7 Valid Reasons to Turn Down a Promotion

Published: Mar 16, 2022

 Changing Jobs       Salary & Benefits       Workplace Issues       
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Getting promoted is the goal—or at least that's what we're led to believe. The truth is sometimes a promotion can be less than ideal, especially as we move into a post-Covid climate.

The pandemic has made many people take stock of their jobs and careers. Some have found that they don't want to return to pre-Covid working environments, much less take a promotion. And here are seven valid reasons why turning down a promotion might be a step in the right—not wrong—direction.

1. You don't want to spend any extra time at work

Promotions are great in theory, but quite often the extra responsibility comes with more time in the office. And since additional hours can result in less work/life balance, this should always be a factor when deciding if taking a promotion is a good step for your career.

Today, work/life balance is more important than ever, and if you’ve managed to strike the right balance in the role that you're in, you could well find yourself reluctant to upturn the applecart. Extra time in work takes a toll on employees, especially those with caring responsibilities outside the home. With an increase of teams working remotely, it can be even harder to log off at the end of the day—and increased responsibilities will only make it trickier.

2. You don’t want to take on extra travel

A promotion may bring with it a lot more travel than your current position. This may be because you’re now managing a wider area than you did previously, or because a promotion may mean working from another office. Increased travel can also occur at a higher level because the increase in responsibility can take you to other sites to meet with stakeholders.

There are many reasons you may not want to travel for work. Perhaps you have family and caring obligations outside of work. It could be that the cost of the commute would offset any extra income the promotion might provide and so the thought of travelling isn't appealing. The idea of too much travel is an entirely valid reason to turn down a promotion.

3. You like your current job and don't want to climb that career ladder

You might find that your new promotion is more managerial, which takes you away from the day to day hands-on element of your role—which you love. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the job you're doing now and not wanting to change it. If this is the case, it may be worth turning down the promotion but negotiating a raise. After all, they clearly appreciate your work, so it’s definitely worth asking!

4. You want to spend more time on your side hustle/start-up

If you only use your day job as a means to finance your dreams of entrepreneurship, then it stands to reason that you shouldn't take on a promotion that will eat into your time and increase your levels of responsibility. Maybe your side hustle is starting to take off and you don't feel able to divert your attention with added stress from your current job.

Whatever the case may be, it’s true that the past two years have brought many changes in just about every industry, and many of these changes have been tech-related. For example, new technologies like small business phone systems have made running a business easier than ever. So, it’s no surprise you might want to spend more time on fulfilling your dreams instead of someone else’s.

5. You're not ready

You may be offered a promotion and feel that your skillset isn't quite at the level it ought to be for the role. This is a valid reason to turn down a promotion. However, it’s worth considering if it’s just self-doubt. Often, a lack of confidence and belief in yourself can lead to you falsely thinking you aren't ready for the next step.

It’s important to be career-ready if you want to climb the corporate ladder, and sometimes the best way to make yourself prepared for a new role is to do the job. So, if you find that you're still suffering a skills gap, you can approach your employer for extra training. After all, they wanted you in the role. This is all worth factoring in before turning down a promotion.

6. You don’t thing the money is worth the extra responsibility

The draw of the promotion is often the step up the career ladder and the step up the money ladder. Promotions may be well sought after, but the reality is that sometimes the extra responsibility isn't worth the compensation offered in return. This can be a difficult subject to approach with your employer, and it requires some tact. Turning down a promotion because the role expectations and money are mismatched is not the same as avoiding responsibility.

7. You think your mental and physical wellbeing will suffer

Taking on too much stress has a very real and very negative impact on your health and wellbeing. Physically stress can cause muscle tension, cramps, stomach acid, ulcers, and more. The long-term effects of stress on physical health are enormous and may not be worth the extra money.

Of course, it’s not only physical wellbeing at risk. People find their emotional wellbeing lower under a great deal of stress, and their anxiety and depression levels rise. More and more employers are sympathetic to this and are now employing managers who are trained to lookout for signs of burnout. However, if you’re worried about the stress being too much, it’s definitely a valid reason to turn down a promotion.

Final thoughts

Turning down a promotion can be difficult and involve conversations with bosses that require a lot of tact. If you feel that your reasons are valid but that you might want the job, you should consider asking your boss for a workaround to make the promotion advantageous to both parties. It's worth speaking to your company to help you negotiate a better deal for your move into the new role. Whatever decision you make, think it through thoroughly and be sure it's the right one for you.

Victorio Duran III is the Associate SEO Director at RingCentral, a global leader in cloud-based communications and collaboration solutions. He has over 13 years of extensive involvement on web and digital operations with diverse experience as web engineer, product manager, and digital marketing strategist.