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We’ve become accustomed to rising consumer prices over the past couple of years as inflation reached multi-decade highs. Job titles can be inflated too. Some employers offer higher-ranking titles or, at least, titles that sound that way “without a pay increase or added responsibilities” as put it.

A 2023 survey from Pearl Meyer, an executive compensation consultancy, found that companies are using titles to attract, reward, and retain employees more often than before. About 13% of employers used job titles to “recognize and/or reward employees when funds are limited,” up from 8% of employers in Pearl Meyer’s 2018 survey.

This can mean they’re assigning higher-ranking titles or designations that are more “creative” and “flashier,” said Rebecca Toman, vice president of the survey business unit at Pearl Meyer.

For example, Toman said some organizations might call employees “data ninjas” or “finance wizards.” But this could backfire on employers if there isn’t a pay increase to accompany the strategy. “It shouldn’t be the only strategy that is implemented because at the end of the day, cash usually is still king,” Toman said.

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