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The King of Cashola or CFO, Which Do You Prefer?

If you could choose any job in the world, what would it be? King of Cashola, Prince of Payroll, Master of Awesome? This is exactly what one nonprofit allowed their employees to do and it resulted in an overwhelmingly positive response. Can it work for you?

A Creative Change in Title

Today we are seeing this strategy trending among many companies. Apple has its “Geniuses,” IBM has its “Data Detectives,” and Disney has its “Cast Members.” While these quirky job titles seem fun and playful, how effective are they really? Truth is that for some situations these titles might do an awful lot of good.

So good in fact, that a research study of self-appointed job titles published in the August issue of the Academy of Management Journal, suggested that they can reduce emotional exhaustion among stressed-out employees. The research, led by management scholar Adam Grant of Wharton, examined this practice at the Midwest chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Working at a nonprofit such as Make-A-Wish can take its toll on employees emotionally. When you are working diligently to fulfill a wish for a sick child and time isn’t on your side your stress levels may have a tendency to skyrocket.

During their trip to Disney one year, some Make-A-Wish executives were enamored by the “Cast Members” they met. They thought what a clever way to shed some positive light on employees. So in an effort to allow their own employees to focus on the joys of the job and not the hardships, they decided to let their employees invent titles, too. The CEO would now be the Fairy Godmother of Wishes, PR managers would be Magic Messengers and wish managers became Merry Memory Makers. As a result, 85 percent of employees said the new job titles helped them cope with the emotional exhaustion of the job.

Although this was a significant change in title, it was not in status, so why did it work so well? By choosing your own title, you are able to bring an element of yourself to the forefront, allowing you to focus on the positives when the job is difficult.

Will it Work for You?

What works for a nonprofit may not work for a law firm. Even if changing titles isn’t appropriate for your business, every employee wants to work in an environment where they can be challenged and engaged. For those companies who don’t have the freedom to change their titles, remember, even small gestures shown to employees can go a long way. It’s not always about providing the highest wages or benefits, rather, a simple “thank you” can carry a lot of weight.

People naturally want to feel appreciated. Are you currently acknowledging your employees for their hard-work? Recognition is a driving factor of engagement and, as we know, engagement drives productivity. In fact, people whose work is acknowledged may be as much as 47 percent more productive than those whose work is ignored. No matter what type of industry your company falls in, making your employees feel appreciated is important. You have nothing to lose, but everything to gain.