In Russia a lot of companies provide "outstaffing" services , but I am not sure whether it's used outside post USSR countries. Is "outstaffing" a real word?

Update: "Outstaffing" is when one company "Outstaffers Inc." provides service to a customer "XYZ Bank" by providing a full time worker. Basically employee of "Outstaffers Inc." becomes a full employee of "XYZ Bank". Except he get's a salary from "Outstaffers Inc.".

  • 2
    There's a problem with the notion "real word". I'm assuming that you want to know whether "outstaffing" is in an English dictionary somewhere, or whether it's used in Anglophone countries. If some people use a word that's not in a dictionary, and other people understand what that word means, then it's a "real word" but just a localism or a regionalism or slang. Even if it's used only in post-USSR countries, it's a real word if it's used and understood in business there.
    – user21497
    Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 10:59
  • It sounds like what we'd call an employment agency. I haven't heard the word before, but I guesses its meaning right away. Apparently, there is a company in the US that's named that.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 12:11
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    Interestingly but unrelatedly, you can add out- to just about any verb, but it means "in a manner that exceeds or surpasses and sometimes overpowers or defeats". Without having seen the rest of the question, I would have assumed "outstaff" simply means to staff more than anyone else. As in "I thought our department had more employees than any other, but when I checked the records in HR, I discovered we'd been outstaffed by the customer service department"
    – nohat
    Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 22:45
  • There is a company in the UK called Outstaff Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 14:32
  • Just as an irrelevant detail, in Europe if you worked for Outstaffers Inc. but were treated in all respects as an employee of XYZ Bank (other than who pays you) then legally you would gain all the rights of other employees of XYZ Bank (holiday, sick pay, etc). As one reason for outsourcing/staffing may be to avoid those rights, companies have to be very careful.
    – user184130
    Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 14:38

3 Answers 3


While I did not find the word outstaff in any dictionaries, a web search does turn up several companies named Outstaff or OutStaff, perhaps created as a portmanteau of outsource and staff.

In the U.S., the practice of long-term but indirect employment through a third party would be called contracting or hiring a contract worker. Even though direct employees may also have employment contracts, only third party employees are called contractors (contractor has many other meanings, however, so context is important); the contract is between the hiring company and the staffing company, contracting firm or employment agency which provides the workers.

A contractor may be distinguished from a temp, a temporary worker who might be brought in on a short-term basis for low-skill duties (e.g. basic clerical or reception work) while a regular worker is out, or who might be hired for a seasonal period. Contractors may also be distinguished from consultants, who are specialists temporarily hired for their specific knowledge in an area, as opposed to someone filling in for what would be an ordinary internal hire. The lines between a temp, a contractor, and a consultant can become quite blurry, depending on the specific employment situation, and relate as much to social status as to employment status.

When a job formerly handled by internal staff (whether employees or contractors) is assigned to an outside firm, the process is known as outsourcing or contracting out, and may be handled by an outsourcer or outsourcing company.


In Australia, we use the word 'outsourcing' to describe jobs done by others, in another country.

  • It's something like HR agency meets Outsourcing company. It's a customer who defines a need skillset of a worker and manages existing ones, but it's an "Outstaffing" company who actually employs this worker.
    – skfd
    Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 10:46
  • @skfd That is the definition of outsourcing in UK
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 12:42
  • Outsourcing doesn't necessarily take place in another country, though. At one time, a bank might have employed a janitor to sweep the floors and empty the wastebaskets. These days, the bank would almost certainly hire a housekeeping company instead of hiring directly (the housekeeping company, being specialists, can extract some efficiencies, lowering costs for the bank). The janitor's job has thus been outsourced to the housekeeping company, even though the tasks are exactly the same and in exactly the same place— and possibly even completed by exactly the same people.
    – choster
    Commented Apr 10, 2013 at 18:38
  • Outsourcing doesn't have to mean overseas instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainers/…
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jul 19, 2022 at 7:46

"Outstaffing" is not a real world, in a sense that it is only used in ex-USSR mostly by IT companies providing software development and outsourcing services. I believe in US and UK people call this business engagement model "secondment".

  • There's a big difference between outsourcing (transferring work to others in another company, perhaps with the staff who do the work, and usually intended to be permanent) and secondment (transferring staff but not their work to another department or company, usually intended to be temporary).
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Jul 19, 2022 at 7:14
  • I'm not sure I follow @AndrewLeach. I'm not saying outsourcing = secondment, I am saying outstaffing = secondment. Commented Aug 12, 2022 at 13:25

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