Lots of us are employees. But some of us work at places that don't refer to us as 'employees.' Somewhere along the line, (I am guessing in the late 1970s, but I really don't know for sure), it became trendy, if not fashionable for organizations to move away from the more formal sounding term of 'employee' and start referring to their, well, employees using other terms.
Inspired by a weekend spent in heavy retail environments and overhearing an 'All available associates, please report to the front of the store' announcement, I started thinking about all the various terms that are now used by organizations to substitute for 'employee.'
And then I thought it made sense to rank said terms.
As always, this list is unscientific, unresearched, incomplete, subjective, and 100% accurate.
Here goes - Terms that mean 'employee', ranked:
10. Worker - About as cold as it gets. Unless you go with 'peon' or 'serf'. Which don't seem to be used (much), any more.
9. Co-worker - Slightly softer version of 'worker'. Still pretty cold though/
8. Staff member - As generic as it gets. Best used when the organization hates taking any kind of a stand about anything.
7. Teammate - Unless the 'team' is designed to kick a ball or run really fast, probably should not be used in the workplace.
6. Team Member - A little less cloying than teammate. But still not great. But yay - we are on a team!
5. Crew or crew member - Are you on a boat? Do you build boats? No? Then you are not on a crew.
4. Partner - This is actually sort of dumb. Unless the company is just made up of actual partners. Then it's ok.
3. Colleague - This actually would be the one I would choose if I had to choose. Rides nicely that fine line between 'touchy-feely' and 'we all just work here' that I like
2. Associate - a solid move if you for some reason need to move off of 'employee', but want to stay appropriately distant, yet convey a (fake) sense of importance to everyone in the organization.
1. Employee - Call me old school, but I still think the simplest solution is the best. I don't think anyone is really offended by being called an employee. At least I don't think so.
Did I forget anything? Hit me up in the comments.
And as always, you could disagree with these rankings, but of course you would be wrong.