As we’ve gone through three decades of painful economic change, a whole new language has emerged as part of the managerialist efforts to soft soap hard decisions.
Along with “human resources” and “people management” (as if working people are cattle that need to be herded in the right direction), we’ve also got the deceptive language of the destruction of decent work.
We have “re-engineering, “right-sizing”, “right fit,’’downsizing” and other euphemisms designed to sugarcoat the harmful and very human outcomes of firings and job losses.
Productivity has become another word for expecting a whole lot more for a whole lot less.
And the latest fad is “Uptitling”, where having a fancy title for a job is supposed to compensate for lousy pay and insecure work.
The term “Associates” came to New Zealand a few years ago. Caterair and Marriott introduced this at Auckland Airport for their highly casualised catering staff, as if being given a fancy title meant the workers had some stake in a business, where they really had no say or control.
Uptitling is rampant overseas and it’s becoming a trend here too.
Receptionists have become “Heads of Verbal Communications”, Staff in Call Centres are “Client Liaison Officers” and the local rubbish collector is an “Environmental Facilitation Officer.”
Toilet cleaners are ”sanitation consultants” and leaflet delivers are “media distribution officers”.
From a financial perspective, uptitling is appealing to employers. They believe that rather than increasing somebody’s pay, all they have to do is give them a new fancy title. Employees will feel validated by their new status and maybe won’t pester their bosses for a raise for a little longer.