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Forget Quiet Quitting. What About Quiet Promotions?

Updated Mar 13, 2023

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Elizabeth Veras
Elizabeth Veras
Staff Writer at
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  • Like quiet quitting, quiet promotions are a disturbing workforce trend that speaks to communication disconnect and leads to high turnover rates. 
  • Many employees feel taken advantage of or manipulated into extra responsibilities by management.
  • To avoid quiet promotions in your business, choose leaders carefully, delegate thoughtfully, and set clear roles and expectations.
  • This article is for business owners and managers who want to prevent the quiet promotion phenomenon in their workplace.

We’ve all heard about the post-pandemic “great resignation,” when the national quit rate reached epic proportions. Quiet quitting then gained notoriety as employee engagement and performance dropped dramatically. However, a newer buzzword is emerging that sees workers left behind taking on more responsibilities and an increased workload beyond their job description without receiving a promotion, new title or additional compensation. 

This “quiet promotion” trend can cost your business valuable loyal employees, increase turnover and create a toxic work culture of resentment and dissatisfaction. 

What is a quiet promotion?

Quiet promotion is a quick and harsh solution to a company’s staffing issue that puts extra pressure and work on existing employees. As companies battle high employee turnover, loyal employees left behind are saddled with extra responsibilities. There’s no compensation increase or title change. Often, the organization doesn’t even acknowledge the unfair expectations it places on affected team members. 

Quiet promotions indicate a disconnect that may stem from one or all of the following: 

  • Lack of communication
  • Poor management
  • Inadequate planning and development 

It’s crucial for businesses to recognize the existence of quiet promotions in their workplaces or risk losing valuable employees. 

Did You Know?Did you know

Employees quit for various reasons. Money is the top motivator for quitting, but workplace disrespect and a lack of employee career growth opportunities are also frequently cited.

How common are quiet promotions?

Unfortunately, quiet promotions aren’t unusual. According to the employer review site Job Sage, 78 percent of surveyed workers experienced a quiet promotion – a workload increase without a pay raise. Additionally, 67 percent were saddled with extra work after a colleague left the company. 

While company workloads fluctuate, quiet promotions that strain loyal employees are far too common. While quiet promotions can happen in any organization, the following industries are most susceptible: 

  • Art and design
  • Hospitality
  • Food services
  • Government
  • Education 

According to the Job Sage data, these industries are 80 percent or more likely to increase workloads without compensation – with art and design and hospitality nearly hitting 90 percent. 


If you ask your boss for a raise, understand what a competitive salary looks like for your position. LinkedIn and salary report websites are excellent resources.

What problems do quiet promotions cause? 

Quiet promotions are detrimental to the workplace and cause severe drawbacks for employers and employees. Here are some of the issues quiet promotions create in the workplace: 

  • Resentment brews amid quiet promotions. Most employees want to get a promotion and move up the corporate ladder with a new title and salary boost. However, resentment brews when management gives you more work and responsibilities without a pay increase or title change. In the JobSage survey, 68 percent of respondents noticed they had more work than others with the same title, and 57 percent felt misled or taken advantage of by superiors.
  • Quiet promotions can create a toxic company culture. When employees are mired in resentment and dissatisfaction, sustaining a healthy and engaging company culture is hard. Employees want managers to create a workplace characterized by trust and recognition. When employees aren’t respected, camaraderie is impossible and a company’s culture becomes toxic.
  • Quiet promotions destroy productivity. While quiet promotions may see initial boosts in productivity, in the long run, they negatively impact morale, boost turnover and increase employee burnout – ultimately destroying productivity.
  • Quiet promotions can hurt a business’s reputation. A company’s reputation is crucial, especially when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. If an organization has a reputation for being a quiet promoter, promising recruits will go elsewhere and loyal employees will leave. 

How can you expand employee responsibilities the right way?

Most businesses want a healthy environment where employees produce high-quality work. As workloads fluctuate and staffing issues occur, managers must balance fairness and accountability with high productivity and employee engagement. 

Here are some ways to keep your team working effectively and efficiently while avoiding quiet promotions:  

1. Choose the right leadership team to avoid quiet promotions.

Your company leaders are key to avoiding quiet promotions. True leaders will find a way to balance responsibilities while prioritizing employee wellness and engagement.

The right leadership team is crucial when recruiting talented employees, keeping them and maintaining an excellent employer reputation. Having the wrong person in charge can alienate employees and ultimately steer your business in the wrong direction. 

2. Create and execute a plan for balanced delegation.

Directors and managers must create a balanced delegation plan to increase productivity while avoiding overworking their teams. Some tips for balanced delegation include the following: 

  • Get your team’s buy-in. Involve the team when deciding what tasks are most crucial. Where should they apply their focus, and what must they do to fulfill crucial responsibilities?
  • Find the sweet spot when distributing projects. As a manager, part of the planning process is creating an action plan where everyone contributes according to their strengths. You don’t want your team getting assignments from senior-level management that don’t make sense.
  • Set aside uninterrupted work time. Motivate the team to dedicate a few hours every morning to concentrated, distraction-free, proactive work. A research study from the University of California, Irvine measured the cost of interruptions and found that it takes 23 minutes to refocus. Minor interruptions throughout the workday drastically impact employees’ productivity, waste time and make meeting project deadlines challenging.
  • Set limits on meetings. Meetings can be time-wasters that drag on too long. Find ways to shorten meetings or turn them into emails or video chats. Setting restrictions on meeting length can help stem your team’s mental exhaustion.

3. Set clear expectations for your employees.

Setting clear expectations for employees is crucial. There may come a time when you need to adjust or change an employee’s workload or role without a promotion. If this is the case, be clear about any additional responsibilities you’re giving them and why. Let them know if the additional workload is temporary or building toward a promotion or pay increase. Follow through on the expectations you set in an appropriate time frame. 

If you must ask an employee to go above and beyond but don’t plan to promote them, be clear about that as well. Consider offering bonuses as compensation, and don’t make their workload increase permanent. 

Key TakeawayKey takeaway

If you’re adding to your team’s workload constantly and they’re consistently performing tasks outside their job descriptions, it may be time to hire more employees – or give your current staff a raise.

4. Communicate consistently and with transparency.

Communication is vital to avoiding quiet promotions. Great leaders and managers communicate with their employees effectively to lead and inspire them. They assign duties, manage conflict, incentivize and develop relationships – all of which require excellent and transparent communication. It’s crucial to talk to employees consistently and intentionally to assess their workloads and feelings and see if they’re getting the support they need. 

Employees want a positive work-life balance, rewarding work and career growth. When your company can help provide all three, you gain a loyal, productive, engaged workforce. When employees and companies understand each other’s goals, they can work together to ensure all needs are being met. 


Consider scheduling twice-yearly sit-downs with employees to assess their progress, address concerns and understand their goals. Ensuring employees are happy and engaged can help you reduce turnover.

5. Use recognition to encourage a sense of ownership.

In an environment where employees feel empowered and have a sense of ownership over their work, they’ll perform at a higher level and flourish. Gratitude and recognition are key. 

If managers give employees a considerable increase in responsibilities, it should go hand in hand with the proper recognition and rewards to empower the employee for continued success. 

6. Find ways to motivate employees beyond salary. 

Compensation doesn’t always mean a salary increase. If your employees are taking on additional work, consider offering more employee benefits like paid time off (PTO), flexible work schedules, and remote or hybrid work options. Employees will appreciate creative perks that boost their work-life balance, including opportunities to pursue professional development.

Your employees are your biggest asset

As organizations fight to retain valued employees, they can’t afford quiet promotions that wreak havoc on their workplace culture. Employees deserve a positive work-life balance, benefits, fair compensation and respect. Keeping the lines of communication open and delegating thoughtfully can keep employees from feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated. 

When businesses establish a company culture where employees feel valued and engaged, everyone wins. 

Elizabeth Veras
Elizabeth Veras
Staff Writer at
Elizabeth Veras is a copywriter covering business and marketing topics, including digital marketing, particularly content marketing and social media marketing. She is also a content marketer focused on multiple channels, including web and social media. Veras holds an MBA in Marketing from St. John's University.
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