Afternoon all,

A colleague and I have put together an internal feedback form in our workplace, and had to amend the previous form from the word 'Agent', referring to the individual receiving the feedback. Agent is not applicable to all levels of staff so cannot be used, so I suggested just 'employee', which my colleague feels may come across as a little cold.

After looking through a thesaurus I'm still struggling to find an alternative that may be warmer or softer; does anyone here have any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

  • try 'business associate'.
    – Misti
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 16:50
  • Workmate is a warmer word. It is mainly used in BrE though.
    – ermanen
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 16:56
  • 2
    Would 'colleague' sound too formal? : a fellow worker or member of a staff, department, profession, etc
    – user66974
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 16:59
  • 1
    Thanks all, colleague is actually what I think we will use, it is a formal process after all! Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 12:20

4 Answers 4


"Colleague" is sometimes used here in the UK to mean "someone who works for the company", in a softer and more egalitarian sense than "employee".

It's mostly been put forward in this sense by entrepreneur and management guru Julian Richer. He's advised some of our major high street firms (Halifax, Asda, M&S) so these days it's pretty usual to hear a "colleague announcement" in the supermarket (it would formerly have been a "staff announcement").

  • Thanks to Richer Sounds we now have holiday homes for colleagues...

  • the stars of the show are the colleagues who work in-store.

John Timpson: why I rate Richer Sounds, The Telegraph, 12 Sep 2010

  • News, views and photos from Asda colleagues around the country

Asda Green Room

  • Dear colleague, At Marks & Spencer we are committed to doing the right thing, the right way, for our customers, colleagues, shareholders, suppliers, the environment and our local communities.

Message from the Chief Executive, Marks and Spencer, Code of Ethics and Behaviours September 2012

  • 1
    +1, suits me! Thanks for the answer and the detailed response, I'm not sure why that word didn't spring to mind in the first instance! Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 12:21
  • No worries @DanRoberds. It was there in your mind already as you use it twice in your question! ;) But the 'traditional' meaning is more like 'someone you work closely with at the same level' (your peer), as opposed to this new-ish meaning of 'someone you work in the same company as'. In fact that's the reason the 'new' meaning is softer than 'employee' - it implies that all the employees in the company are in essence peers, or at least that they're all equally valued as people.
    – A E
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 12:25

The go to phrase in my company is team member.

The benefit of "team member" over "employee" is that it reinforces the idea that we work together, and are part of a greater whole, whereas "employee" reinforces the less important employer-employee relationship.


  • Thanks for the answer Nick2253. Team member in our organisation would give the impression of a more junior role, which is the sole reason I didn't choose this as an answer, +1. Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 12:19

Consider the role the person is playing in the document. Are they a reviewee (the person whose performance is being formally reveiwed), as opposed to a reviewer (the person who reviews and provides feedback)? Although most staff will ultimately experience both roles over a year, for the purposes of the policy, they are only playing one role at any one time.

If it's just unsolicited or sporadic feedback, provider of feedback and recipient of feedback might be the simplest answer. Afte the first mention, you can drop the 'of feedback'.

Employee probably feels cold because it emphasises the wrong thing - the employment relationship between the organisation and the worker, as opposed to the relationship between the person giving feedback and the person it's about.

Colleague may work, but can seem formal because it's used as a catch-all term so often. It means 'someone who works with you' and emphasises that you both work for the same company, it is probably fine for a form for feeding back on staff at a similar level, provided you can generally write "your colleague" rather than "the colleague" which undermines the collegiality. When used by very senior staff to refer to very junior staff it can feel condescending, however.

Peer means 'someone who is similar to you in status'. It is quite formal and in most cases in cases colleague would be fine as well. Typically peers are people who have a similar job title and one does not report to the other.

Member of staff or staff member is perfectly acceptable and is somewhat warmer than the other options but cumbersome to use, especially if you end up trying to use it in constructions like the other member of staff.


Perhaps co-worker?


A person with whom one works, typically someone in a similar role or at a similar level within an organization

Colleague (already suggested twice) sounds like a good option as well.

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