What is an Employee?

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If you work for a company and receive a salary, you are an employee of that company. The entity that hires an employee is an employer, while the verb is to employ.

So, we can say: “I am an employee of that company. That company is my employer – it employs me.”

An employer may be a person, company, charity, association, farm, or the government, to name a few.

There are many words in the English language with the same or similar meaning to the term “employee,” such as worker, staffer, personnel, staff member, team member, laborer, associate, hire, jobholder, operative, and workman.

Collins Dictionary has the following definition of the term:

“An employee is a person who is paid to work for an organization or for another person. For example: ‘He is an employee of Fuli Bank. Many of its employees are women.'”

Types of employees

Employees are typically distinguished by their role in the organization and the details of their contract.

If they work 35 to 40 hours a week, they commit to a standard workweek; we call them full-time workers/employees. Others may be part-time, or temporary.

Employees exist throughout a company’s hierarchy. They may be involved in manual labor, clerical work, management tasks, to highly specialized roles such as research, robotics, or engineering.


In this context, compensation refers to wages or salaries, health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off.

Everything workers receive on top of their salaries are known as perks or fringe benefits. They form part of employees’ employment packages and are important factors in job satisfaction and security.

A written definition of employee and drawings of different types of employees.
Image created by Market Business News.

Employee and worker

In legal and formal contexts, the terms “worker” and “employee” encompass all employees, including managers and executives.

However, in everyday speech, there is a subtle difference.  A worker in a Ford Motor Company factory is also an employee because they work for the company and receive a salary.

However, most of us would describe a top Ford executive as an employee, not a worker. We tend to interpret workers as employees who do manual work or work in offices below management or supervisory levels.

Etymology of “employee”

Etymology is the study of the origin or words and how their meanings have evolved over time.

The term “employee” first entered the English language around the 1830s. It is derived from the French word “employé,” meaning “employed person.”

The French word “employé” comes from the verb “employer,” which means “to use, employ, or make use of.”

The French verb “employer” originates from the Latin “implicare,” which means “to involve, entangle, engage, or employ.”

Derivatives of “employ”

The term “employee” is a derivative of “employ.” There are many other derivatives. Let’s take a look at some of them, their meanings, and how we can use them in a sentence:

  • Employ (Verb)

To make use of; to use the services of a person.
Example: “The company decided to employ more staff to meet the increasing demand.”

  • Employee (Noun)

A person who is hired to work for another person or business for compensation.
Example: “Every employee is required to complete an annual performance review.”

  • Employer (Noun)

A person, company, or organization that hires and pays employees.
Example: “The employer introduced a new health benefit plan for all its workers.”

  • Employment (Noun)

The condition of having paid work; a person’s occupation.
Example: “She was looking for employment in the field of marketing.”

  • Employable (Adjective)

Suitable for and capable of being employed.
Example: “Graduates with technical skills are highly employable in today’s job market.”

  • Unemployable (Adjective)

Not suitable for employment; often due to lack of skills or qualifications.
Example: “Without any formal training, he was considered unemployable by most companies.”

  • Employability (Noun)

The quality of being suitable for paid work.
Example: “The course aims to enhance the employability of its participants.”

  • Employed (Adjective)

Having a paid job.
Example: “She was employed at a law firm for over five years.”

  • Unemployed (Adjective)

Not having a job despite being capable of and willing to work.
Example: “The unemployed engineer has been looking for work for several months.”

  • Reemploy (Verb)

To hire or employ again.
Example: “The factory decided to reemploy some of its former workers.”

  • Underemployed (Adjective)

Employed in a job that does not fully use one’s skills or abilities.
Example: “Many graduates find themselves underemployed, working in roles unrelated to their degrees.”

  • Overemployed (Adjective)

Working in too many jobs or for too many hours.
Example: “Feeling overemployed, he struggled to balance his work and personal life.”

  • Self-employed (Adjective)

Working for oneself as a freelancer or the owner of a business rather than for an employer.
Example: “She decided to become self-employed and start her own graphic design business.”

Video – What Does Personnel Mean?

This video, from our sister channel on YouTube – Marketing Business Network, explains what ‘Personnel’ means using simple and easy-to-understand language and examples.