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Workers Say It's 'Who You Know' that Counts for Workplace Advancement

June 26, 2012 — More workers believe who you know is more important than job performance in order to get ahead in their organization, according to a survey by Right Management.

The survey of more than 500 employees throughout North America found that 44% think that "who you know" determines advancement, while 39% think it's job performance. For 4% it's job tenure, and another 13% say they have no idea because their employer never provides clear criteria.

"Workplace cynicism sure runs deep when merely 1 in 3 thinks it is merit that opens up opportunities or influences advancement," said Monica Morrow, senior vice president of career management for Right Management. "It's unfortunate so many workers think politics drives promotion. And it's certainly wrong, too, since organizations are doing more to identify promising talent and shape their development."

Additionally, that many respondents claim there are no clear criteria for advancement should be a concern to top management, Morrow said.

"If we add together the politics people and the puzzled group, we get 60% who aren't plugged into what ought to be open and fair development options," she said. "No wonder employers so often find their people so unsatisfied or disengaged from their work."

The survey of 516 employees from the United States and Canada was conducted between May 16 and June 15.

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