Inflated Job Titles

Have you ever agreed to a fancy job title to boost an employee’s morale or attract more candidates to a position?

Seems reasonable enough and easy to do.  Simply add “chief”, “officer”, “manager”, or “champion” to a title and voila, it sounds more impressive and makes people feel more important. 

WARNING: inflating an employee’s job title can have major longer-term consequences for the employee and your organization.

💣 Here are just a few of the pitfalls of inflated job titles:

 💥Hiring Mistakes

Using a fancy job title to attract candidates is disingenuous and can entice people to your organization for the wrong reasons.  It can also create unrealistic salary expectations and if the job duties don’t match the job title, a new employee may be confused or completely disappointed.  

 💥Pay Inequity

Inflating a job title can create internal pay inequities. Two people, doing similar work of equal value should be paid fairly the same.  If you add Manager or Chief to one employee’s job title, for example, the expectation might be to pay this person more money.  If the duties are also not adjusted accordingly, then you are left with two people, doing similar work of equal value being paid very differently.   

💥Skillset Gaps

Assigning an inflated job title without an employee taking on higher responsibilities or learning something new pushes the employee beyond their skillset or expertise.  The employee would likely not be able to perform at the expected job title level is such a situation.

💥Internal Jealousy

Employees are observant. Employees talk.  If an employee assumes a new title for no apparent reason, other team members could become jealous or flat out angry with the employee, manager, and/or organization. 

💥Lack of Advancement Opportunities

Employees have an expectation to grow within an organization.  If an employee receives an inflated job title, they will quite frankly be ‘stuck’ until their level of knowledge and expertise catches up.  Since advancement opportunities are one of key drivers of satisfaction for employees, the employee who doesn’t seem any room to move is more likely to leave the organization.

 💥Excessive Benefit Costs

Many benefits and job perks are tied to an employee’s salary, ie. short and long-term disability, life insurance, retirement savings, bonuses, stock options, etc. If an employee has an inflated job title AND is also lucky enough to have a salary to match, the company will end up paying more than if the position and salary were appropriately assigned based on the employee’s skillset and the job’s worth in the organization.

💥Increased Severance Payments

Severance payment calculations are directly tied to employee’s salary, position description/job title and ability to find a similar role.  If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation where you must let an employee go, you could end up paying more simply because an employee has an inflated job title.

Conclusion, falsely ‘promoting’ an employee to a position that they are not qualified for, and perhaps is not needed in the organization, could be very costly on your company culture and bottom line.

We are not saying you cannot give an employee a creative or fancy job title, rather we are just suggesting that you give it serious consideration before you do.

Lastly, inflated titles should never be a substitute for a sincere thank you. 


Beverly Somers, HR Consultant