For decades, titles in many industries remained fairly standard; employees were managers, or representatives.
Now, many organizations have begun to forgo traditional titles for new, more unique monikers — such as publishing company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s receptionist position, which is referred to as the company’s director of first impressions.
Cleaning product provider Method, similarly, employs a sous chef-product development technician, according to Forbes.
A number of companies appear to be willing to consider alternative options. Less than half — 40 percent — said they expected titles to convey authority and responsibility, according to research from compensation advisor Pearl Meyer & Partners. Nearly a quarter give employees some latitude in determining their title.
Those companies may be on to something.
A study from the University of Pennsylvania and London Business School, published in the Academy of Management Journal in 2014, found allowing employees to help craft self-reflective, creative job titles resulted in reduced stress and emotional exhaustion. Employees also reported feeling their title had a positive identity expression effect.
Advertising Open Positions
Employees aren’t the only ones who can benefit from creative job titles. Companies can also utilize them to help convey their employment brand — an important asset in the recruiting and hiring process. In essence, the quirkier the titles are, the more innovative the organization may appear to candidates, potential clients and other parties — which can be a benefit for organizations trying to convey a sense of originality to differentiate themselves from competitors.
The downside of today’s new wave of job titles is that they can sometimes be confusing, which can make identifying appropriate candidates for open positions challenging. It isn’t always easy to tell, when scanning the resume of a jobseeker-slash-marketing ninja who was previously employed as a sales evangelist, if that individual would be a good fit for the position you need to fill.
Candidates who have held positions with unusual designations need to submit detailed resumes that highlight all relevant experience — enough that they’ll be a clear contender for the role, despite a potentially unclear title or two.
Companies bear a similar responsibility when promoting open positions that involve an unconventional name.
If your organization is considering incorporating creative job titles, consider the following suggestions:
Write a solid job description
If your company decides to opt for unusual titles, writing accurate job descriptions will be extremely important. For some fields, key terms should help candidates find your open position listing, even if it’s not under the name they anticipated. For example, several desired skills — including specific program knowledge and soft skills like customer service and written communication abilities — appeared most frequently in IT-related job descriptions, according to a recently released study from intranet software company Igloo.
Pearl Meyer & Partners’ research found nearly 30 percent of companies’ job titling practices differed from department to department, which can cause confusion about promotions and potentially affect retention. Try to weave some common themes and structure throughout your organization when implementing creative job titles for a stronger sense of cohesion with candidates and clients.
Be aware titles mean a lot to some employees. Although some may embrace an eccentric title, others may want a more traditional one. An employee survey can help you identify how the majority of your workforce feels about titles — and why.
Recent research from financial services company Earnest found adding the word “lead” to a title could be worth an additional $23,000 salary increase for workers age 18 to 35. If company leadership is tying compensation that strongly to job titles, employees may see a change to more unconventional names as a career setback … and they could, in some instances, be right.
Other Ways to Make Workers Feel Valued
Handing out creative job titles is just one way you can acknowledge employees.
Nearly a third of employees said they’d prefer to be recognized for their work instead of getting a $500 bonus, according to a BambooHR survey; a separate survey from employee recognition solutions provider BI Worldwide found turnover is nearly 18 percent less among employees who receive at least one recognition message during their tenure at an organization.
If you’re looking for new ways to reward and engage employees, consider these tips for creating the ideal employee recognition program; ideas to make employees feel like a crucial part of the team, regardless of where they’re located; our 10 cost-effective ways to increase your employee value proposition and a few effective incentives you can offer to compete in the talent market against companies that provide significant employee perks.