What do you call the people who work for you?

And do you say work ‘for’ or work ‘with’?

Are you a boss and do you have employees who work for you or do you take a different approach? Have you left traditional labels behind and opted for modern terms such as team, associates or even partners, as in the case of John Lewis?

Here at Paycircle, we’re all partners. We are working together to build software products for modern businesses and we all share the responsibility for developing and growing our business. We’re a team, we work as a team and we grow together as a team.

In our product, we refer to people as team members and we’re aware that this is not traditional parle in the world of payroll and pensions. Payroll pays employees and pension schemes have members. So what are we up to ditching tradition and using our own lingo – who exactly do we think we are?

We’ll apologise now to anyone who finds Paycircle’s references to team members offensive or confusing. That’s not our intention. It’s just that the word ’employees’ as a collective term for a group of people who work together just doesn’t, well, sit right with us. Nor does it sit right with a large proportion of our users.

The term ’employee’ carries a lot of baggage and can imply a division, a ‘them and us’ mentality. Many of the companies who use Paycircle invest heavily in their company culture and promote it when they’re hiring. They steer away from using the term employee as it doesn’t accurately describe the group of passionate individuals who work in their businesses. 

On the other hand, there are companies who refer to their employees as ‘crew’ or ‘associates’ to give the appearance that they modern employers when in fact these are merely token gestures and the hierarchy and ‘them and us’ culture is rooted very deep. This is a sticking plaster approach or as we like to call it, putting lipstick on a pig.

Of course, for the purpose of compliance or when explaining matters relating to legislation, when the terms ‘Employer’ and ‘Employee’ are required we will and do use them. We will often use a mixture of terms. In fact, whatever is needed to explain a process, give clear instructions, comply with regulations or generally get a point across.

If you’re wondering, here at Paycircle, we haven’t gone as far as some. We don’t have kooky job titles such as ‘Chief Amazement Officer’, ‘Crayon Evangelist’ or ‘Ambassador of Buzz’, we’re just Partners. But we do believe that how people refer to each other in the workplace has an effect on how people feel and the culture that’s created. This is why we plumped for the term ‘Team’ instead of ‘Employees’ in our app and we really hope that even if you do find it awkward or a bit too new age, you can overlook it for the sake of the software.

Catherine Pinkney

Posted on Wednesday 19 Sep, 2018, 3 months ago

September 28, 2018

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