'We don't call them staff,' he said. Why not? Both words are flattering rather than accurate. Originally, a staff was a length of wood, used by a walker or a shepherd. Later, it became a badge of office. Military officers carried a staff, and hence became known collectively as 'the staff'. It never applied to mere footsoldiers, however, and when carried across to industry it excluded manual and other non-salaried workers. To call all your employees staff is really rather generous. 'Team' is a favoured word today, suggesting a voluntary commitment to a common purpose. But that's not its oldest sense: a team was originally two or more animals harnessed together to drag around a heavy object - for instance, a plough. A common purpose, certainly, but nothing voluntary about it. Still, it's not what you call people; it's how you treat them.
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