Move over “quiet quitting” and “quiet firing“, a new term has entered the workplace vernacular: “quiet promotions” – a phenomenon where employees are dished out escalating amounts of work without receiving a pay increase or a title change.
In what can almost be considered the inverse of “quiet quitting“, the workplace trend in which workers resist going above and beyond, quiet promotions are instigated from the top down and often result in workers feeling overworked or taken advantage of.
Due to movements like the great resignation, new research suggests three-quarters of Americans have currently experienced the phenomenon in some capacity. If this situation sounds familiar to you, we outline some tell-tail signs, before helping you figure out how to flip the practice in your favor.
What is a Quiet Promotion?
According to JobSage, quiet promotions occur when workers receive increased workloads without being rewarded with additional compensation or a change in position.
Quiet promotions commonly occur when companies find themselves short-staffed, without enough workers to tend to the mounting task loads and growing lists of responsibilities.
Much like the case with quiet quitting and quiet firing, the term affixes a new label to a longstanding workplace phenomenon. However, due to recent workplace trends like the 2021 great resignation and widespread layoffs spurred on by the surging cost of living, quiet promotions are now thought to be more prevalent than ever.
My boss just gave me a "quiet promotion": I have many more responsibilities but my job title and pay stayed the same
— Serena Snowballer (@kidnapped_jesus) September 7, 2022
A study from JobSage, which surveyed over 1,000 full-time American employees, revealed that 78% of workers have been subjected to increased workloads without being compensated for their efforts. The survey also found that 73% of workers have been asked to take on more work by their manager than was originally outlined in their job description.
Quiet promotions don't take place evenly across industries, though. JobSage found that the phenomenon occurs the most in the art and design and hospitality sectors, with a shocking 89% of those working in these industries workers falling victim to the practice.
But is being given greater responsibilities in the workplace always a bad thing? According to Claire Warner, founder of workplace culture and wellbeing consultancy Lift, quiet promotions can be a “double-edged sword”, since many of us are seeking to develop and progress in our careers.
However, with swelling workloads and inadequate recognition leading to higher cases of workplace dissatisfaction and burnout – and 57% of survey respondents reporting that it makes them feel manipulated or taken advantage of – it seems that the trade-off between growth and exploitation just isn't worth it.
How to Spot the Signs of a Quiet Promotion
Suspect you might be in the majority of US workers that have borne witness to this trend? According to JobSage, here are the main signs to look out for:
- Being asked by a manager to take on work above your position
- Being given more work than others with the same job title
- Absorbing the work from a coworker that's left the company
- Knowing your employer would suffer if you failed to take on more work
- Felling manipulated or taken advantage of in a workplace setting
Aside from these warning signs, other red flags include being asked to be a “team player”, and feeling like you don't have the opportunity to resist these requests.
If these examples are ringing alarm bells, don't worry. There are a number of actions you can take to avoid feeling helpless in this situation.
Tips for Addressing Quiet Promotions Head On
JobSage's research reveals that only 22% of employees have pushed back against being quietly promoted.
This is hardly surprising. Given the current amount of layoffs hitting the headlines, not to mention additional challenges experienced by minority and international workers, rejecting extra responsibilities isn't always viable.
However, in most cases, acquiring new skills and working diligently will bode well for your future in the company. So, if directly confronting your manager isn't an option, keeping a clear record of the evolution of your duties, task list, and responsibilities will make it much easier for you to petition higher-ups for that legitimate, well-earned job promotion.
And if your company doesn't have the means or capacity to compensate you fairly or recognize your progression, it might be time to look for better-paid, fairer opportunities elsewhere.