How to Prevent Job Titles from Losing Their Value?

By Laura Morgan, Managing Partner at MorganHR

Job titles are not free, so why are companies passing them out like candy?

If you’re not careful, wrongly staging your employees’ careers could be like promoting a first grader to eighth grade. They will lose out on necessary skills that are taught along the path and will end up being in an artificially high position with more responsibilities (and expectations of their own) than you intended. How to Prevent Job Titles from Losing Their Value?

Title inflation is nothing new.

HR departments have been rebranding their employees with creative titles for a while now. But has this had a negative impact on our work culture? The proliferation of new job titles may be an attempt to make oneself look better than what they are, or it could simply be an attempt to distinguish between different levels of responsibility within a department. It could also be seen as an opportunity to create a more inclusive and empowered workforce. Whatever the reasoning behind it, there are some major issues that come along with title inflation, and it’s imperative that we prevent it from happening.

Let’s take a simple example to see what title inflation might look like.

Say you have an employee who is solely in charge of all of your marketing efforts. They aren’t an analyst, since that title implies the specialization of one avenue or process. They’re likely a director. But what is their actual title? If your instinct was to say Marketing Director, you’d be right! What happens when you assign them a Director of Marketing role? Suddenly someone who should, on average, be paid around $80k/year (according to Glassdoor in Chicago) searches their job title and finds that they should be making $128k/year. See the problem? Suddenly your Marketing Director is convinced they are underpaid, and they are likely going to come to you about it.

So, your Marketing Director is given a “Director of Marketing” title. Beyond the salary inconsistency, the employee now has Director of Marketing on their resume. There are certain skills that are learned while on the path from Director Right to Director Left, and making that leap inhibits that learning, much like my first to eighth-grade example earlier (unless you have a robust training plan that will get them up to speed before the first performance review). What if the seven-year-old were to transfer schools? Can they fulfill the role of an eighth-grader in this new environment? Most likely not, so why would you set your employees up for the same failure?

Having a fair and accurate organizational design is crucial for the confidence and success of your employees.

I encourage you to look into your own organization – are your job titles accurate to the work your employees are doing? If not, I am more than happy to help.

About the Author: Laura Morgan

As a founder and owner of MorganHR, Inc., Laura Morgan has been helping organizations to identify and solve their business problems through the use of innovative HR programs and technology for more than 30 years. Known as a hands-on, people-first HR leader, Laura specializes in the design and implementation of compensation programs as well as programs that support excellence in the areas of performance management, equity, wellness, and more.