Rewarded with new title, same pay

For the first time in a long time, the words “promotion” and “raise” are no longer inseparable. More

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Rewarded with new title, same pay

RAISING THE BAR: Cornerstone Group employees, from left: administrative assistant Lisa Carlson, Vice President of Human Resources Consulting Karyn Rhodes, client-services adviser Stephanie Hamel and benefits specialist Holly Grossman. Rhodes sees a decline in traditional promotions.
Posted 12/19/11

For the first time in a long time, the words “promotion” and “raise” are no longer inseparable.

Pushed by the recession and emboldened by the swollen ranks of the unemployed, a growing number of employers have either considered or already embrace the practice of offering promotions without additional compensation, human resources professionals say.

The practice is far from popular or pervasive, but even as the economy improves, it shows little sign of going away.

“I don’t see people giving traditional promotions like they used to,” said Karyn Rhodes, vice president of human resources consulting at the Cornerstone Group in Warwick. “In this recession, companies are giving out new titles but with no additional compensation, even when there are additional responsibilities.”

In a recent survey of 508 human resources managers and 433 employees conducted by the staffing service Office Team, 22 percent said promotions without raises are either “very” or “at least somewhat common” at their companies. At the same time, 63 percent said the practice was not common while 14 percent said their company never does it.

While that number indicates the practice is still firmly in the minority, it surprised Office Team members who had never surveyed the topic before.

“It was pretty eye-opening,” said Sarah Pontarelli, Providence Branch manager for Robert Half International, the parent company of Office Team. “I was a little surprised that 22 percent said it was somewhat common.”

On the employee side of the equation, 55 percent of workers surveyed said they would be willing to accept a promotion that did not come with a pay raise, a number that may convince more employers that they can get away with it.

“We’re sensing that now workers might be more willing to take a promotion without a raise because of job security and the hope that it will advance their career,” Pontarelli said.

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