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  • A quiet promotion is when an employer gives an employee more work responsibility without a pay increase or a title change. 
  • According to a new JobSage report, 78% of workers have been quietly promoted without a pay raise.  
  • Users on the sub-Reddit “r/antiwork” have sounded off on the concept of quiet promoting saying that it exploits workers.  

Quiet quitting…quiet firing…now quiet promotions? Why are we suddenly saying the quiet parts out loud?  

The internet tends to create buzzwords for phenomena that seemingly catch on. The newest ones include “quiet promotions” and “quiet thriving.” 

These two, like the other “quiet” things, have been around for decades, but now they’re being discussed out in the open, which can help workers and managers figure out how to address them. 

Here’s a refresher for what all these “quiet” terms mean:  

Quiet quitting: This is when a worker does what their job demands, within the hours they’re contracted, and nothing more.  

Quiet firing: This occurs when a manager wants to let go of a worker, but can’t just yet because they either don’t have the resources to do so or simply don’t have the fortitude to do it. Instead, they stop managing them and hope that they will catch on and just quit.  

Quiet promotions: A quiet promotion is when an employer gives an employee more work responsibility without a pay increase or a title change. 

Quiet thriving: This is when a worker takes specific actions and has mental shifts that help them to feel more engaged within their job.  

JobSage surveyed 1,000 full-time employees regarding their experiences with both quiet promotions and quiet thriving. 

Key study findings: 

  • 78% of workers have been quietly promoted without a pay raise 
  • Only 22% have actively refused attempts to be quietly promoted 
  • 57% have felt manipulated or taken advantage of by an employer asking them to do more work 

The most common signs of a quiet promotion include: 

  1. Increased workload above your position  
  2. More work than colleagues with the same title 
  3. Absorbing more work when a coworker above you leaves the company 

The industries most likely to quietly promote their workers include art and design and hospitality, both of which have 89% of their industry reporting the practice of quiet promoting. Other industries that are guilty of this include food services and government at 88%.  

According to the popular sub-Reddit “r/antiwork,” quiet promotions — while seemingly flattering — are not beneficial to workers. It’s also nothing new. 

“Companies have been guilty of this ever since I started my working career 32 years ago. I don’t think I have ever had a job where more was not put on to me than what was in my job description,” Reddit user “v1rojon” commented on the page. “They typically like to dangle the carrot of, ‘this could mean a promotion for you in the near future,’ and it can go on for years.” 

Another user that goes by “Salt-Selection-8425” commented, “This was commonplace in my last insurance job. No one got promoted without doing the next job up for at least a few months with no increase in pay. That’s also how they would cover maternity leave and other extended absences.” 

Staying quiet about it won’t fix it 

While it’s a vote of confidence to be given more responsibility, it can also be overwhelming when too much work is added without any adjustments to other job duties.  

If you feel as though you are being quietly promoted, it’s important to consider its overall impact on your wellbeing and on the quality of the other work you’ve already been doing.  

Here are some tips to ensure you are being treated fairly: 

  • Let your employer know that you are not willing to take on another employee’s role or more work unless you see a pay raise or increased benefits 
  • If you decide to take on more work and your employer tells you they can’t properly promote you yet, give them a deadline for being promoted (including a pay raise) 

When you discuss this with your manager, it’s best to enter the conversation with concrete information about what you’ve taken on, when you started doing it and how long the new work takes you to do. If you can provide specific examples of how many hours a particular project took you, that can add weight to your position.  

If you find that the extra work itself isn’t actually the problem — you’re still meeting deadlines, you enjoy the different work, etc. — then a different tact might be in order. Show your manager how much money you are saving the company by taking on these roles instead of them having to hire someone new, then use that figure as a negotiating tool to ask for a raise that is commensurate with the work you’re now doing. 

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