Administrative Professionals Week was conceived in 1952 by Mary Barrett, then-president of the National Secretaries Association, and C. King Woodbridge, then-president of the Dictaphone Corporation. Both were serving on a council addressing the national shortage of skilled workers and decided a weeklong event intended to recognize “the secretary, upon whose skills, loyalty, and efficiency the functions of business and government offices depend” was just the ticket to encourage skilled administrators to join the workforce.
3 Million Strong
Over 60 years later, what started as “National Secretaries Week” was changed to “Administrative Professionals Week” in 2000, but it is still one of the biggest secular business holidays in the country, celebrating the nearly 3 million administrative professionals in the U.S. workforce annually on the last full week of April. Supported by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), Administrative Professionals Week also includes Administrative Professionals Day, occurring on the Wednesday of the week-long event.
It’s not just a feel-good Hallmark card day, either. According to IAAP, administrative professionals still struggle to gain recognition for their impactful work. In a joint survey with Robert Half International, IAAP found that over 75 percent of them are likely to leave their jobs if they do not feel appreciated by their managers. Furthermore, “Support staff place a high priority on a company’s employee recognition efforts. In fact, receiving the proper recognition factors heavily into their decision to join — and remain — with a company. More than 70 percent of respondents said an organization’s recognition programs would factor into their decision to accept employment with that firm.”
Virtually the same proportion of respondents (67 percent) said receiving recognition “greatly” or “somewhat” improves job performance.
The study also revealed what types of recognition administrative staff prefer, as opposed to what managers perceive. They found that while managers place more importance on things like cash rewards and promotions, administrative professionals’ most valuable forms of recognition were relating their achievements to senior management and in-person “thank you”s. They suggest employers periodically step back and evaluate their recognition efforts for this reason, and what a better time to do it.
Recognize, Recognize, Recognize
So make sure your administrative staff is recognized for their work not just during their special week but year-round as well. If you need help planning or would like some research to start a conversation, we highly recommend IAAP’s Recognize Results survey, which contains a wealth of industry data, common misconceptions, cost-effective recognition ideas, and key strategies to ensure your support staff gets the support they need.
A version of this post was originally published on the former Michael C. Fina Recognition blog