Let's face it: You probably wouldn't be nearly as organized, on the ball or, frankly, successful if it weren't for the hardworking administrative professionals on your team. With that in mind, take a moment to think about the last time you recognized them with some staff appreciation.
Administrative Professionals Day (April 24) and Administrative Professionals Week (April 21-27) are great reminders that you may need to single out the people who support you. How do you let your assistants and office managers know how meaningful their work is and how much you value them?
6 ideas to show staff appreciation
Here are some tips that can help you incorporate staff appreciation into your activities so the members of your administrative team receive well-deserved kudos, whether it’s for one day or throughout the year.
1. Plan a celebration — Who doesn’t like a party? In a new OfficeTeam survey, 43 percent of the senior managers responded that they organize a celebration or lunch at work for their administrative staff on Administrative Professionals Day. Want to make it meaningful and easy? Treat your staff to a meal at their favorite restaurant.
2. Show appreciation with gifts — In the survey, 40 percent of senior managers said they thank their administrative staff with flowers or a gift card. Twenty-seven percent said they give a handwritten thank-you note. Other gift ideas include tickets to the movies or a sporting or cultural event, chocolate (cliché, perhaps, but nonetheless appreciated by most), and a business book or title by the administrative staff member’s favorite author.
3. Give out company awards — Thirty-five percent of the managers surveyed said they praise their administrative staff during a meeting or other public forum. One idea is to nominate individuals for internal accolades such as employee of the month. If you’re handing out awards, a crystal plaque that the winners can display on their desks, a special seal added to their business cards or an email to the entire team praising their accomplishments will make the award feel special.
4. Encourage professional development — Administrative professionals value training opportunities. So, when it comes to staff appreciation, give them what they want. Send a team member who has gone above and beyond to a conference or class, or pay for membership in an industry association. If the whole team has been working hard, arrange for a guest speaker to conduct a training seminar customized to the group’s needs and interests. This has the dual benefit of rewarding administrative staff for a job well done and helping them strengthen abilities that can benefit the organization.
5. Offer employee perks — Everyone appreciates tangible awards. But that doesn’t mean your staff appreciation efforts have to break the bank to make an impact. Rewards such as a reserved parking spot near the front entrance go a long way and cost relatively little. Other ideas? The option to leave early one day or extra vacation time would be appreciated.
6. Provide monetary rewards — Few things have a bigger impact than extra pay. Hand out spot bonuses, raises and other financial rewards if budgets allow. You may decide to save this type of staff appreciation for only the most exceptional of achievements. Establish criteria that separate outstanding effort from other activities.
Do’s and don’ts when expressing gratitude
Before you start heaping on the praise on Administrative Professionals Day, consider these suggestions, especially if you struggle with finding the time or the words to express your appreciation:
- DO make sure you’re sincere and you relate your praise to a specific achievement or task.
- DO tailor your praise to the employee. Some people like public shows of appreciation, while others like to be recognized privately. You may be able to judge from their personality how a particular person likes to be recognized.
- DO make your praise timely. If you appreciate something your administrative professional did, offer a simple thank you in the moment. You don't have to save praise for review time or a meeting.
- DO give a meaningful gift for going above and beyond. An unthoughtful gift could be worse than giving no gift at all.
- DO be direct. If you take the “show, don't tell approach,” the person might not really get the message.
- DON'T overdo your praise. It might come across as forced or even insincere.
- DON'T be too general. People appreciate hearing not only that they did a good job, but also what you liked about how they did it or what impact it had.
Words of praise for your administrative staff
While your accolades should be genuine and tailored to your staff, here are some ideas about what to say when thanking your assistant or other support personnel:
- "Thanks for keeping my files so organized. Because of you, I wasn’t fumbling to find what I needed for that last-minute meeting this time!"
- "Thanks for keeping all my travel straight so I end up in the right city at the right time."
- "Thanks for reminding me it was Kathy's birthday so I didn't forget and look like a jerk!"
- •Thanks for having everything set up for the big meeting. Your preparation made everything run smoothly — and helped us wrap up in time."
- "That presentation you created/gave really rocked. Thanks for the extra time and effort you put into it. You wowed both me and a hard-to-please client."
- "I notice how friendly and helpful you are when communicating one-on-one. Thanks for helping clients feel like they really matter to us and making people in other work groups see our department as approachable."
When it’s done right, employee appreciation can provide greater motivation, increase employee engagement, reinforce positive behavior and lower stress levels by allowing your support staff to focus on positive actions and behaviors. All that translates to better customer service and increased efficiency on the job.
As the day-to-day roles of administrative professionals become more demanding and complex, they need to see your gratitude even more. You might be surprised how much a simple thank-you can help a coworker realize you care about them and the work they do.
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