You work hard to plan his appointments, keep his Outlook calendar up to date, plan office holiday parties, coordinate office theme days, and run the company’s Twitter account. You take late lunches to accommodate her schedule and pick up her kids from school if she’s too busy.
Superhero? Maybe. But you prefer the term “administrative assistant.” And April 22 is your day.
Formally known as “Administrative Professionals Day,” this holiday was first celebrated in 1952 as “National Secretaries Week.” But, according to Hallmark, the name changed as the duties associated with the job evolved over the years.
In fact, Staples recently surveyed 1,500 bosses and workers alike to find out the duties of a typical administrative assistant. They found that admins in a small business do whatever needs doing, including:
- Handling budget and payroll — 46 percent
- Doing human resources processing — 43 percent
- Helping out on social media — 23 percent
“Staples’ survey highlights how admins are the backbone of businesses everywhere,” said Mike Edwards, an executive VP at Staples, in a statement.
Of course, you already know how vital your work is. Hopefully your boss does, too, but if not, feel free to print out this guide and leave it in a conspicuous place.
How to make admins feel really appreciated on Administrative Professionals’ Day
Don’t Get: Gift cards
Do Get: Cash
Cold, hard cash doesn’t have to feel cold-hearted. A couple of crisp bills from the bank stacked in an envelope looks great and feels great to get. Buying gift cards too often assumes that administrative assistants shop at Bath and Body Works, and cash is always more welcome than, say, a gas gift card.
Don’t Get: Cut flowers
Do Get: A ficus plant
Flowers are more appropriate for a birthday, anniversary, or wedding announcement. But if you really want to show your appreciation, get an office plant that can dress up a desk all year round. Plants add color to an office, and they make enclosed spaces healthier to breathe in. Consider buying a cactus if you want something low maintenance, but another practical gift might be an aloe plant, since the inside can be used to treat paper cuts or skin ailments like sunburn.
Don’t Get: A card you didn’t even read
Do Get: Job training, at a conference or just a one-day event
Paper goes to waste, but training lasts forever. Admins would rather attend conferences or trade shows in their profession than receive a card, especially one that their boss just grabbed from Walgreens on her way to work. More training, whether it’s on best practices in an industry or attending the Administrative Professionals’ Conference, will make your admin happier and more productive, so it’ll pay off for you. This is the exception to “don’t give work-related gifts” because it involves travel.
Don’t: Take everyone in the office out to lunch.
Do: Bring breakfast to the office instead.
Not only is lunch more expensive, but it’s also more annoying. You’ll have to coordinate everyone’s schedules to make sure no one is left out, then pick a restaurant everyone agrees on, and then there’s dealing with silly office politics about who sits where and who pays for what. Bringing breakfast to the office requires less concentration, and really only involves you getting up earlier to grab some doughnuts, coffee, juice, fruit, and bagels on the way to work. You’ll save more money this way, no one will feel left out, and there are even deals some companies offer specifically for this day.
Don’t: Ignore the holiday, just because you don’t feel like putting in the time or effort.
Do: Give your admin some time off to relax, even if it’s just half a day.
If you’re hesitant to buy something because you don’t know what your admin likes, or you don’t want to spend the time or money on picking out a gift, time is a gift that can’t go wrong.
Above all — but not as a substitute for a gift — remember to say thank you. Verbal praise goes a long way in making an employee happy.