What do you do?
Working isn’t just something we spend most of our waking lives doing—it’s something that defines us. It’s part of our identity. Something we spend huge portions of our lives educating ourselves to become. We dedicate hours of our professional and our personal time toward achieving a career, so the title attached to that career is important. To our whole life.
You fancy, huh?
It’s no wonder then that there has been a shift toward more fancy or offbeat job titles. So what need does having a fancy title fill? In Canada, almost 4% of employees work very long hours (50+ per week) and in the USA, 12% of employees work very long hours according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). For many of us in the technology sector we’re part of that small percentage. The purpose of the title depends on the person using it, here are three different perspectives on the needs of a job title:
- Future Employee Need
Job seekers need job titles that communicate and engage them. They need to know what they are going to do at the company and in competitive talent markets, the titles have got to go further and ‘delight’ as well. Delight in UI/UX is defined by Martin Gittins as an “unrequired functionality’… “Which can have a powerful effect on how the website is perceived and experienced.” In this case, how a job is perceived and experienced is profoundly impacted by the title—it’s what grabs the prospect’s attention.
- Current Employee Need
While a promotion and raise might not be a viable option in the budget, title changes are free of charge. Many articles advise early talents on how to ask for a better job title at work. Further to that, the very activity of reflecting on your own role and identity within your company may assist employees in expressing their identity. Studies have indicated employees who choose their own title report reduced stress, burnout and overall emotional exhaustion.
- Business Need
Have you ever changed your name? While breaking down status and barriers through a playful job title change might sound like a quick-fix for HR it can be a massive undertaking on the back-end of a system. Further to that, employers sometimes use job titles as code-phrases for determining what someone’s position is within a company. Are you an associate or a senior? Changing the system can have unwanted social side effects in that people can no longer encode their position into a signature line.
Culture, company size and corporate brand are going to be what really determines a job title’s purpose within your organization. If you’ve already got a jeans-and-t-shirt vibe to your communication plan, then you may want to revisit job titles to add a more playful flare. If you’ve been using a well-established title system encoded to positions, reconsider the implications of changing (or not).
Do you have another perspective? Let me know in the comments section.