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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. 

In Robert Half’s survey of hiring managers, 79 per cent said the responsibilities for administrative and customer support professionals have increased with the shift to more remote business models.* With this in mind, take a moment to think about the last time you recognized them with some employee appreciation.

Administrative Professionals Day, April 27, and the entire Administrative Professionals Week are great opportunities to single out the people who support you. But with hybrid teams here to stay, how do you let your assistants and office managers who may be working remotely know how meaningful their work is and how much you value them? 

4 ideas to show appreciation 

Here are tips that can help you incorporate employee appreciation into your activities. 

1. Give out company awards — Praise administrative team members for their achievements during a meeting or other public forum. With many teams working remotely, consider nominating individuals for internal accolades such as employee of the month. Email a special certificate that winners can print out and display. Sending an email praising their accomplishments and cc’ing members of the entire team or senior managers will make the award feel special. 

2. Show appreciation with gifts — Many managers thank their administrative professionals with flowers, a gift card or a handwritten thank-you note. Other ideas to show appreciation include a delivery of sweet treats, a gift basket or a business book or title by the administrative team member’s favourite author. 

3. Encourage professional development — Administrative professionals value training opportunities. So, when it comes to appreciation, give them what they want. Arrange for a complimentary membership in an industry association. Schedule an online training session or webinar customized to the group’s needs and interests. This has the dual benefit of rewarding administrative employees for a job well done and helping them strengthen abilities that can benefit the organization

4. 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 providing the option to log off from work early one day or extra vacation time would be appreciated. 

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 relate your praise to a specific achievement or task. 

  • DO tailor your praise to the employee. While some people like public shows of appreciation, 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. In addition to showing how much you appreciate administrative staff, it’s important to also tell them so they 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 team 

While your accolades should be genuine and tailored, here are general ideas about what to say when thanking your assistant or other support personnel: 

  • "Thanks for keeping our department’s records so organized. Because of you, I wasn’t fumbling to find what I needed for that last-minute meeting." 

  • "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 view our department as approachable." 

When it’s done right, employee appreciation provides greater motivation, increases employee engagement, reinforces positive behavior, and lowers 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 have become more demanding and complex, your team needs to see your gratitude even more. You might be surprised how much a thank-you can help a coworker realize you care about them and the work they do. 

Need other ideas to offer recognition and stay connected with your virtual team? Get key employee recognition tips to managing an anywhere workforce

*Source: Robert Half survey of more than 150 hiring managers who work in the administrative and customer support fields in Canada.