What does Personnel Mean? Definition and examples

The people employed in a company or organization are its personnel. We also use the term for members of the armed forces, as in “all military personnel were told to be on standby.”

Personnel also refers to a department within an organization that deals with its staff. Personnel, in this context, or the Personnel Department, has a similar meaning to Human Resources (HR) or the HR Department.

What does personnel mean
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If you work in a small company and are in charge of personnel, you handle everything related to recruiting, hiring, interviewing, and assessments. You are also involved in dealing with compensation-related issues, i.e., anything to do with workers’ wages/salaries.

Personnel Management

Personnel management is all about recruiting, using, and maintaining a satisfied and motivated workforce. Personnel managers try to make sure that employees have an optional relationship with each other and their employers.

According to the Management Study Guide:

“Personnel management includes the function of employment, development and compensation- These functions are performed primarily by the personnel management in consultation with other departments.”

“It is an extension to general management. It is concerned with promoting and stimulating competent work force to make their fullest contribution to the concern.”

Personnel vs. staff

Even though the words personnel and staff are synonyms, sometimes they are not interchangeable.

When talking about a company’s department, we can say the Personnel Department but NOT the Staff Department. In accounting, we say personnel expenses but NOT staff expenses.

If I say, “He is staff,” it means that he is an employee in the company. I CANNOT say “He is personnel.”

Personnel vs. Personal

Personal means private, i.e., just for that individual. If I send somebody a personal message, it means I don’t want anybody else to read it – it is a private matter. If an office colleague asks me why I did not come to work yesterday and I answer, “I had to deal with a personal matter,” it means that I had to deal with a private matter.

Personnel, on the other hand, means a company’s employees or workforce.

There is also a difference in pronunciation.

  • PersoNNEL has the stress on the second syllable.
  • PERsonal has the stress on the first syllable.

Personnel is vs. Personnel are

  • Singular

When talking about the department in a company, we use the singular verb, as in: “Personnel is on the second floor,” (this means that the personnel department is on the second floor).

  • Plural

When talking about the company’s workforce or employees, we use the plural verb, as in: “Our personnel are highly trained professionals,” (our employees are high trained professionals).

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