Fi Dry Promotion

How Employers Can Quench the Thirst of a Dry Promotion

Published by
22nd November 2023

Even if you haven’t come across the term ‘dry promotion’, it’s likely you have received one.

A ‘dry promotion’ is essentially when an employee is given extra duties and responsibilities without a raise – hence making it a ‘dry’ promotion as there is no compensation being offered to grease their wheels. This phenomenon is quite a popular one; one survey found that 78% of employees had experienced a dry promotion.

There are many reasons why employees are dry promoted, but the most common ones tend to be that someone is absorbing the responsibilities of an employee that has just left, or they are being given the chance to see if they would be capable of a promotion and this ‘dry promotion’ is a trial run. The problem is, in both of these scenarios it is rarely communicated how long – if ever – this change will be reflected in their compensation.

Dry promotions can be frustrating for employees, and can lead to lower engagement levels, higher levels of dissatisfaction, and increase the likelihood of staff falling into a ‘grumpy staying’ mindset.

From an employer perspective, a dry promotion can be tempting to offer; if you want to potentially promote someone but want to see how they will fare in this position, then offering this interim, unpaid position can seem like a legitimate solution. If you are going to take this course of action, then clear communication is key – ensure that the employee knows exactly how long their interim position is for and at what point the decision will be made to further their promotion or not. At least in this case, the employee has all the information they need to make an informed decision about whether they want to accept this promotional trial.

In cases of delegating responsibilities from a departed employee, the idea is that these additional responsibilities will only be absorbed until a replacement is found. Whilst an entire compensation change may not be a viable option, this doesn’t mean that employers can’t reward these employees in other ways, whether that be through a bonus or through more creative means (for instance, offering them some additional paid leave).

If you have to offer a dry promotion, it can’t be bone dry, otherwise an employer will find itself with employees looking to quench their thirst in other places. Promoting someone can be daunting for an employer, as it is a risky investment, and whilst dry promotions may seem like an insurance tactic, they may end up doing more harm than good.

Instead of dry promoting, there is no harm in breaking down the promotion process so that the employee is still being recognized and rewarded and the employer can ease them in to get a feel if they are ready for the role.

If you would like to discuss how we can help bolster your people strategies and optimize your promotion process, please get in touch with us.

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