There are more than 3.3 million clerical and administrative professionals in the United States, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). During the last full week of April, employers have the opportunity to recognize and reward these hard-working employees for their efforts.
Recognition during Administrative Professionals Day (April 27) and Administrative Professionals Week (April 24-30) can be especially appreciated this year, as many administrative and support staff are returning to workplaces after working remotely for two years during the COVID-19 pandemic. Others are now working from home permanently or on a hybrid basis. These changing work patterns demanded resourcefulness and flexibility from assistants and their managers.
While remote and hybrid work for administrative assistants once seemed counterintuitive, during the pandemic organizations have discovered that it can work really well. According to Brie Weiler Reynolds, career development manager and coach at FlexJobs, a Boulder, Colorado-based job and resource site for flexible and remote jobs, “there are certain specific skills that make remote workers, and many of these skills align with skills that office workers also need. This includes being highly detail-oriented and organized, having strong proactive communication skills, being self-disciplined, being excellent at management and time and task planning, adaptability, problem-solving skills, and high emotional intelligence.”
Say thank you’
The International Association of Administrative Professionals (formerly the Association of National Secretaries) established National Secretaries Day and National Secretaries Week in 1952. Since then, using the end of April to thank professionals of administration “has undergone several transformations to reflect the evolution of administrative titles and responsibilities in the modern workforce,” according to a blog post from recruiting firm Robert Half.
“Although its nickname has changed, the goal…remains the same: to celebrate and shine a light on the dedicated and valuable work of administrative professionals,” noted Robert Half. “With remote and hybrid teams becoming part of the new normal, recognizing the efforts of your support staff is more important than ever.”
Robert Half suggested that employers and managers can recognize administrative professionals for their hard work by offering:
A kind word.
Let administrative staff know how their work has helped the department. Celebrate accomplishments and publicly recognize staff by acknowledging their contributions. “A nice touch is a verbal recommendation followed by a thank you card or e-card,” Robert Half pointed out. “Administrative professionals can keep these accolades alive, reminding them how much they are appreciated.”
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has a sample letter of appreciation that members can use or customize to recognize administrative staff.
Rest and relaxation.
Give administrative staff some flexibility to sign off early for Administrative Professionals Day or, if extra time off isn’t possible, consider a gift card so they can treat themselves to something they appreciate.
Organizations can also hold an administrative day luncheon, as does the Florence, SC Chamber of Commerce, which published that their annual event “has been a favorite with businesses and office managers in the region to honor professionals in the administration by providing them with a fun extended lunch and entertaining program in recognition of their contributions throughout the year.”
Another way to recognize and reward these professionals is to provide new opportunities for professional development.
Virtual Staff Events
Recognition ideas for administrative staff who work virtually are suggested by event organization TeamBuilding, which has published 21 Virtual Administrative Professional Day Ideas for 2022. Among the suggested activities:
Host a remote lunch.
“In traditional offices, the team often takes the assistant out for a meal as a thank you,” TeamBuilding noted. “The group can still come together to enjoy each other’s company and express appreciation” by scheduling a time to take a lunch break together and sending a calendar invite with a meeting link. Employers can either reimburse food up to a certain amount or send team credits to delivery services like DoorDash or Uber Eats. The group then meets on virtual meeting software such as Zoom, Webex or Skype and eats together.
Create a tribute video.
Ask team members to record a short 15-30 second video clip praising the work of the administration and support professionals. When all submissions are received, compile the clips into a video montage. Play the tribute in a virtual meeting so the whole team can watch together.
Related SHRM resources:
Administrative Professionals Day (April 27), SHRM Express Requests