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Updated Sep 20, 2023

What to Include in a Promotion Letter

As your employees move up the ranks, it's important to formally acknowledge their achievements through promotion letters and announcements. Here are templates on how to write them.

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Max Freedman, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
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Each time you promote an employee, they should be sent a promotion letter to confirm their promotion, the increased pay rate, new responsibilities and more. A letter helps hold the employee accountable as they transition into their new role, and long after. Promotion letters don’t take long to write and don’t have to be as rigid as other business documents, though they should be formal.

What is a promotion letter?

A promotion letter formally details an employee’s new, higher position within your company. Typically, a promotion letter doesn’t commence discussions about promotions; instead, it is a follow-up to ongoing conversations you’ve had with the employee about the promotion. As such, it’s less about presenting new information than confirming all of the details you and your employee have discussed regarding their new position, pay and duties. It’s also a chance to congratulate them and express your gratitude to the employee.

What should you include in a promotion letter?

A promotion letter should include the following:

  • The employee’s full name and contact information: Although a promotion letter should be relatively casual, you should still list your employee’s contact information toward the top of your promotion letter.
  • The employee’s new title: In addition to pay and responsibility changes come new titles. You should indicate your employee’s new title in the promotion letter so they can include it in their email signature and share it on LinkedIn, if they want to.
TipBottom line
Don't forget to update the employee's title on your website and print updated business cards for them.
  • Relevant pay, work hours and payday changes: Even though you and your employee have verbally discussed what the promotion will mean for their pay, you should clearly state these details in your promotion letter. You should also indicate any changes in work hours or pay schedule that accompany the employee’s promotion as well as when these changes take effect.
  • The employee’s responsibilities in their new role: Promotions typically entail added responsibilities, and as your employee transitions between positions, some crucial business needs can be overlooked if the employee is unaware of their requirements. That’s why you want to clearly state all of the employee’s responsibilities in the promotion letter. In doing so, you hold the promoted employee accountable while keeping your operations on track.
  • The employee’s supervisor(s) in their new role: If your employee is appointed head of a department, they’ll likely no longer have someone within their department to report to; instead, they might report directly to you. Include this detail in your promotion letter.
  • The official start date of your employee’s promotion: A promotion doesn’t necessarily take effect upon delivery of a promotion letter. That’s why you should state when the new role begins. This way, there are no delays or missteps in the employee’s transition to their new position.
  • A request for the employee to accept the promotion: Even if your employee has verbally accepted the promotion, ask them to respond to your letter by providing a written response accepting the promotion. By doing so, your employee formally accepts their promotion and officially puts the gears in motion for their new role.
  • An expression of gratitude: A promotion letter also allows you to tell the employee how grateful you are for their work. Sure, a promotion is one way to show that you value and trust the employee (and their work), but including a personal message that expresses your gratitude is also a great way to reduce employee turnover.

How do you write a promotion letter?

In addition to the above tips, here are a handful of tips to keep in mind as you write your letter:

  • Use a formal template. Although promotion letters are less formal than other business documents, they should still adhere to some level of formality. Building your letter from a template helps you achieve this goal.
  • Edit and proofread the letter with a colleague. As with any business document, you should edit and proofread your promotion letter before sending it to the employee. Ideally, you should have someone else in your company – perhaps someone from your HR department – read a draft of the letter. This way, you catch any errors, such as an inaccurate pay amount or incorrect title, before the employee receives the letter.
  • Find the right balance between formal and casual. Yes, you can use an exclamation mark at the end of the sentence in which you congratulate your employee. Beyond that, stick to periods and avoid language you wouldn’t use in formal documents (though contractions are acceptable). Do not use slang abbreviations and emojis in your emails. While they may be common, these items do not belong in a promotion letter.
Bottom LineBottom line
When writing a promotion letter, begin with a template, use a formal but cordial tone and have someone from HR proofread the final draft.

Promotion letter example template

To build your promotion letter, copy the below example into your word processor and replace the relevant details as needed:

[Date]

To: [Name]

 [New title]

[Address]

Subject: Promotion for [Name of employee]

Dear [Name]: 

Congratulations on your promotion to [New title] at [Company name]! Your promotion is effective [Date on which promotion takes effect]. 

Your new salary will be [Salary] per year, paid [Pay schedule, e.g., semimonthly, monthly, etc.]. You will report to [Name of new manager and their title] and maintain your 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekday work schedule. [Name of new manager] is looking forward to working closely with you.

Your responsibilities will be to [Detail the employee’s new responsibilities]. Our employee handbook has additional details on what the [new title] role entails. 

Again, congratulations on your promotion. The company and I are very grateful for all of the work you have done to date – and the work you’ll do in your new role. If you accept this promotion, please reply to this email and acknowledge your acceptance of the promotion.

Sincerest thanks,

[Your name] 

[Your title]

Why is a promotion letter important?

There are several reasons why you want a promotion letter instead of verbally discussing, and then enacting, a promotion with no paper trail:

  • Promotion letters help ensure that intangible conversations are more concrete. It’s one thing for you and your employee to have a mutual interest in a promotion. It’s another, though, to ensure you both have the same understanding about the new role and duties and the transition to the new role. A formal promotion letter ensures that no details are left behind in the transition. The result is a promotion that pleases both you and your employee.
  • Promotion letters formalize pay changes. Many promotions include a pay raise, and you should always document such raises in writing.
  • Promotion letters outline new responsibilities. Transitions between roles – and the changes accompanying them – can be overwhelming. If the employee or you have questions, you can both refer to the promotion letter.
  • Promotion letters show gratitude. In business, it can be easy to focus solely on the bottom line. But this tendency can lead to you not recognizing the contributions of your employees. At the end of the day, demonstrating your gratitude to valuable employees can further motivate them. [Read related article: Your Employees Feel Underappreciated – Here’s What You Can Do to Fix It]

What is the difference between a promotion letter and a promotion announcement?

Although a promotion letter and promotion announcement may sound like the same thing, they serve different purposes and are typically used at various stages of the promotion process.

A promotion letter is a formal document sent to the employee who is being promoted. Its primary purpose is to officially communicate the promotion to the individual, outline the details of the new role, and provide information regarding changes to salary, benefits and reporting relationships. 

A promotion announcement is sent to the broader organization (e.g., colleagues, managers and other stakeholders) to inform them about an employee’s new position. Its primary purpose is to inform the entire organization of the employee’s new role and responsibilities. It may also be used to celebrate the employee’s achievements and contributions.

What should you include in a promotion announcement?

A promotion announcement should be clear, concise and professional. It should also be aligned with the company culture and brand.

A promotion announcement should include:

  • Congratulations to the promoted employee: Start the announcement with a positive message congratulating the employee on their promotion.
  • Effective date: Specify the date when the promotion becomes effective. This is important information for both the promoted employee and their colleagues.
  • An introduction of the promoted employee: Provide a brief introduction of the promoted employee, such as their name, title and department. This is especially important if the employee is not well known to the company.
  • Employee history and accomplishments: Mention the employee’s key achievements, qualifications and contributions to the company that led to their promotion.
  • New reporting structure: If applicable, outline any changes in the reporting structure. Mention the name of the person the promoted employee will report to in their new role.
  • New employee role and responsibilities: Explain the employee’s new title, department and key responsibilities.
  • An encouragement of congratulations from others: End the announcement by encouraging other employees to congratulate the promoted employee.

You can customize the promotion announcement even further by including a photo and/or quote from the promoted employee, as well as a link to the promoted employee’s LinkedIn profile.

FYIDid you know
It's always a good idea to email a formal promotion announcement. However, it can also be coupled with an announcement during a meeting or via an internal messaging platform like Slack.

Promotion announcement example template

To build your promotion announcement, copy the below example into your word processor and replace the relevant details as needed:

Subject: Promotion Announcement for [Employee name]

Dear team,

I would like to take a moment to congratulate [Employee name]! I am pleased to announce [Employee name]’s promotion to [New position] effective [Date on which promotion takes effect].

[Employee name] has been with [Company name] for [X] years and has worked in [Department name]. During their tenure here, [Employee name] has consistently exceeded expectations and made significant contributions to the team. 

Some of [Employee name]’s key accomplishments include:

  • [List of accomplishments] 

In their new role, [Employee name] will report to [Supervisor’s name] and will be responsible for [List of responsibilities].

I am confident that [Employee name] will excel in this new position and continue to be a valuable asset to our team. Please join me in congratulating [Employee name] on their well-deserved promotion! 

Sincerely,

[Your name] 

[Your title]

Be sure to proofread your promotion announcement carefully before sending it out.

Skye Schooley contributed to this article.

author image
Max Freedman, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
For almost a decade, Max Freedman has been a trusted advisor for entrepreneurs and business owners, providing practical insights to kickstart and elevate their ventures. With hands-on experience in small business management, he offers authentic perspectives on crucial business areas that run the gamut from marketing strategies to employee health insurance. Freedman's guidance is grounded in the real world and based on his years working in and leading operations for small business workplaces. Whether advising on financial statements, retirement plans or e-commerce tactics, his expertise and genuine passion for empowering business owners make him an invaluable resource in the entrepreneurial landscape.
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