With thanks to all who participated, here are your responses to my question … How satisfied are you with your career at this point in time? Let’s dive straight in to the results.
More than one of every five respondents was able to give the highest possible (five out of five) rating on satisfaction with compensation packages. This percentage has climbed from 16% in both 2016 and 2017 to 21% of you in 2018.
This year, a full 60% of you were able to assign either a four or five rating. That corresponds with substantial decreases in the percentage of respondents who selected the two lowest possible satisfaction ratings – 13% of you in 2018, compared to 35% in 2017 and 32.5% in 2016.
While this is a positive trend, it doesn’t diminish compensation challenges faced by those among the 13% of 2018’s respondents who assigned low satisfaction ratings. Remember that my Weekend Polls are global in nature and reflect assistants’ experiences in multiple countries. I’ve heard anecdotes from more than one assistant, for example, that the compensation packages of 2018 in their city or country are diminished from what could have been negotiated a few years ago.
Balancing Personal and Business Lives
Here, almost one of every five (19%) respondents was able to give the highest possible (five out of five) rating on satisfaction that they have this in good shape. That’s consistent with the 2017 results, and remains above the 16% who chose this rating in 2016.
In fact, a full 58% of you were able to assign one of the two top satisfaction ratings on this front. That compares to 50% of respondents in 2017 and 45% in 2016. The percentage of assistants who are dissatisfied with their life-work balance appears to be on the decline. In 2018, 11% of respondents chose one of the two lowest possible ratings, compared to 28% of you in 2017 and 27% in 2016.
Playing devil’s advocate here, does this imply that we’re getting better at establishing and maintaining boundaries to protect our personal time … or that we’ve accepted a blurring of the two worlds as the norm? What do you think?
Principals Will Want to Take Note
I asked readers to assess how satisfied you are with your working relationships with your principals (your boss or bosses). 2018 marks the first year I’ve incorporated this question in this particular Weekend Poll.
On the good news front, more than a third of respondents (37.5%) chose the highest possible rating, a five out of five to indicate that they couldn’t be happier. More than half of you, 54.5%, chose one of the two highest possible ratings.
On the other hand, almost one in five of you (18.5%) assigned one of the two lowest possible ratings – either a one (“very dissatisfied”) or a two.
Career mobility can imply both occupational and geographic mobility – anything from movement across positions, companies and sectors to picking up and physically moving from one city to another, or even to a different county, province, state, country or continent. I know of readers who, over recent years, have departed the countries in which they were born and moved to new roles in Bulgaria, New Zealand and the UK.
In 2018, 35% of respondents were able to assign one of the two highest satisfaction ratings when it comes to career mobility. That compares to 30% of you in 2017 and 42% in 2016. Exactly one third of you landed squarely in the middle of such satisfaction ratings this year, while 32% of respondents gave one of the two lowest possible satisfaction ratings for career mobility. That’s a slight improvement from 36% in 2017 and 41% in 2016.
47% of this year’s respondents were able to assign one of the two highest possible ratings when it comes to workplace culture. That shows a significant rebound from 39% of you in 2017, and a modest improvement from 43.33% in 2016.
A third of you, however, assigned one of two lowest possible ratings on satisfaction with workplace culture. Still, this represents an improvement from the 42% of respondents who gave such low ratings in 2017, and 41% in 2016.
But Do You Feel Valued?
We’re also trending upward in terms of assistants feeling valued in their workplaces. In 2018, 46% of respondents were able to assign one of the two highest satisfaction ratings. That compares to 31% in 2017, which dipped significantly from 49% of respondents in 2016.
More than one in four respondents, though (27%), assigned one of the two lowest possible ratings on this front. How’s that for employee engagement? This represents a modest improvement from the 32% of respondents who assigned such ratings in 2017, but doesn’t compare favourably to the more modest percentage (24%) of you who reported such low satisfaction levels in 2016.
Highlights and Sore Spots
I was impressed to seen that 60% of respondents assigned one of the two highest possible ratings to satisaction with their compensation. Satisfaction ratings were almost as strong for life-work balance, with 58% of respondents selecting one of those two highest ratings.
Working relationships with your principals also fared well on the satisfaction front, as 54.5% of respondents were able to assign one of the two highest possible ratings. If you’re among that 54.5%, you’re fortunate.
I was surprised to find that career mobility topped all aspects of this Weekend Poll in which the highest percentage of readers expressed one of the two lowest satisfaction ratings. 32% of respondents assigned either a one (very dissatisfied) or two rating to this aspect of career satisfaction.
A sense of being valued was the second such sore spot for 27% of respondents, followed by workplace culture – for which 23% of respondents assigned one of the two lowest possible satisfaction ratings.
40% of Dissatisfied Respondents Actively Looking for New Opportunities
Principals/bosses may benefit by being mindful on this front, as well; some may soon be incurring costs to replace assistants. I asked assistants who gave satisfaction ratings of two or lower on more than one of these questions just what they’re going to do about the situation. I presented five options, asking these readers to select the response that best reflected their intentions.
Of those who reported low career satisfaction rates, 40% are actively searching for new opportunities, up from 33.3% in 2017. Another 28% reported that they’re keeping a casual eye out for new opportunities.
Assistants should not be dependent on their employers for career satisfaction. This year, 12% of those reporting low satisfaction rates are taking the initiative to work on certification/education to try to improve their career prospects and/or satisfaction. Another 20% reported that they’ll stay put – with 3% reporting that they won’t make any changes, and another 17% indicating that they’ll consider how they can improve matters.
It’s Your Career, and You Need to Take Control
That’s the message from more than one of the many respondents who offered insights on how they’ve achieved satisfaction. I agree with readers who offered comments on achieving a good fit. As one reader wrote, “Choosing your boss is one of your most important decisions.”
No work place is static, however, and assistants need to be prepared for change. Your counterparts from around the globe have been generous with their insights and, if you’d like to learn more about what works for your peers, read their comments at the conclusion of the data below.
Note: Information below reflects the percentage of respondents who selected specific responses from multiple choice options. In instances where more than one person offers similar responses to an open ended question, I typically cluster or paraphrase such responses rather than duplicating all of them.
Also note that, for almost every question in prior years, a percentage of readers selected “Other” and offered comments. As of 2018, I’ve discontinued providing “Other” as a response option.
1. On a scale of 1 (very dissatisfied) to 5 (couldn’t be happier), how satisfied are you with your compensation package?
- 5 out of 5 (couldn’t be happier): 21% of respondents, compared to 16% in both 2017 and 2016
- 4 out of 5: 39% of respondents, compared to 24% in 2017 and 29% in 2016
- 3 out of 5: 27% of respondents, compared to 24% in 2017 and 22.5% in 2016
- 2 out of 5: 9% of respondents, compared to 24% in 2017 and 22.5% in 2016
- 1 out of 5 (very dissatisfied): 4% of respondents, compared to 11% in 2017 and 10% in 2016
2. On a scale of 1 (very dissatisfied) to 5 (couldn’t be happier), how satisfied are you with your life-work balance?
- 5 out of 5 (couldn’t be happier): 19% of respondents, compared to 19% in 2017 and 14% in 2016
- 4 out of 5: 39% of respondents, compared to 31% in both 2017 and 2016
- 3 out of 5: 31% of respondents, compared to 19% in 2017 and 28% in 2016
- 2 out of 5: 11% of respondents, compared to 16% in 2017 and 10% in 2016
- 1 out of 5 (very dissatisfied): 0% of respondents, compared to 12% in 2017 and 17% in 2016
3. On a scale of 1 (very dissatisfied) to 5 (couldn’t be happier), how satisfied are you with your working relationship with your principal (boss/bosses)? Note: This is the first year in which I’ve included this particular question on this Poll.
- 5 out of 5 (couldn’t be happier): 37.5% of respondents
- 4 out of 5: 17% of respondents
- 3 out of 5: 27% of respondents
- 2 out of 5: 6% of respondents
- 1 out of 5 (very dissatisfied): 12.5% of respondents
4. On a scale of 1 (very dissatisfied) to 5 (couldn’t be happier), how satisfied are you with your career mobility?
- 5 out of 5 (couldn’t be happier): 11% of respondents: compared to 12% in 2017 and 7% in 2016
- 4 out of 5: 24% of respondents, compared to 18% in 2017 and 35% in 2016
- 3 out of 5: 33% of respondents, compared to 30% in 2017 and 14% in 2016
- 2 out of 5: 19% of respondents, compared to 24% in both 2017 and 2016
- 1 out of 5 (very dissatisfied): 13% of respondents, compared to 12% in 2017 and 17% in 2016
5. On a scale of 1 (very dissatisfied) to 5 (couldn’t be happier), how satisfied are you with your workplace culture?
- 5 out of 5 (couldn’t be happier): 17% of respondents, compared to 9% in 2017 and 20% in 2016
- 4 out of 5: 30% of respondents, compared to 18% in 2017 and 23.33% in 2016
- 3 out of 5: 30% of respondents, compared to 26% in 2017 and 23.33% in 2016
- 2 out of 5: 12% of respondents, compared to 18% in 2017 and 17% in 2016
- 1 out of 5 (very dissatisfied): 11% of respondents, compared to 24% in 2017 and 23.33% in 2016
6. On a scale of 1 (very dissatisfied) to 5 (couldn’t be happier), how satisfied are you that your contributions are valued?
- 5 out of 5 (couldn’t be happier): 22% of respondents, compared to 6% in 2017 and 14% in 2016
- 4 out of 5: 24% of respondents, compared to 25% in 2017 and 35% in 2016
- 3 out of 5: 27% of respondents, compared to 34% in 2017 and 24% in 2016
- 2 out of 5: 16% of respondents, compared to 16% in 2017 and 10% in 2016
- 1 out of 5 (very dissatisfied): 11% of respondents, compared to 16% in 2017 and 14% in 2016
7. If you gave ratings of 2 or lower for more than one of the questions above, which of the following best describes what you’re doing about the situation? Note that 2018 marks only the second year in which I posed this particular question.
- I am actively searching for a new opportunity: 40% of respondents, compared to 33.3% in 2017
- I am keeping a casual eye out for other opportunities: 28% of respondents, compared to 33.3% in 2017
- I will stay put but consider how I might improve matters: 17% of respondents (Note that 2018 is the first year I presented this response as an option)
- I am working on certification/education to try to improve my career prospects/satisfaction: 12% of respondents, compared to 19.05% in 2017
- I will stay put without making any changes: 3% of respondents (Note that 2018 is the first year I presented this response as an option)
- Note that, in 2017, 14.29% of respondents selected “I will stay put” as an option. In 2018, I replaced that response option with two new ones shown above. Combined, a total of 20% of 2018 respondents indicated they will stay put – with 3% planning to do so without making any changes, and 17% staying put but considering how they might improve matters
8. Lastly, I asked readers who were able to give positive ratings for most of the questions to give their recommendations on how to achieve career satisfaction. Here’s what you said.
- Be mindful that you are the one in control of your career. Make decisions and take actions accordingly.
- You need to take control of your own career and own it. Set goals and know what you want to achieve, and have a conversation with your executive so they are aware.
- Open, honest communication between yourself and management, consistency in reflection of good work ethics and values by both parties, work/life balance flexibility, recognition and respect both ways are key factors.
- Choosing your boss is one of your most important decisions.
- Personality fit and a bit of luck have helped tremendously.
- Align your professional goals with company goals.
- Trust yourself.
- Always keep learning. I’ve been with my employer for over 26 years and have been able to move around departments but my learning and development stagnated. I have now started a managing people apprenticeship, have a small PA team to lead/mentor and have joined a few PA networks. I thought I knew everything about the PA role but there’s always more to learn and people to inspire you to make you the best you can be!
- I have set up as a Virtual Assistant after over 20 year working in the City and it was the best thing I have ever done, though also the scariest!
- Keep open. Look for opportunities to expand your role. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.
- Always be cautious with elements of working life.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Be genuine and honest at all times.
- Always give your best.
- I’ve recently moved jobs and so far, so good!
- Just be you and love what you are doing. Be interested in themes beyond your daily tasks, be satisfied with what you get and have, be open to networking and networking events and much more.
- Engage in self-assessments. Understand your strengths and increase your set of skills.
- Have a clear career strategy and seek collaborations.
- I think it is important to first value yourself. I believe that I hold the responsibility for own my own satisfaction and happiness. Then it helps that I have had the opportunity to select positions in which the work culture values their employees. This is something I always explore during interviews. It is also important to be part of the core of the workplace culture – volunteer for focus groups and programs that look at culture and HR issues. Behave in a way that values and respects yourself and others. Also, there is wonderful book called How To Have A Great Day At Work that I have read multiple times on how you can choose to have a good day. It is based on neuroscience and behavior patterns. It helps to have a plan. /
- Partner with your executives.
- Share knowledge and embrace long-life learning.
- Being proactive is a prerequisite for the role. Plan things ahead or forward thinking will make the life easier rather than rushing at last minute.
- I am currently working in a department where I am passionately interested in the work of my department. I have a great boss. The only downside is the civil service pay structure. That is the one thing that will prevent me staying in this department and to keep working with my director. If the pay was more aligned to the private sector I would never leave this role.
- Keep open. Look for opportunities to expand your role. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.
- Be flexible and open-minded, but persevere – things do tend to change! Meanwhile, keep your credentials up to date and your skills relevant.
- Learn your industry. Continue learning, sharpening your skills. Accept challenges.
- My satisfaction comes from working with leaders who recognize the benefit I bring, them trusting in me. Having those relationships brings a huge amount of career satisfaction.
- Personal branding and knowing where you are (add?) value is the key.
- Communication. Know what training you need to upskill and ask for it.
- Ask for a mentor and /or coach.
- I’ve found that it helps to tap in to my professional networks for workshops, conferences and even informal networking that helps to sharpen my focus on training … and just what I want of the career.
- I am lucky to have a great manager. Our company is going through troubled times and in my role it is all too evident where the cracks are appearing. It is worrying, but I am focusing on making the best path and opportunities for myself with my manager’s support.
- Be reliable. Learn the business. Do the job. Network internally. Actively participate in an external professional network/organization. Maintain cutting-edge skills. Be flexible.
- Keep open communication with your boss about what you are wanting out of your career. I’ve found that if I am open and honest about where I want my career to go, my boss is more likely to buy in and help me get there.