Today’s New York Times article about funky pandemic-driven job titles (“Chief Heart Officer” “Head of Dynamic Work” and “Vice President of Flexible Work” to name a few) highlighted some new roles the pandemic has stimulated. The article also reminds us why job titles matter. Yes, job titles should communicate what the worker does. They also implicitly convey authority, role within the organization, and scope of responsibility. From a legal perspective, job titles matter because they also provide important information about complex legal issues such as overtime eligibility and worker status (as an employee or independent contractor) and job titles drive compensation decisions. The developing movement in many states towards pay transparency and the requirement that pay ranges be disclosed in job advertisements make job titles even more relevant, especially for compensation-setting professionals tasked with assembling and publicizing positions. So what is the salary range for a Chief Heart Officer? We may have to wait to find out until the next time the job is advertised.
Job titles have always changed with the times. The growth of new technologies in the 1980s gave rise to chief information officers. The flow of political figures into tech turned everybody into a chief of staff. Competition for talent in recent years has morphed heads of human resources into chief people officers. Now the rise of remote work has given way to new positions, whose lasting power has yet to be tested.