checklist from viaPeople