Although it may seem insignificant when you're running your own company, for employees, being given a job title that accurately reflects their experience and the work that they do can be highly encouraging in the workplace. Even if you aren't able to offer a large raise in pay with each promotion, employees feel appreciated when the boss is paying close enough attention to what they do. This means adjusting their title as their responsibilities change.

I can't begin to count the number of times I've come across job postings for an entry-level administrative assistant, only to read the description and find that what they're actually looking for is a social media manager, event planner, digital marketer, and office administrator all in one. Why do so many people use job titles that are misleading? Often, it's because they don't have the budget to hire on an experienced professional, and they're hoping to recruit a recent graduate for the fraction of the price.

This plan inevitably backfires in one of two ways. A qualified candidate will resent being offered an entry-level salary and will either skip applying altogether, or burn themselves out from working too hard for not enough of a return. Alternatively, applicants who actually fit the entry-level job title will soon find that the expectations are more than they can handle.

Before you get caught in this trap, try using some of these helpful tips to ensure that your employees feel respected and valued.

Get specific.

When you go to create a new job title, rather than using a blanket term we've all heard a hundred times before, take a close look at what your employee will actually be doing for the company. You may have a number of people working in admin, but do they all do exactly the same job? 

Some companies like to take it further and come up with original, creative job titles, like Apple's "Geniuses", to encourage employees. Whatever you do, just make sure that the title accurately describes the job being done. The more specific you get, the more room you will have later on to offer a new role that reflects the change in responsibilities.

Talk to your employees.

You probably have a decent understanding of what each of your employees does, but often, what we think they'll spend the most time doing doesn't end up being the reality of their day to day job. That's why it's a great idea to check in personally with an employee and ask what they spend most of their time working on.

Be as transparent as possible. What title do they feel would explain the work they do? Keep this in mind when formulating their job title in order to ensure they feel that their ideas and feedback are taken into consideration.

Make use of levels like junior, senior and lead.

While it might seem like a step down to be referred to as a "Junior Designer" rather than just a "Designer", introducing levels that employees can climb allows for the potential to earn a more impressive job title over time.

New hires will be able to see that there is a clear line of growth. This automatically communicates that there is a senior role to aspire to. Added responsibilities also make employees feel valued. As their title changes, ensure that their skill levels reflect the heightened position. Recognizing that extra responsibility in the form of an updated job title enables employees to take pride in the work they do.

Published on: Nov 26, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.