How and Why Small Business Employers Should Promote from Within

November 14, 2016 Pete Jansons

For small business owners who can’t find the high-skilled candidates they need for hard-to-fill positions, a great solution might be closer than they imagine. Promoting from within enables employers to augment the skill set of existing employees to correspond with growing company demands. Benefits of dealing with someone who already “knows the ropes” at your small business include:

  • Ability to hit the ground running. Promoted workers already have a good grasp of your small business’s structure, goals, customer base, employees, and even its temperamental printer. Skipping the onboarding period allows individual contributions to begin faster. Likewise, others on staff can remain on task rather than being pulled to get a newcomer up to speed.
  • Assured cultural fit. An external candidate can be great in theory but for whatever reason turn out not to be a good match when actually brought into a workplace. Small businesses thrive when team members work well together, so someone who has already proven successful in your environment poses less risk of disturbing group dynamics.
  • Better odds of success. Studies show that internal promotions have a lower failure rate than external hires. Employee and employer have a truer picture of each other because of their past relationship. Fewer surprises mean less chance of dissatisfaction that leads either side to sever ties.

In addition to these benefits, internal promotion sends a positive message to your entire small business team. It shows that you reward outstanding work, put faith in your staff to meet new challenges, and foster career development. Morale, retention rates, and loyalty all stand to gain as good workers witness that they can grow with your company.

And while perhaps not the primary reason to look to your own to fill positions, this method may save you time and money by eliminating the hassles and costs associated with recruiting. Your small business can get immediate productivity from the position rather than wait for the completion of the hiring process. Also, such a move may be beneficial in terms of salary. Research shows that external hires make 18 percent more than internal promotes in the same job. While your current employee might get a raise with the promotion, the amount oftentimes is less than what it would take to lure an outside prospect.

Stepping Up to Success

While promoting current employees has advantages, the process should not be willy-nilly. Thinking about how to best develop internal candidates for increased responsibilities maximizes their potential to be a good fit. Strategies for doing so include:

  • Evaluating interest. Consistent one-to-one discussions regarding long-term goals helps a small business owner set the stage for the future. Does the employee seem excited about advancement prospects and willing to take the steps to make promotion a reality?
  • Providing leadership opportunities. Enable employees to test the waters slowly by incrementally increasing chances to take ownership of projects. Grooming in this manner keeps them motivated but not overwhelmed, and you can get a more accurate picture of their potential.
  • Investing in continuing education. Finally, continually be aware of what skill sets would help your small business grow, and provide staff members with necessary training.

A culture of enrichment keeps workers engaged and ready to develop new talents, including ones not currently on your radar. Avid learners dedicated to professional development are gems to treasure because they don’t mind expanding their horizons as you expand yours.


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