Seniority cum merit based promotions


Management mostly prefers merit as the basis of promotion as they are interested in enriching its human resources. But trade unions favor seniority as the sole basis for promotion with a view to satisfy the interest of majority of their members. The management, in these days of trade unions’ regulation and control, cannot go for merit or ability as the sole basis of promotion.

Even if the management goes for enriching its human resources, most of the employees may be dissatisfied with the job resulting in instability of employment, non-commitment, disloyalty, high rate of absenteeism culminating in grievances and industrial disputes. In addition, if most of the young blood is promoted, the human resources at the higher level may lack maturity, stability of mind and the skill of judgment. A number of benefits are tied to the length of service giving the impression to the employee that the benefit of promotion is also linked to the length of seniority.

Though much can be said in favor of seniority, it cannot be taken as the sole basis in view of its effects on organizational effectiveness. Similarly, merit or ability cannot be taken as the sole basis in view of its limitations as discussed above. Hence, a combination of both seniority and merit can be considered as the basis for promotion satisfying the management for organizational effectiveness and the employees and trade unions for respecting the length of service. In fact satisfying the employees and trade unions will also result in organizational effectiveness through organizational stability, motivation, loyalty and commitment of the employees. A balance between seniority and merit should be struck and a new basis is to be developed. There are several ways in striking the balance between these two bases, viz.:

Minimum Length of Service and Merit: Under this method all those employees who complete the minimum service, say five years, are made eligible for promotion and then merit is taken as the sole criteria for selecting the employee for promotion from the eligible candidates. Most of the commercial banks in India have been following this method for promoting the employees from clerk’s position to officer’s position.

Measurements of Seniority and Merit through a Common Factor:
Due weight age is given to seniority and merit (for example 40% for seniority and 60% for merit).
Length of service is measured by points by the help of assigned weight age (for example one point for every six months of completed service) with a maximum of 40 points.

Merit is also measured by points with the help of assigned weight age (for example maximum 20 points for academic achievement mostly suitable to the new job, maximum 10 points for past employment performance and maximum 30 points for the suitability of the candidate for future job which can be judged through tests and interview.

Points assigned to a candidate under both the heads of seniority and merit are added up for example if a candidate has 10 years of service and is assigned 20 points for seniority and if 15 points are assigned for his second class graduate degree and first class post-graduate degree if 5 points are assigned for his past performance on the job and if 10 points are assigned for his performance in tests and interview, his total merit is determined as 50 points for a maximum of 100 points.

Merit list is prepared and candidates for promotion are selected on the basis of their ranks( for example if there are three candidates for one post, viz., X, Y, and Z and if their merit points are 50, 75, and 60, the second candidates, i.e. Mr. Y is selected for promotion.

Minimum Merit and Seniority:
In contrast to the earlier methods, minimum score of merit which is necessary for the acceptable performance on the future job is determined and all the candidates who secure minimum score are declared as eligible candidates. Candidates are selected for promotion based on their seniority only from the eligible candidates.

Management promotes the employees on any one of these bases depending upon the internal and external environmental factors. Environmental factors include the size and nature of the organization, nature of the job, trade unions’ influence in addition to political factors or favoritism and reservations in promotions.

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