Nagging Questions: What to do about Administrative Professionals Day

It’s Administrative Professionals Day, the annual salute to administrative staff and the contributions they make in the workplace. Here in the United States, we’ve been celebrating it in some fashion since 1952…and we’re still getting it wrong.

Too often we see Administrative Professionals Day minimized with a last-minute gift or forgotten altogether. (You know who you are.) Indeed, entrepreneurs can get so busy growing the business they sometimes forget to stop and appreciate the people running the business.

A little appreciation can go a long way. According to the American Psychological Association, less than half of employees say they are satisfied with the recognition practices of their employer; only 46 percent receive non-monetary rewards (awards, praise or thank-you notes). But the employees who do feel valued are more likely to be motivated to do their very best, more likely to recommend their workplace to others, and less likely to seek employment elsewhere.

Take some time today to say “thank you.” It’s the right thing to do, and it can boost your employees’ morale, loyalty and performance.

A few of our frequently asked questions about Administrative Professionals Day:

I don’t really know any of our administrative assistant’s hobbies or preferences. Is it weird if I give cash?

Not at all – cash is king. But remember the IRS believes you should tax any funds you give an employee.

We’re really tight for money in the second quarter. What can we do that doesn’t cost anything?

Recognition and praise seldom cost a dime – and even the smallest gesture can mean a lot. A letter of appreciation or a card works. A certificate of appreciation for their desk would mean the world and only cost you a little time. We have seen employers score big hits by declaring a “Jeans Week” or raffling prime parking spots.

Last year we raffled off free days of Paid Time Off at our staff appreciation event. Is that OK?

Totally OK, and no doubt greatly appreciated by those who won!

Our administrative assistant really isn’t very good. We’re hesitant to do much for Administrative Professionals’ Day because we don’t want to send mixed messages. Is it bad to give her flowers today and fire her in two months?

If someone isn’t doing well today, why are you waiting two months to have a conversation with them? Administrative Professionals’ Day or no, an employee who isn’t doing well for you deserves to understand that – and understand why. The cost of remediating the performance of an underachieving employee is so much less than replacing one. Maybe the gift you give yourself this year is having the difficult conversation and getting your employee back on the right track?