HALF OF OUR WAKING DAY
Considering we spend many hours a week with our colleagues, it’s no surprise that they often become an integral part of our lives. Whether they hired us, or we hired them, or we are just colleagues the people we spend our working days with become more than just people to small-talk with at the water cooler. In fact, some of our most lasting relationships can form this way.
With this in mind, we have to reconsider the language we use to describe our colleagues, particularly from an entrepreneurial point of view. The people that we hire are integral in our success, so why do we find ourselves using words like ‘employees’ to describe them? ‘Employees’ seems antiquated and clinical, and reinforces the idea of strict hierarchy within a business. In a time when it is more important than ever to work together as a symbiotic team of individuals who all have different skills and values, maybe it’s time to change how we refer to our colleagues.
One alternate word for ‘employees’ that is rising through the ranks is ‘team’. It may not be a big change, but it implies a sense of equality (that one should certainly reinforce in the workplace). The roots of the word ‘team’ have associations with family and lineage, which further reinforces this idea, and it can be reassuring to members of said team to feel included in this way.
Another word to use is ‘staff.’ It still has a formal, professional feel, but it removes the hierarchical implications and reinstates that each person within the staff is just as vital as the others. The etymology of ‘staff’ is related to the old English stæf, referring to ‘a strong pole used for carrying’, which evokes an empowering image of strength and importance, and helps you carry the weight of daily tasks.
It’s time to employ some new language within our teams! Perhaps you’re thinking ‘it’s only a word, why does it matter?’, but words are powerful. Even a subtle shift in language, in terms of how we refer to people, can make a real difference in how valued people feel in their jobs. And as every good businessperson knows, a team that feels valued is a team that excels.