With thanks to all who participated, here are the results of my latest weekend poll. Our focus: What do you think of the recognition given to admin. professionals each April?
Not a universally observed event
I love writing for an international audience, and Weekend Polls such as my latest provide opportunities for all of us to benefit from insight of one another’s experiences. How so? For starters, Admin. Professionals Day and Week are well known in North America and are recognised in Africa, but are not marked in all countries. Even on this continent, practices can vary from one office or company to another.
In contrast, though, admin. professionals in other continents have access to professional development, recognition and resume enhancement through a number of awards programs that we don’t typically see in Canada and the US.
So what do the numbers look like? There’s an almost even split of responses among readers. 45% of respondents said that recognition is extended as part of Admin. Professionals Day, while 46% of you said it isn’t. How is the recognition of the occasion extended? Well, for 49% of respondents, it’s offered verbally. 26% of you said you receive greeting cards (down from 41% last year), and roughly one in four of you said that you receive flowers. Approximately a third of you will celebrate the event with a meal – whether it’s with your boss, peers or colleagues, or thanks to a gift card. Chocolates are almost a non-event; only 5% of respondents think they’re likely to receive some for Admin. Professionals Day.
What about a professional development (PD) opportunity in honour of the occasion? Almost 14% of respondents said they receive recognition in the form of professional development. That’s up slightly from 11% last year, and perhaps the increase bodes well for the future. When I asked people to describe the nature of the PD they undertake, the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) was the most frequently mentioned resource for this particular event.
What would be meaningful recognition to admin. professionals who mark such an annual event? While professional development was a very strong theme, it was in good company with very reasonable aspirations for acknowledgement, recognition of work well done, constructive feedback, and regular use of the simple phrase, “Thank you.” The fact that there was so much focus on a preference for acknowledgement and feedback is telling; it suggests that it’s not happening consistently enough.
Insights from my counterparts: Darragh, Peacock & Perrine
My Facebook and LinkedIn pages have been busy since I published this latest poll last Thursday. In addition to the poll itself, I heard from a few readers – including three of my counterparts many of you will recognise. I found their views, coming from different continents, interesting.
Julie Perrine, whom readers will recognise as the in-demand American author, speaker and trainer behind All Things Admin, said, “As an assistant, I never liked admin day/week. I always said, ‘If you can’t appreciate who I am and what I do for you all year long, then don’t bother on that day either.’ And I meant it. I had one set of execs I supported that always brought me ice blended coffees (long before they were all the hype) when they went out for coffee or took me out to lunch here and there and offered me event tickets when they had extras, etc. Their ongoing appreciation was more genuine than one obligatory day out of the year ever was in many of my other positions.”
A shifting of perspectives, and providing recognition while raising awareness of the profession
However, Julie added, “As a training company now supporting this audience, I recognize that this is sometimes the ONLY time of the year that some assistants get any appreciation or recognition. If there weren’t a day on the calendar to raise awareness of the importance of their role at the office, they’d get nothing. And so I endorse and support it now more than I ever did earlier in my career. We do some extra special things at All Things Admin for the entire month of April to show our appreciation and recognition as well. But really … it’s not a lot different than what we do throughout the year to support assistants worldwide. We just tie it into the one day some offices may actually pay attention so admins get all the love and appreciation they deserve. If we can help raise awareness of this awesome profession and role in the 21st century office in some way, then I’m all for it!”
Victoria Darragh is the London-based Founder of EPAA, The Executive and Personal Assistants Association. A sought-after speaker and winner of multiple industry awards, Victoria worked her way up the secretarial career ladder and ultimately joined one of the world’s leading specialist recruitment firms as an Executive Assistant before founding EPAA. Victoria has served as a judge for many prestigious Assistant awards panels, and regularly contributes to industry press.
Victoria’s views? “I’m sorry to say this but Admin Day/Week is not a big day for us in the UK and never has been. I’ve known about it for years but always saw it as an American initiative and I’m not criticising it at all, as I’ve seen some lovely stuff going on across the pond year after year.” Victoria noted that some international companies with UK offices do mark the occasion, and that there used to be a National PA Day.
PA awards celebrate talent and the profession
However, she observed that British PAs, EAs and their employers haven’t typically bought in to Admin. Professionals Day. Instead, she continued, “… we have so many PA awards here that this perhaps kind of negates the need for a day or week in many respects, because talent does get celebrated across many parts of our country and nationally too. Not to mention an abundance of internal awards and we have a PA category in at least two awards that are non PA-specific and are alongside other professions (hugely exciting for us). These awards get great exposure and also help celebrate the entire profession.”
Russell Peacock , the Chairman of Executive PA Magazine, also weighed in when he wrote me from the southern hemisphere. Based in Brisbane, Australia, Russell wrote, “There are no widely accepted equivalents in the UK, Asia or Australasia, apart from a few businesses that use the idea as a marketing initiative. Our readers and members are in the business of business management and whilst a recognition day may be an honest gesture of appreciation, it doesn’t really do much to help in that respect and is no substitute for hard information and genuine development opportunities.”
A recognition day is no substitute for genuine development opportunities
What of such development opportunities? As Russell wrote, “A recognition or development opportunity has to take you out of your comfort zone to be meaningful. At the risk of blowing our own trumpet, this is why the The Executive PA Awards were conceived years ago and have developed to become widely respected as a benchmark for excellence. They are the most rigorous awards that any PA can enter and for 2017 for the first time, we have opened them up to administration professionals in Canada and the USA.”
So, is the occasion relevant?
I’ll let you decide … but wouldn’t it be great to reach some common ground and a united position?
Read the data below, and you may also find the extremes of views intriguing. While 27% of respondents gave the occasion the lowest possible relevance rating on a scale of 1 to 5, another 22% of respondents gave it the highest possible relevance rating on that same scale. Dive in, and here’s to further conversations on professional development, recognition through competitive awards programs … and the evolution of Admin. Professionals Day.
Note: Information below reflects the percentage of respondents who selected specific responses from multiple choice options, and/or offered comments. In instances where more than one person offered similar responses to open ended questions, I clustered responses and did not duplicate all of them.
Does your executive/office team extend recognition of your contributions as part of Admin. Professionals/Management Assistants’ Day?
- Yes: 45.28% of respondents (compared to 35% in my 2016 Weekend Poll)
- No: 46.23% of respondents (compared to 59% in 2016)
- 8.49% of respondents selected “Other”, compared to 6% in 2016. Readers commented as follows.
- Admin Professionals Day / Week is not generally recognised in the UK
- Didn’t know it existed / My execs do not even know that there is such a day
- Not consistently / My direct executive does not but another executive I help does / They used to before the new management / Yes and no; some do and some don’t / One team does, one does not. My Director does not, my manager does. / But it’s not consistent around the organization
- Only as dictated by HR
Do you receive recognition of the day appreciation in conversation?
- Yes; informally so: 39.05% of respondents (compared to 59% in 2016)
- No: 48.57% of respondents (compared to 18% in 2016)
- Yes; this occurs formally and/or in a meeting: 10.48% of respondents (compared to 35% in 2016)
- 1.9% of respondents selected “Other”. One person commented, “By our Board of Directors Chair during our quarterly BOD meeting”, while another wrote, “They don’t even know it exists.”
Do you receive recognition in the form of a greeting card?
- Yes: 26.47% of respondents (compared to 41% in 2016)
- No: 70.59% of respondents (compared to 59% in 2016)
- 2.94% of respondents selected “Other”. What did these people say?
- No, thank goodness
- Yes, hand crafted by my supervisor’s wife
- flowers and gifts
Do you receive recognition in the form of flowers?
- Yes: 25.74% of respondents (compared to 18% in 2016)
- No: 69.31% of respondents (compared to 82% in 2016)
- 4.95% of respondents selected “Other”. Some commented, as follows.
- Sometimes; it’s not consistent
- No, and I’m happy about it
- One team has (been) in recognized in flowers over the years
Do you receive recognition in the form of a meal?
- No: 57% of respondents (compared to 56% in 2016)
- Yes; breakfast or lunch at a related PD (professional development) event: 3.7% of respondents (compared to 5.5% in 2016)
- Yes; lunch with my team: 14.81% of respondents (compared to 22% in 2016)
- Yes; lunch with my boss: 12.96% of respondents (compared to 5.5% in 2016)
- Yes; gift certificate for dining: 3.7% of respondents (compared to 11% in 2016)
- 7.41% of respondents selected “Other”. What did people say in their comments?
- No, and I’m happy about it
- Only as organized by HR; bosses tend not to attend
- Gift certificate for personal shopping, not a meal
- Invited to a pseudo related luncheon
- Yes; pizza for the whole company
- Yes, with other admins
- I was treated to lunch with the team just once
- There are planned “food” activities throughout the week
Do you receive recognition in the form of chocolates?
- Yes: 5.05% of respondents (compared to 23.5% in 2016)
- No: 93.94% of respondents (compared to 76.5% in 2016)
- 1.01% of respondents selected “Other”. One person commented as follows.
- “NO NO NO, thank goodness”
Do you receive recognition in the form of a professional development opportunity?
- Yes: 13.86% of respondents (compared to 11% in 2016)
- No: 83.17% of respondents (compared to 78% in 2016)
- 2.97% of respondents selected “Other”, compared to 11% in 2016. Here are their comments.
- I would if I asked
- My agency is very supportive of professional development
- My professional development opportunities are supported regardless all year long
I asked, “If you do receive a professional development opportunity to mark the occasion, please describe the activity.” Here are the comments that came in, with a note that some readers commented that this wasn’t applicable in their case, or not specific to Admin. Professionals Day or Week. IAAP, the International Association for Administrative Professionals, is clearly a recognised resource for professional development opportunities.
- IAAP-sponsored event in my city
- Paid attendance at IAAP webinars in support of my CAP designation
- Sessions that apply to my IAAP credits or that work with my current IDP.
- We look for what is available in the area
- Prof. Dev. conversational French with educational and motivational presenters
- We had had fun activities and team building events
- I have professional develoment opportunities 365 days per year
- I attend regular training through IAAP and The CA City Clerks Association (City Clerks Association of California)
- Class or program related to my position
- Administrative workshop
- Financial support to (attend) IAAP Summit
Then I asked, “If you receive some other form of recognition/gift for the occasion, please describe”. Here are readers’ comments. The following list does not reflect comments from readers who don’t receive any such recognition or gift, and it’s also worth noting that one person commented there’s no such recognition or gift to mark this particular occasion, but that they are presented at other times in the year.
- Gift card
- Gift card or cash
- Gift card, and usually another small gift
- Gift card to Macy’s or Starbucks
- Visa gift card
- Gift certificate for alcohol
- Boss will usually tweet as to how he couldn’t do his job effectively without me
- Day off
Do you think that such an annual recognition day/week is appropriate?
- Yes: 60.82% of respondents (compared to 67% in 2016)
- No: 32.99% of respondents (compared with 22% in 2016)
- 6.19% of respondents selected “Other”, compared to 11% in 2016. What did these people say?
- I don’t like the attention an not every admin is recognized the same if at all
- If that is generally the only recognition, then yes
- Rather than one day, I want respect and appreciation for contributions
- It is our job. They would argue that there isn’t a national boss day.
- When I don’t get acknowledged that day/week, I feel unimportant to them
- (I) think it belittles the profession, having a special day for it
- I don’t think we need a specific day to acknowledge what we do. I feel having a specific day belittles the profession almost, because it makes people celebrate what we do because of it is that day and then most don’t think about us and what we do for the rest of the year. I get thanks and appreciation throughout the year for what I do, and I believe that this is better than have one day. It’s a nice idea; but surely shouldn’t every day be Admin Professionals Day?
- As long as women are seen as “sub-servant” and receiving lower pay, as a profession, we need the recognition. Leaving it up to individual managers is unequatible. The role continues to change. Maybe someday this won’t be necessary. However, I know that professional development is rewarded to others staff roles. So, APD (Admin. Professionals Day) allows a way to draw the role into a better position overall.
As you may imagine, I received a number responses when I asked, “If you could influence the future of Admin. Professionals Day, what recommendations would you offer?”
- No longer needed if appropriate annual review of job performance is done / I would like to do away with it. Hallmark holiday … / Cancel it completely – just do your job like everyone else in the company
- Should be a standard practice in any organization
- Professional Development / professional development, like teachers’ in-service days
- Offer networking opportunities (IAAP, etc.)
- Daily feedback, recognition / Appreciate your Admin as you go along. One day does not define us or your appreciation.
- Recognition at meetings you attend and regular “thank you” from your exec
- Genuine appreciation is so important; we are the unsung heroes – one day is good
- Global celebration ????
- To be respectful of our title and duties
- Understand that you are an integral part of the team
- Have the day off / Receive a paid day off
- Support professional development & membership in professional associations like IAAP
- We need to be pushing for recognition as a profession all year round
- Perhaps some type of forum or seminar
- Fun team building
- No suggestions at this time
- Different date to accommodate EAS in accounting firms
- Diversify – learn as much as you can about the different positions in your company
- APW (Admin. Professionals Week) brings attention to the position
- More recognition throughout the year, but leave the day on the calendar
- Firstly, the profile of this day needs to be raised – I’ve been an admin professional for 8 years and didn’t know about it until I read this article, and if I don’t know about it, my boss and team certainly don’t! At the same time though, I agree with the points about the style and content of cards to mark the day – it can be easy to trivialise the profession or the importance of showing appreciation. As I said above, an acknowledgement of the day and a simple thank you would make me happy.
On a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high), how does the type of recognition extended to you by your employer/boss on Admin. Professionals Day resonate with you?
- 32.98% selected 0 – there is no such recognition extended to me on Admin. Professionals Day
- 11.7% selected 1 – low; this is not important to me
- 6.38% selected 2 – low, even though this is important to me
- 18.09% selected 3 – fair to middling; I appreciate the intent
- 12.77% selected 4 – it’s relevant, and I appreciate the thought put into it
- 13.83% selected 5 – high; the recognition is meaningful, and I couldn’t be more appreciative
- 4.25% of respondents selected “Other”. Some added comments, as follows.
- I am happy about no recognition because I believe the day is irrelevant
- A zero, since I’m not acknowledged. If I were acknowledged, it would be a five.
- Only because not aware of it
- When It does happen I am very appreciative, because I know they made an effory
Next, I asked, “Briefly describe the most meaningful indicator of appreciation/recognition your employer could extend to you on Admin. Professionals Day.” Here’s what readers are thinking. Once again, I’ve clustered themes and not reported every iteration of the same message
- Respect and appreciate (me) regularly, not just because the calendar says to / Appreciation should be shown year-round, if the assistant does a good job year-round / Specific appreciation of efforts on my assignments means (the) most / A simple “Thank you” or “Well done” in the moment would be more meaningful than (balance of text was cut off, but you can pick up on intent) / Appreciation of your work 365 days a year / Actually saying “thank you”; and, if not regularly, then definitely on this day / Not wait until one day a year to indicate appreciation!
- Fully paid professional development opportunity / Fund professional development / Professional Development such as conference attendance / PD
- Development. Honest, constructive feedback / Regular feedback throughout the year, not just a thank you on one day in the year
- A day dedicated to professional development, preferably off-site / Either a day off or a full day of professional development
- Include me as part of everyday teaming. Extend the same recognition to me. / Treat me as an equal – just one day!
- Share with Execs the impact, importance and support of the admin. role
- Just a simple thank you / A handwritten note would be nice, or at least verbal appreciation / A simple email would suffice or a verbal word of thanks wouldn’t go amiss / A card with a nice heartfelt message / A simple gesture such as a handwritten card
- Verbal appreciation / A word of thanks for all that I do / Knowing what the day was and saying thank you – just something simple
- Besides year-end bonus, just the fact that it is MY DAY to be recognized
- A spot award should be standard practice
- Half day off work, or extended lunch time / A day off to enjoy myself /Paid time off / A free day off or a substantial raise
- Actually recognise it in the UK
- A pay scale synonymous with my skills
- As long as admins are support staff, our profession needs recognition
- The day should be cancelled
Lastly, I asked, “On a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high), how relevant do you think Admin. Professionals Day is in 2017?”
- 1 – irrelevant to the career: 27.16% of respondents
- 2 – 7.41% of respondents
- 3 – 29.63% of respondents
- 4 – 13.58% of respondents
- 5 – highly relevant to the career: 22.22% of respondents