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Why Job Titles Make No Sense

How the obsession over job titles is ruining productivity in the workplace.

There is no doubting that in large corporations, job titles with set job specifications make sense but what about in a start-up or smaller business model? There has been increasingly loud debate that job titles can do more damage than good.


The Perils Of Titles

Within a start-up or smaller business model, employees can be accused of getting fixated on titles and personal growth rather than good of the company. Within this framework, job roles are increasingly blurred as companies change and roles blur as employees need to focus on flexibility rather than what they deem is right for their title. Within the 'title nightmare,' millennials have been increasingly sighted as becoming overly obsessed with wording and deem exercises or tasks easily beneath them according to their increasingly over-inflated job titles.

Another main problem with job titles within a small company is that most of them have no actual bearing on qualification. For example, in a small editorial team, someone may call themselves a 'Lifestyle Editor' without the experience or actual knowledge of this role. This might seem harmless enough, but as a team expands and their seniority doesn't, that person may have problems taking direction as they deem themselves worthy of an 'Editor' title without merit.


Trends and Traditions

The other problem of job titles is that they are simply losing their meaning within a modern workplace. Where 15 years ago, it was called the 'Personel' department, it then became 'Human Resources' and is increasingly changing to the likes of 'People Talent' or 'Talent Services' which can be confusing for employers from more traditional corporations. In larger companies, the career ladder is clearer and more simple, allowing people to try to excel in their current job role to be promoted to the next rung on the ladder, but where the lines are now more blurred in smaller companies, this can help take initiative away from employees who feel their job title fits and they have no need to worry about progression. 


You Are More Than Just A Job Title

A recent study by Forbes magazine revealed that over 58% of the workforce in the US, when asked what they do for a living, offered up their job title rather than an explanation of their role. This worrying trend suggests the modern workforce is equating what they do with their title, taking away creativity and drive. This can also be problematic when looking for a new role as recruiters want the candidate to differentiate themselves from the rest of the applicants, not hide behind a title. 


So, what can you do? 

There is no doubt that start-ups and small businesses face a problem with a younger workforce determining their value on their job title but this is easily eradicated by equaling the playing field. One such business doing this is Hello Alfred, who simply refer to people in teams, rather than individual titles, which they claim helps overall productivity. Another method of helping company vs self is to focus on what the individual is doing for the company or team vs what they feel they are doing personally in their reviews and team briefings. And while scrapping titles or changing dynamics can be worth it in the end, the most important thing is not to expect change or company satisfaction overnight. With so many people so invested in their titles, change, although necessary, will have to be slow and very steady. 

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