7 min read

How to Track and Calculate Promotion Rate for Brilliant Decisions

Understanding the subtleties of organizational promotion dynamics offers a window into career advancement opportunities or lack thereof and can uncover both desirable and undesirable organizational outcomes. Key among these insights is the internal promotion rate. This metric goes beyond mere numbers to reveal the depth of employee development, engagement levels, and the effectiveness of human resources strategies in fostering high performers and nurturing talent for higher-level job roles.

Analyzing Organizational Health Through Promotion Metrics

The internal promotion rate, calculated as the percentage of employees promoted in a given period, can offer human resources professionals a clear view of their employee development opportunities. Strong promotion rates tell us that development opportunities are available and being acted upon, and we can use these rates to identify areas of celebration and opportunity with the organization.

Promotion activity is linked with retention as employees who receive promotions are encouraged to stay through increased pay and responsibility, and it shows other employees that growth, development, and advancement opportunities are provided by the organization. Real-time promotion data becomes a strategic asset in understanding how promotions influence employee morale and retention, and allows HR leadership to craft promotion protocols and goals.

Here are several analyses where promotion rates could be used:

  • Career Path Ratio - Used to gauge the success of internal grooming of managers, performance management process controls or compensation cost management.
  • Cross-Function Mobility - This metric identifies skills development of high-potential employees through diversity of experience.
  • Promotion Speed Ratio - Once you have the promotion rate, you can divide total tenure to understand how fast employees are being promoted.
  • Upward Mobility - You can divide promotions by internal movements to understand your upward mobility paths compared to all.
  • Performance to Promotion ratio - This will help you understand how performance ratings correspond to promotions.
  • Gender and Ethnic Diversity Staffing Breakdown - Examining gender and diversity breakdowns with hierarchical levels and promotion rates can help identify and address any "glass ceilings" that may be present, offering a more comprehensive understanding of gender and diversity dynamics within the workforce.
  • Turnover Breakdown - Assessing turnover rates in tandem with gender and ethnic diversity breakdowns and promotion rates is crucial for gaining a holistic perspective on the organization's gender- and diversity-related challenges and opportunities, contributing to a more nuanced analysis of workforce dynamics.

Promotions into higher level positions, achieved through performance management cycles, non-competitive moves, or competitive moves, reflect strong individual performance and readiness for greater responsibility. They serve as recognition and rewards for outstanding performance within an organization. While a high promotion rate suggests robust performance and managerial strength, it could also result from flawed performance management or succession planning processes. Conversely, a low rate may indicate a lack of qualified internal talent or organizational constraints that make it difficult for internal talent to move upward. Low rates could also reflect a bias towards “buying” external talent. Analyzing promotion rate requires considering an employer's performance management policies for accurate interpretation.

Ultimately, the internal promotion rate is a multifaceted indicator, reflecting how effectively an organization nurtures its talent and commits to long-term development while upholding diversity and inclusion principles.

How to Calculate Promotion Rate

The internal promotion rate is a straightforward yet revealing metric. First, you need the right data to get the right answers. Locate both your core workforce and mobility data.

Formula: Promotions / Average Headcount * 100

For example, suppose your organization has 500 employees on average for the period and 50 employees were promoted within a year.

The internal promotion rate would be: 50 / 500 x 100 = 10%

However, this calculation only provides a surface-level understanding. Organizations must explore how promotion rates vary across different demographics and departments to gain deeper insights.

How to Track Promotions Across Diverse Demographics

Understanding how to track promotions effectively can provide crucial insights beyond mere statistical data; it highlights the diversity and inclusivity of an organization's workplace practices. By examining promotion rates across various workforce segments, including diversity groups, job roles, business units, age groups, and tenure groups, organizations can better understand their approach to career advancement and how it impacts different demographic groups.

Diversity Groups and Career Advancement


When analyzing promotion rates among diverse groups, it becomes possible to spot biases or disparities. This is crucial for ensuring that career advancement opportunities are equitable and accessible to all employees, regardless of their background.

Today's businesses must monitor hiring metrics and analyze diversity reporting effectively to make meaningful changes. People analytics software can remove bias and give companies data to support workplace diversity and inclusion programs and policies.

One Model customers like Colgate use our people analytics software to build powerful visuals to track and communicate their progress, increase workplace inclusion at every step, and build an enduring diversity-rich strategy.

Job Roles, Business Units, and Growth Opportunities

The potential for career growth and progression within an organization can vary significantly across job roles and business units. For example, a department experiencing rapid expansion may witness higher promotion rates as roles broaden and the demand for new leadership surges. This dynamic highlights the importance of strategic HR functions like succession planning in shaping career pathways and organizational resilience.

Succession planning is more than just a process; it's a strategic effort to identify critical positions and groom potential successors for these key roles. When a vital role becomes vacant, organizations with robust succession planning can promptly fill the gap with a capable and prepared individual, enhancing operational continuity. This proactive approach ensures organizational readiness for future changes and signals to employees a clear trajectory for growth and advancement within the company.

Effective succession planning intertwines seamlessly with people analytics. Clarifying objectives and progress is essential to shape the future workforce strategically. This clarity is best achieved through metrics that track and measure the effectiveness of succession strategies. Metrics and analytics can provide insights into the readiness of potential successors, the distribution of talent across the organization, and the impact of training and development initiatives aimed at preparing employees for future roles.

Another crucial aspect of succession management is its ability to boost employee motivation. Employees are more engaged and motivated when they perceive opportunities for growth and advancement within their current organization. Seeing a well-defined path to potentially step into key roles enhances their commitment and drives their performance, aligning their personal growth aspirations with the organization's strategic goals.


It took my team 5 min 16 sec to pull these charts together. 

How quickly can you complete the People Analytics Challenge?

Download The Challenge

Age, Tenure, and Upskilling

Younger employees or those with shorter tenures tend to have steeper promotion trajectories than their more experienced counterparts. Early career persons will need to be promoted more frequently as they begin to master their discipline. The time between promotions tends to increase as higher job levels are achieved. The time it takes to go from Specialist to Manager is typically much shorter than going from VP to SVP. PwC’s Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey found the biggest priorities for younger workers are training, development, flexibility, autonomy, and transparency on social issues.

One key distinction among Generation Z workers (ages 18 to 24) is that they are more vocal in their demands than older generations. Specifically, they are more than twice as likely to ask for a promotion in the next year (38% of Gen Z and 37% of Millennials, compared to 16% of Baby Boomers).

High-potential employees, especially, are keen to embrace new challenges, learn, and grow. Providing robust professional development and training opportunities boosts employee confidence and enhances their value to the employer. This investment leads to higher performance, satisfaction, and productivity, positively impacting the internal promotion rate.

Organizational Culture and Structure

The shared values, beliefs, and behaviors within an organization significantly influence employee experiences and, by extension, their promotion prospects. A positive workplace culture correlates with higher sales, profits, and productivity, while a negative culture can drive high turnover.

HR professionals can assess employee performance against the organization's culture and values to understand how workplace culture affects employees. Changes in organizational structure have been shown to impact employee performance directly.

HR can be pivotal in shaping workplace culture to enhance promotion rates. This involves fostering open communication, transparency, and respect across the organization and ensuring all employees feel included. Company values should be reinforced during onboarding and through ongoing training and leadership programs.


Limitations of Promotion Rate Metric

This metric falls short of providing a comprehensive evaluation of promotions in relation to other internal movements, such as transfers. It does not delve into the nature of promotions, whether they transpire within the routine course of performance reviews or if they involve transitions into higher-level positions within different organizational units. Furthermore, it lacks specificity regarding the hierarchical level at which these promotions occur. Importantly, it does not shed light on the consequential aspects of promotions, such as changes in compensation or increased responsibilities that often accompany these advancements in an individual's career trajectory. In order to obtain a more nuanced understanding of the dynamics at play, a more comprehensive assessment that encompasses these facets would be necessary.

Streamlining Promotion Tracking with One Model

How promotions are tracked within an organization is just as crucial as the data itself. An effective tracking system not only gathers data but also segments it meaningfully. This is where One Model plays a pivotal role, offering an advanced yet user-friendly suite of tools that effortlessly disaggregate data across various essential metrics.

  • Simplifying Complex Data with One Model — One Model’s platform is designed to ease tracking and analyzing promotion data complexities. With its sophisticated, intuitive interface, HR professionals can quickly segment and analyze data across departments, gender, diversity, and cohort groups. This comprehensive approach enables organizations to gain deeper insights into their promotion dynamics and make more informed decisions.
  • Departmental Breakdown Made Easy — Understanding promotions within specific departments is critical to identifying growth opportunities and potential areas for improvement. One Model allows for a detailed departmental breakdown, clarifying which areas excel in employee advancement and which might need a more focused approach.
  • Gender and Diversity Analysis for Inclusivity — A crucial aspect of modern HR is fostering an inclusive workplace culture. One Model simplifies the process of conducting thorough gender and diversity analyses. By providing clear insights into promotion rates across different demographic groups, One Model helps businesses ensure that all employees, regardless of gender or background, have equal growth opportunities.
  • Cohort Group Analysis for Targeted Development — Cohort group analysis, such as examining promotion rates among new hires or high-potential employees, is vital for shaping effective talent development strategies. One Model’s tools enable HR professionals to perform nuanced analyses of various cohort groups, helping to tailor development programs and career progression pathways that align with individual and organizational goals.

The OPM Promotion Calculator and GS Promotion Rate

While discussing promotion rates, tools like the OPM promotion calculator, particularly relevant in government jobs utilizing the General Schedule (GS) system, are worth noting. Although indirectly related, such calculators can offer benchmarks for understanding promotion norms in broader industries.

The Significance of a Comprehensive Analysis

More than merely calculating the average promotion rate is required. A comprehensive analysis, considering all the segments above, is imperative. It ensures a fair and inclusive work environment and helps align workforce development with organizational goals.

Understanding and effectively managing internal promotion rates is a multifaceted process. Organizations must go beyond merely calculating these rates; they should deeply analyze variations across demographics and departments.

Tools like One Model facilitate this process, providing a seamless solution for tracking and analyzing promotion data, ensuring that every aspect of workforce development is aligned with broader business objectives.

Ready to take your analysis to the next level?

Request a demo and watch me breakdown promotion rate live.


Top-Down to Team-Oriented: Examining Organisational Structures

Top-Down to Team-Oriented: Examining Organisational Structures

The way a company structures its workforce is crucial to its success. Workforce structures determine how employees are organised, how work is...

Read More
Using Diversity Reporting to Give Everyone an Equal Opportunity to Succeed

Using Diversity Reporting to Give Everyone an Equal Opportunity to Succeed

Fundamentally, people analytics is about using research and data to reduce the mistakes of human bias. Consistently collecting and analyzing...

Read More
From Theory to Practice: Using Employee Retention Metrics to Maximize Your Workforce

From Theory to Practice: Using Employee Retention Metrics to Maximize Your Workforce

Retention rate and turnover rate are two distinct metrics that measure employee longevity in an organization. Understanding employee retention rate...

Read More