Job titles have been evolving over the years, and some of the emerging titles are indicative of where the world of work is heading.
Here are four emerging job titles we might see cropping up more and more in the coming years.
1. Chief Happiness Officer
A role solely dedicated to improving employees’ happiness sounds great in theory, but whether or not it’s a useful addition to a company depends on the purpose, structure and expectations of the role, says Clements.
“In many cases Chief Happiness Officer or Chief Heart Officer (CHO) roles are simply a rebrand of traditional HR roles in areas such as employee experience or health and wellbeing,” says Clements.
Importantly, despite what the title implies, employers should be wary that the CHO isn’t solely geared towards the pursuit of happiness for all employees.
“We have to be careful that these roles are not creating a culture of unrealistic positiveness but rather continue to be structured around best-practice frameworks that focus on identifying and addressing psychosocial risks, supporting employee wellbeing and creating psychologically safe team cultures.”
Although Rebecca Houghton, CEO of BoldHR, hasn’t personally encountered many organisations with a Chief Happiness Officer, she’s a strong proponent of the idea.
“There’s a strong culture and engagement piece to the role, and it could improve inclusion and diversity in the company,” says Houghton.
This is particularly true if the CHO establishes initiatives to support vulnerable groups in the workplace, such as migrants or single parents.
She also thinks while Chief Mental Health Officers and Chief Wellness Officers might take root in larger organisations, it’s smaller companies that may be more likely to appoint a CHO.
2. Chief Mental Health Officer
In response to increasing mental health concerns and greater emphasis placed on managing psychosocial risks in the workplace, many organisations have established a new position: the Chief Mental Health Officer (CMHO).
Rachel Clements, co-founder and Director of Psychological Services at the Centre for Corporate Health, says creating a role around mental health is indicative of how “organisations are putting mental health and staff wellbeing front and centre”.
“This is a fairly new space for organiastions. It’s only in the last few years that I’ve seen businesses start to appoint roles such as the CMHO.”
One such business is Commonwealth Bank, which appointed organisational psychologist Dr Laura Kirby to the position in January 2021.
Kirby says her role straddles two key areas.
“One is around how we support people’s mental health, particularly in the midst of COVID-19, and the other is around enhancing systems, making the workplace safe and healthy from a psychological perspective.”
To address the first point, Kirby and the wellbeing team at Commonwealth Bank have provided holistic wellbeing support for employees during lockdown and when working from home.
“We’ve supported teams to have good practices when working from home and have given them strategies for psychological detachment so they can maintain clear work-life boundaries.”
On the second point, Kirby has embedded a psychosocial safety framework and risk management system within the company’s broader health and safety model.
This has entailed evaluating work design, the structure of roles, managers’ expectations and mitigating the risk of psychological harm for certain positions, such as customer-facing roles that may expose employees to emotionally challenging situations.
All aspects of Kirby’s role are geared towards making an impact on an organisation-wide and systemic level.
“While you could have an entire role dedicated to individual case management, it won’t make a difference to the structure or system of work that could be causing the issue in the first place.
“If we create a healthy and thriving work environment for people in the first place, we limit the number of people who then end up feeling unwell. It’s a more preventative focus that identifies the work practices and looks for opportunities to improve upon those so people are much healthier and happier.”
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3. Chief Community Officer
Keeping culture alive in a hybrid world is now leaders’ number one concern, according to Gartner’s latest research into hybrid cultures.
Speaking at AHRI’s Convention last month, Aaron McEwan FAHRI, Vice President of Research and Advisory at Gartner, said: “Leaders aren’t asking me about productivity, interestingly enough, because every measure we get is showing us that productivity and performance have been [steady] – it’s starting to decline a little bit now, but there are different reasons for that… But everyone is petrified they’re going to lose their culture.”
[You can read more about the current state of workplace culture in HRM’s wrap-up of the Convention].
Introducing a Chief Community Officer (CCO) to your ranks might help companies to facilitate connections between employees and maintain a strong culture in increasingly dispersed workforces.
“It’s proving to be hard to rebuild connection at a distance, and it’s going to take an expert in behavioural psychology to work through how to make this work,” says Houghton.
“If we’re going to stay this physically disconnected, how do we rebuild our digital relationships in such a way to be as robust, but totally different, to what they were before?”
But CCOs won’t be able to create a supportive culture of psychological safety on their own.
“Building a sense of community and psychological safety within an organisation and its various teams heavily relies on the style of leadership exhibited by its senior leaders,” says Clements.
“The biggest predictive factor of an employee’s wellbeing in the workplace is based on the quality of the relationship they have with their direct manager… As well as Chief Community Officers, building the capabilities of an organisation’s leaders so they exhibit a supportive leadership style is a wise investment.”
Other employers might view the role of CCO as having a more outward-looking focus.
They might build and strengthen relationships with a company’s external stakeholders, including customers, suppliers and the wider public.
“The role could look more holistically at how to minimise the separation between the employee and customer,” says Houghton. “In a super fast-paced environment, and with more online communities, the CCO could help to connect an increasingly disparate group of people.
“Ultimately, it’s about connecting everyone: customers, candidates, employees and the community.”
4. Chief Sustainability Officer
People expect companies to not only support environmental causes, but to also walk the talk. There’s increasing scrutiny on companies’ emissions and expectation that they take steps towards a more sustainable future.
Does this mean we might be seeing more companies appointing Chief Sustainability Officers (CSO)?
A 2022 report by Deloitte and the Institute of International Finance suggests we might.
The companies’ research found that less than 15 per cent of survey respondents had a CSO in place at their workplace. Nearly half had a Head of Sustainability or equivalent position, and 12 per cent reported having a Head of ESG.
“We expect the role of the CSO to gain prominence over the next two years,” the report reads.
“CSOs see their skill set as primarily linked to strategy, influencing, raising awareness and making the repercussions of ESG concerns tangible for the people in their business.”
Whether they’re named a Sustainability Manager, Chief Green Officer, Director of Sustainable Design or another title altogether, dedicated environment roles will certainly be one to keep a close eye on.
These are just four examples of titles we could see emerging over the coming years. There are plenty others that will reflect the changing nature of work, such as the Chief Belonging Officer, the Head of Hybrid Effectiveness or Chief Metaverse Lead. What are some roles that you predict we’ll start seeing more of? Let us know in the comments section.