An HR Glossary for HR Terms

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

Upward Mobility

Upward Mobility

What Is Upward Mobility?

Upward mobility measures the frequency a person changes their socioeconomic status. A high rate of upward mobility indicates a healthy economy, and one of the key factors that drives this economic advancement is job advancement.

What Is Upward Mobility in HR?

In HR, upward mobility refers to the rate at which employees advance into new roles, additional opportunities, and better compensation. This advancement may involve:

Why Is Upward Mobility Important in a Job?

The top reason people quit their jobs is lack of career development. As industries grow, organizations must work harder to attract and retain top talent. Offering skill growth and development, increased opportunity, and upward mobility can help employers achieve their retention goals.

In addition, organizations that make upward mobility an element of their employee experience can grow a productive workforce. Employees at such organizations are more likely to do the following:

What Role Does Compensation Play in Upward Mobility?

Title promotions are not enough to ensure retention—about 45 percent of employees leave their roles due to insufficient compensation.

Therefore, employers must provide competitive compensation as employees advance in their roles. Since advancements come with more responsibilities, it’s right that employers offer higher compensation.

However, while additional leadership responsibilities frequently lead to additional pay, additional income shouldn’t be restricted to the leadership pathway. Employees with high skill and knowledge in their specialty can provide the organization with as much unique value as employees on a leadership track.

Recognizing the value of all skills helps employees feel they can advance without being forced into leadership roles (where they might inflict their underdeveloped leadership skills on other employees).

Instead of leaving compensation to individual negotiation, organizations can establish salary ranges: compensation categories that provide a benchmark for fairness across the organization and indicate pathways for upward mobility.

Here are common steps to create salary ranges and use them to manage compensation:

Keep in mind, compensation rarely remains static—the rate of pay constantly changes with evolving market conditions. Therefore, employers must consistently tap into current data such as the National Compensation Survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) by the Social Security Administration (SSA)

What Are the Signs of Upward Mobility at an Organization?

Organizations that offer upward mobility generally have the following: