Types of job promotions: definition, importance and benefits

Updated 31 March 2023

A promotion is a type of reward that employers may give to employees that are positively exceeding the expectations of their current role. Promotions may come in the form of a pay raise, a new job title or additional responsibilities, though sometimes they can be a combination of all three. They're often given as an acknowledgement of exceptional work or to motivate employees to continue meeting high standards. In this article, we look at the three main types of job promotion with three examples of how they benefit the HR and management staff.

Types of job promotions

There are three different types of job promotions that can help improve team and organisation performance: vertical, horizontal and diagonal. Each of these has a different effect on employee motivation and performance. Here's a closer look at each promotion type and what they entail:

Vertical promotions

A vertical promotion is when an employee is promoted to a position with greater responsibilities and a higher salary. Employers usually reserve this type of promotion for employees who have excelled in their current role and have also demonstrated the potential to take on more challenging assignments. Vertical promotions reward high-performing employees and help them grow their careers. It's beneficial for HR and management staff to offer these, as it motivates employees to give their best performance.

Horizontal promotions

A horizontal promotion is when an employee moves to a new position at the same level within the organisation. This type of promotion is used to reward employees for their hard work and dedication. It also gives them the opportunity to continue developing their skills. Horizontal promotions also improve communication and cooperation between different departments or teams within the organisation. This leads to a more cohesive and productive workplace, as the employee finds a greater appreciation for the different departments and company roles.

Diagonal promotions

A diagonal promotion sees an employee move to a new position that isn't in the same department or division as their current position. This type of promotion teaches employees new skills and helps grow their careers. Diagonal promotions can also be a great way for companies to promote employees who may not have the prerequisite experience or skills for a specific role and have the potential to learn quickly and excel in the new position. This means that HR and management save time during the recruitment process.

How can a vertical promotion boost performance?

There are many ways in which vertical promotion boosts performance. This includes having an effect on productivity, communication and morale. Below is a list of more information on each:

Increase productivity

In today's competitive business environment, it's more important than ever for employees to be productive. A vertical promotion helps employees feel more motivated and productive in their roles. This is because vertical promotions come with a number of benefits for employees. For starters, they provide a sense of accomplishment and recognition. When employees feel like they're progressing in their careers, they're likely to become more engaged and motivated in their work. Additionally, a vertical promotion also leads to increased responsibility and new opportunities for learning and development.

Increase employee communication

A vertical promotion increases employee communication skills in a number of ways. It gives them more opportunities to communicate with people of different levels within the organisation as they advance. This allows them to understand the company hierarchy and how different parts of the business work together. They become able to learn from more experienced employees and develop their own skill sets. By communicating with their new colleagues, employees are able to build relationships and create a strong team spirit. All of these things help employees to excel in their roles and become better communicators.

Increase employee morale

A vertical promotion helps HR and management staff to increase company morale as they give employees a sense of accomplishment, showing also that the company is ready and willing to invest in them. Promotions motivate employees and boost their confidence. This is important because when employees feel good about their work and their company, they're much more likely to be productive and engaged. A positive work environment creates a virtuous circle where happy employees lead to happier customers, who, in turn, lead to even more successful businesses. Vertical promotions are one way to create this environment.

Related: How to boost employee morale in 6 steps (plus tips)

How can a horizontal promotion boost performance?

There are many ways in which horizontal promotion boosts performance. This includes creating new skill development and growth opportunities. Below, you can find more information on each:

Teaches new skills to employees

A horizontal promotion typically teaches employees new skills in new areas. This is because they begin working with new people in a new area and can now learn from them. Sometimes, they may have more opportunities to learn new skills if they're in a horizontal promotion than if they were not. For example, if an employee is in a marketing role and promoted to a sales role, they have more opportunities to learn new skills. This is because they're now working with people who are in sales and can learn from them.

Creates growth opportunities

A horizontal promotion for employees creates growth opportunities in several ways. It gives employees the chance to learn new skills and take on new challenges. This helps them grow as professionals and develop their talents. A horizontal promotion helps employees build new relationships and networks within the company. This provides them with new opportunities for advancement and growth. Finally, a horizontal promotion also gives employees a fresh perspective on the company and its operations. This leads to new ideas and innovations that help the company grow.

Related: Top tips for successful career progression

Increases motivation

There are a few different ways that a horizontal promotion boosts employee motivation. It provides employees with a change of scenery, which is important as it renews their appetite to work as different tasks bring new challenges and responsibilities. It also shows employees that the company is willing to build up their job profiles. This is because horizontal promotions provide them with the opportunity to learn a variety of new skills that make them feel increasingly valuable to the company.

How can a diagonal promotion boost performance?

There are many ways in which diagonal promotion boosts performance. This includes increasing engagement, understanding and an incentive to work. Below, you can find more information on each:

Increases employee engagement

Employee engagement is key to a productive and successful workplace. This is because a diagonal promotion increases employee engagement by giving them the opportunity to learn new skills and grow their career in a new direction. This is exciting for employees and encourages them to invest more of themselves in their work. For example, a diagonal promotion from customer service to marketing helps an employee develop new skills and knowledge in a new area. By providing employees with opportunities for growth and development, diagonal promotions increase employee engagement, producing more positive workplaces.

A greater understanding of company structures

A diagonal promotion gives employees a greater understanding of company structures, as they typically provide them with a different perspective on the company's organisation. This helps employees better understand their role within the company and how they fit into the overall structure, which in turn improves job satisfaction. Diagonal promotions encourage creativity and innovation by exposing employees to new ways of thinking about their work. By giving employees the opportunity to move around within the company structure, diagonal promotions improve communication and collaboration between the different departments.

Incentivise employees

A diagonal promotion incentivises employees in a way that other promotions can't. By giving an employee a diagonal promotion, you're recognising their skills and talents in two different areas, awarding them with a promotion as a result. This can be an extremely motivating factor for employees, as it shows that you recognise their hard work and dedication and are willing to reward them for it. For example, if an employee is a particularly good leader and organiser, a diagonal promotion could recognise their skills in both of these areas and give them a promotion to shift manager.

Related: How to be a team leader, with tips and characteristics

Benefits of offering promotions

Employees appreciate promotions, as it often makes them feel valued and recognised for their hard work. Promotions also come with added responsibilities and challenges, which help employees grow and develop their skills. There are additional benefits for HR and management staff that offer promotions, such as keeping the best people in their roles, cultivating a more productive workplace and developing the existing skills that their team members have. Promotions can also help employees feel that they have a long-term career path at the company, promoting loyalty and boosting morale.

Related: How to Ask for a Promotion at Work

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