Why do promotions tend to happen in July, and job moves take place in January?

Promotions, turnover and staff retention are all daily, predictable facets of any business. If the balance is correct, the result will be a stable, productive working environment. Should this balance be off kilter, however, the company culture, morale, and even effectiveness of staff will see the consequence. Within highly competitive organisations in the legal sector, for instance, such changes can often take place on a far faster timeframe. It is essential, therefore, that law firms aim to maintain their ideal workforce.

To achieve this, organisations must first look to the reasons top talent leave an organisation. One such issue is known as the January ‘jobs rush’. While attributed by many as nothing more than a phenomenon, in reality, it is attributable to simple logic. The most common reasons why employees choose to leave their current company boil down to three key areas: money, boredom, or the need for a new challenge. When staff return from leave, fresh with New Year’s resolutions and suffering from the all-encompassing post-holiday blues, any negative aspects within your company will naturally be amplified.

Further than simply disagreeing with company culture, one potential reason for a job move in January is that of finances. Put simply, the Christmas period is a time of excess – we all spend more money during the holiday season than at any other time of year. When employees return to the office, a salary that was at one point sufficient may no longer be enough to manage the short-term credit card bills from the month prior. This prompts many people to think that they might need to think about getting a new job where they can earn more and pay back what they owe sooner.

In addition, the end and beginning of the year is bonus season for a number of sectors – law included. It stands to reason that employees moving on for pastures new will not look to risk their bonus package – instead, leaving directly afterwards.

The search for more money isn’t always the greatest motivator; a lot of the time it is the need for a new challenge that drives employees elsewhere. If their current role doesn’t fulfil them as it once did, then it follows that the New Year is the perfect time for them to seek to make the change. Promotions, on the other hand, are a different beast entirely. To many, it would seem that July is an unusual time of the year for staff to be promoted – but there is, however, a very good reason for it.

The summer slowdown, where projects sit on a brief hiatus as employees make use of their annual leave allowance, starts in mid-July and typically ends in the last week of August. June and July, naturally, mark the mid-way point of the year. While January often sees the new plans for the business put into effect, June and July is where the success of those plans is assessed. Mentally, we begin to feel that we are fast-approaching the end of the year.

This often prompts management teams to look inwards – identifying those necessary to driving the business closer to its long-term goals and objectives. From an employee perspective, they may also get to the mid-point of the year and then take stock of how their career has moved move forward. Have their resolutions from January come to fruition, or do they need to up their game plan to get to where they want to be?

Within the legal profession, continuity and consistency are key… reputation is everything. A firm that quickly loses its staff will soon see its client base follow suit. To address an issue, the organisation must first understand that it exists, and then identify why it happens. The January job-move is an issue that can be foreseen and mitigated, and July promotions are a key tool to secure your high performing staff for the foreseeable future.