Merit or Seniority – Better criterion for promotion?

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Most people would say that promotion should be given based on years they have put into a company, dedicating their time and efforts into building and developing it. They hopefully wait for years after years expecting a promotion and then suddenly comes a newbie with better degrees and credentials, shows his caliber for a couple of years and gets promoted. This leads to the debate on whether the criterion for promotion should be merit or seniority.

Seniors working since forever in an organization have heaps of experience on how best to handle various kinds of situations that arise within. However, they do lack introspect into modern ways of the world which gives the upper hand to the newbies who are well aware of the technological advances that could help the company. They lack experience which indeed is needed too.

Career development and growth could either assessed based on merits or the experience they hold with the organization. Seniors quitting their jobs to look elsewhere for a better prospect is becoming common owing to the promotion criteria and a fresher being made to wait in queue is happening because experience counts.


1. Healthy competition: Merit based promotion system is good for a healthy competition to prevail. Everyone, including the seniors and the freshers need to be judged based on their performance and merits solely. This way they are encouraged to keep doing better instead of taking pride in being a senior and lagging around making others do their part of the work. When you are promoted based on your merits, you keep striving to do better at every step.

2. Motivating everyone: Merit based promotion criterion makes it a possibility that everyone has a fair and equal chance at getting promoted. This keeps everyone motivated. There is more productivity at the workplace as everyone indulges in keeping their performance at par with the others. In seniority based promotion system, the more meritorious are highly discouraged as they know that promotion and career development would come only with years of striving in the company.

3. Unbiased: Rating employees based on experience would be unfair. Some who do not hold years of experience could still be better at work than those who have been doing the same work for years. Updating knowledge according to improvised technology is beneficial. This is something that seniors who have been working full time at a company mostly lack as they couldn’t make out time to stay updated with the new trends of work. This gives the new and more meritorious employees the upper hand over the seniors, making them more deserving of a promotion.

4. More ambitious: Those that hold more merits are usually highly ambitious employees who are striving towards keeping their profile higher. Firstly, due to lack of experience freshers have to start from the lowest and from there they keep pushing their efforts to make it to the top or at least a satisfactory level. They keep learning new skills and go for courses that could help. All these efforts are solely dedicated towards growing their career with a positive feeling that they could look forward towards promotion when they work harder. They surely deserve to be rewarded if they are more meritorious than the seniors.

5. Good for the company: For the growth and development of a company, it needs employees with more merits, those who are willing to work harder and perform at par with the seniors rather than those who have experience but not much of a willingness to learn and adapt to new technologies. The success of an organization relies on how dedicated and creditable their employees are. It brings positivity in a work environment when merit is rewarded rather than traditional criteria of rewarding the experience holders. Productivity increases as competition increases and hence the company benefits from rewarding merits at various levels.


1. Experience: With experience comes knowledge and wisdom. Seniors understand the company’s ethnicity, visions and objectives far better than the others. They have been there through the ups and downs of the company and known ways to tackle challenges that arise in different situations. Through years of experience in leading teams to perform well, they have better leadership skills and are more deserving of being promoted so as to keep encouraging them.

2. Fruit of their labor: An organization owes its employees for all the new heights that it escalated over the years. The senior employees put their hard work into taking the company where it stands tall, hiring more meritorious employees that could double the success. However, those behind the success of an organization shouldn’t be ignored. They deserve to be rewarded for their dedication and hard work and what better way than a promotion could do that?

3. Stability: It is proven in a statistical record that senior employees have a more stable track record than the newcomers who are highly motivated at the beginning but lose interest and perseverance sooner. That is one of the problems with the new generation of employees. They are looking for fast success. They lack patience and go about changing jobs rather more quickly. With years of loyalty and integrity towards a company, seniors deserve to be respected and promoted.

4. Avoiding disputes: It is mostly seen that the union of employees prefer seniority based promotion system. It creates dispute when a newcomer is promoted while a deserving senior employee is kept waiting. Favoritism and nepotism is known to prevail in most companies where contacts with the right person get you anywhere you want. This creates mistrust in the minds of employees who are unsure of what might be going on within.

Both experience and merit matters. However, promotion criteria shouldn’t overlook any of these factors making the other one solely reliable for promotion. If a senior employee has been consistent in performing well and maintaining a track record to swear by, there is no reason why a newcomer should be preferred to be promoted while he stays waiting.

When a newcomer comes with loads of merits that could be beneficial for the growth of the company, it is a known fact that the organization would want to keep him pleased. If he is better at his work than the seniors who have experience but less merit, the newbie should get the promotion.


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