Staff can be composed of directors, employees, contractors and other contingents. Can any give me a word that will describe all of these types of people?

Colleague doesn't work as that's when talking about your colleagues, I've seen associate but I'm not crazy about it, but if it's all I've got, it's all I've got.

Is there a canonical term out there that describes what I'm after? I'd imagine it'd be used like this: The staff of Acme Corp is composed of talented {x}s

This may not be a corporate entity; it could be a school or a small business for example. Actually as I type it, a school's a good example - it's got teachers, a principal, at least one vice-principal, caretaking staff, cleaning staff, etc. What would one word be to describe all of these people?

  • 5
    ....composed of talented professionals!
    – user66974
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 19:57
  • 6
    I'd say staff member, but is there any particular nuance that you want beyond this?
    – herisson
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 19:59
  • 3
    "The staff of Acme Corp is composed of talented...", people, employees, individuals, etc.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 20:04
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    @noonand People who are in receipt of some form of remuneration from a company are typically known as that company's employees. It's true that companies may sometimes engage 3rd party contractors who are not technically employees, but in that case, they're not usually considered part of the company's staff either.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 20:13
  • 2
    Earlier I thought of "staff worker" before I saw the suggestion, "staff member", but I didn't think you would want two staffs leaning against the same sentence. Personnel or faculty could be options in some applications. "Exceptionally accomplished personnel", or "extraordinarily specialized faculty" might sound pretty good. Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 21:03

2 Answers 2


The word staff used in this sense is already singular. It derives from the idea of support provided by a stick, a staff or stave.

It was originally a military term - for a staff of officers:

  1. Mil. a. A body of officers appointed to assist a general, or other commanding officer, in the control of an army, brigade, regiment, etc., or in performing special duties (as the medical staff). General Staff, a body of officers controlling an army from headquarters under the commander-in-chief; hence Chief of the General Staff. Chief of Staff, the senior staff officer of a service or commander. [Apparently of continental Germanic origin. Compare the like use of German stab (also generalstab , regimentsstab , etc.), Dutch staf ; probably developed from the sense ‘baton’ (= 7

But it has come to apply to any organisation which is managed:

  1. a. gen. A body of persons employed, under the direction of a manager or chief, in the work of an establishment or the execution of some undertaking (e.g. a newspaper, hospital, government survey, school, etc.).

So I'm afraid the bad news is that since it is already singular, you cannot derive from it something which is "more singular". The only possibility, other than member of staff is to describe the person by name, e.g. the deputy assistant butler, twice removed. (Quotations from Oxford English Dictionary)

  • 1
    I'm taking this one and rolling with it. I'm using staff member (even though it contravenes my original single word tag - sorry!). Thanks for your help! :-)
    – noonand
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 8:04

There are some common words mentioned in the comments but there is a word derived from staff which is staffer. It is AmE but might not be that common. [The frequency is band 4 in OED]

OED defines as:

orig. and chiefly U.S.
A member of a staff.

a. Of a newspaper or journal: a staff writer.
b. More widely, of a business or other organization.
c. spec. of the President of the U.S.; a member of the President's White House staff.

  • 2
    Sounds like a good word to use, but I don't think it's a very common one; it's not here in UT, anyways. Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 21:22
  • Staffer is up there with associate (in being very AmE) but really good as well. Thanks for pointing it out especially meaning c
    – noonand
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 8:03

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