Administrative Professionals Day and its Relevance in 2017

by Shelagh Donnelly

Donnelly, ShelaghI write for a great international audience of high performing administrative professionals, and stay in touch with what readers are thinking through regular Weekend Polls. Each Thursday, you’ll see me posing anywhere from a couple to a dozen or so questions to admins around the globe. The topic will typically focus on career-related themes, and I publish results the following Tuesday.

Recent Weekend Polls have given readers opportunity to share their insights on professional development, performance management, job satisfaction, workplace wellness, use of business cards, and succession planning for the admin role… and we also look at travel planning, on both a personal and business level.

Last week, I opened up what proved to be a really interesting discussion when I posed a series of questions relating to Administrative Professionals Day. The results, and the feedback I received on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more made me reflect on how beneficial it is to be able to compare, contrast, and learn from others’ experiences.

Let’s take that particular Weekend Poll as an example. We learned that not all countries (let alone all offices!) mark what we know as Administrative Professionals Day. On the other hand, our counterparts in a number of other countries 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.

You can have a look at the questions I posed here  and you’ll find the full results, including data, here. In the meantime, here’s a look at what readers said. How do these experiences and preferences compare with yours?

Celebrating Administrative Professionals Day (or not), and how

There was an almost even split of responses among readers. 45 percent of respondents said that recognition is extended as part of Administrative Professionals Day, while 46 percent said it isn’t. How is the recognition of the occasion extended? Well, for 49 percent of respondents, it’s offered verbally. 26 percent of respondents said you receive greeting cards (down from 41 percent last year), and roughly one in four said that you receive flowers.

Approximately a third 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 percent of respondents think they’re likely to receive some for Administrative Professionals Day.

What about a professional development (PD) opportunity in honour of the occasion?

Almost 14 percent of respondents said they receive recognition in the form of professional development. That’s up slightly from 11 percent 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 to which people turn.

What would represent meaningful recognition to admin. professionals whose offices do mark the occasion?

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.”

I found the frequency with which a desire for acknowledgement and feedback was mentioned to be very telling; it suggests that many admin. professionals feel unappreciated or undervalued.

Insights from my counterparts: Darragh, Peacock & Perrine

I’ve been pretty busy responding to messages and feedback to the poll on my Facebook and LinkedIn groups. In addition to people completing the Poll itself, I heard from a few readers—including three of my counterparts whose names many of you will recognise.

One of the three has seen a shifting of her views in recent years. American Julie Perrine observed, “I recognize that this is sometimes the ONLY time of the year that some assistants get any appreciation or recognition.” Victoria Darragh, writing from London, England, wrote, “…we have so many PA [Personal Assistant] 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.” Down under, in Australia, Russell Peacock commented, “A recognition day is no substitute for genuine development opportunities.”

Have a look at the Poll results to see the full extent of Victoria Darragh, Russell Peacock and Julie Perrine had to say.

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 across this profession?

The author:
Living in beautiful Vancouver, Canada, Shelagh is the founder and publisher of Exceptional EA, She writes from a position of extensive experience and engages with a high performing, international audience of administrative professionals. A compelling speaker and trainer, Shelagh presents at local, national and international conferences.
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