we need to end Secretaries Day

This is a reprint of a column I wrote several years ago for U.S. News & World Report. Sadly my call was not heeded then, so here it is again.

Today is Secretaries Day, and we should end it this year.

The “holiday” – more recently updated to be called Administrative Professionals Day – was created by the International Association of Administrative Professionals back in 1952, when the organization was known as the National Secretaries Association. If you haven’t encountered this celebration in your office, it’s intended to recognize the work of administrative assistants, receptionists and other administrative support workers – with cards, flowers, and lunches.

Administrative workers certainly do deserve recognition and appreciation. They often have tough jobs, they serve a key role in keeping organizations functioning efficiently and, in many cases, they function as the right hands of busy executives who wouldn’t be able to perform their jobs without them. And support work is hard. Anyone who has ever worked in an admin role can tell you it’s a lot harder than it looks from the outside. Good admins make it look easy – being calm and unflappable is part of doing the job well – but it can be stressful, challenging work.

So given all that, what’s the problem with Secretaries Day? Why wouldn’t we want a holiday to mark these contributions?

The problem with Secretaries Day is that it’s patronizing and demeaning. Having a special holiday for administrative workers separates admins from the rest of the office, marking their work as somehow different from other professional occupations. After all, if we value our admins as we would any other employees, why do we require a special holiday to mark their contributions? We don’t have Accountants Day, Copy Editors Day or Actuaries Day. What is it about administrative workers that requires setting aside a calendar day to recognize their work?

The argument in favor of Secretaries Day appears to be that the role is one that often isn’t fully appreciated by the people who admins support. But the day itself actually adds to that problem, by further ghettoizing the job and pigeonholing admins into a different category from everyone else. It says: “You are different from the rest of us, and we’re going to patronize you with a card rather than giving you year-round professional respect.” The day itself actually adds to the problem that it was created to address.

Complicating matters further, there’s even confusion in some offices over who is supposed to be recognized for the holiday and who isn’t. There are sometimes hurt feelings when someone isn’t recognized but wanted to be, and even more hurt feelings when someone gets a card and didn’t realize he or she was seen as support staff. Plus, some admins are paid more than the people plying them with cards and lunches on Secretaries Day, so they understandably find it awkward to be treated by people who make half as much as they do.

On to top of that, plenty of managers spot how the holiday is patronizing the very people who they want to value, but worry they’ll offend their assistants or make them feel unvalued if they don’t recognize the day in some way. It’s on the calendar, after all, and people know about it! And so the cycle is perpetuated, even though people on both sides of the exchange are often feeling awkward and uncomfortable about it.

And making matters still worse, it sure does feel like there’s a gender component to all of this. The majority of admins are still women, and there’s something particularly condescending about a holiday that says “rather than paying you well and showing you year-round respect, we’re going to give you flowers and trinkets.” And it’s surely no coincidence that many of the traditional gifts for the day – flowers and perfume – are ones that tend to be gendered in our culture. When is the last time someone gave the mailroom guy a rose as thanks for a job well done?

The bottom line is this: Admins deserve respect and appreciation year-round. They deserve professional development opportunities, useful feedback and to be taken seriously as people doing important professional work. And they deserve to be compensated and rewarded in accordance with the work they perform.

Flowers and a card once a year are no substitute for any of that, and continuing the practice threatens to keep them from being seen as professionals like every other professional in the workplace.

{ 475 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Murphy

    Ha! I was thinking about this earlier today.

    – We got a unit-wide email from the head of our unit this morning about Administrative Professional’s Day…except it was sent by an administrative person on his behalf.
    – It commended our administrative staff without whom we could not blah blah blah (true!), but mentioned no one by name.
    – It mentioned some treats and the locations of said treats…and at least in my office, it was the admin staff putting out those treats, and I bet were also the ones who had to go out and buy them.
    – The head of our unit did give our main admin/office manager flowers though.

    Reply
    1. Admin2

      I’m against pandering and obvious last minute panic efforts.

      But I am for thoughtful genuine expressions of gratitude. As an admin, I do think we have a special niche of work that doesn’t quite fit anywhere else and a heck of a lot of stuff gets piled in between. So for that, I support the flowers and cards and gifts, as long as they have genuine meaning and thought, as any real gift should!

      Reply
      1. Super B

        I’m a career admin and I disagree. There are 8 admin assistants and 2 exec assistants in my company and we had a nice lunch catered, and received gift cards and flowers. One of the execs gave me and the other EA a bottle of wine as well. For the record, some of us make way more $ than other ‘non-admins’ so I don’t see this as a way for them to compensate us for being under-payed or what-not. I just find it… nice and sweet. BUT – I’m in peace with being an admin, love my job, and I think that’s part of it. If you are in it with hopes to climb the ladder, or embarrassed bout being a ‘secretary’, I can see how being recognized on ‘admin’s day’ would bother you. Your problem, not mine – don’t take this day away from me.

        Reply
    2. Nana

      I was a top-level Admin Ass’t…and spoke privately to my bosses at several places, referring to it as “Be Nice to N-word Day” I don’t want flowers; I want a living wage…acknowledgement of my contributions…support for my needs/wishes, etc. And, at one job, where the Office Manager disliked me and insisted on lumping me with the clerks, part-time low-level helpers, etc…I just took the day off.

      Reply
            1. MsChanandlerBong

              Ghettoize is a perfectly appropriate term; it means to segregate or treat a particular group of people as if their attributes are not important to others.

              Reply
                1. dbAdmin

                  Seconded. That’s incredibly patronizing and comparing a national holiday meant to encourage good will towards a group of workers to what the Jewish people encountered in WW2 is pretty disgustingly tonedeaf.

  2. Secretary

    Hi Alison,
    I think you raise a really excellent point here, can you elaborate (maybe in the podcast!) on this and how people in admin roles and their managers can start making this change?

    I work as a Secretary, thankfully my boss believes this too and so I get all the respect that the men around here do. That being said, people say “Happy Admin Professionals Day!” to me all the time, and it feels awkward to be like, “Ok thanks but let me give you a lesson on Feminism 101 and how you’re not actually being respectful.”

    What language can bosses use in an office where this has been and thing to put a stop to it?

    Reply
    1. Penny Lane

      I totally agree that Secretaries’ Day doesn’t serve the purpose anymore but I’m curious as why “Happy Admin Professionals Day” isn’t respectful or not sufficiently feminist. Aren’t the people who say that trying to be more respectful of an administrative professional than calling them secretary would be? Please educate me!

      Reply
      1. rldk

        That’s what Alison’s whole post addresses – it creates a division between “regular” staff and admins by setting them apart with gifts that are traditionally very similar to the gendered gifts given for valentine’s, mother’s day, etc. It’s not about the name of secretary vs admin, but about the false dichotomy of regular versus support staff. Either they’re respected just like other classes of employees and don’t need a specific day, or they’re not and one day of trinkets won’t be enough to make up for that lack.

        Reply
        1. Doe-Eyed

          That’s kind of on the individual office though? All of our admins got a lunch today. Which is exactly what the nurses get for nurses day, the doctors get for doctors day, etc?

          Reply
          1. Annie Moose

            Most offices don’t have special days to celebrate other roles in the office, though. E.g. I’ve never heard of Business Analysts’ Day or Web Developers’ Day being widely celebrated.

            If there’s an office where every role gets a special day/lunch set aside, that’s a different story.

            Reply
            1. Doe-Eyed

              Our office lumps everyone in with what most broadly fits their roles. Our web developers get a lunch on internet day, I think. Project managers get something on admin day as their work is largely administrative. Research personnel get clinical trials day, etc. But it’s a decision our office has made to be inclusive and to try and make sure everyone is thanked specifically for their roles.

              Reply
              1. Luna

                But the vast majority of places do not do this. I think some people are getting into ‘sandwich’ territory here…

                Reply
                1. Doe-Eyed

                  Yes, I understand this, which is why I prefaced a comment a couple of up with “that’s up to the individual office”. I’m not attempting to get into “sandwich” territory, I’m expressing the opinion that there are a number of ways to celebrate the holiday without it becoming a “thing” vs. just shutting it down completely. And I’m further backing up that opinion by giving an example of a system that is at least somewhat better. And is accomplished in the framework of a government agency, possibly the most non-agile, phlegmatic environment possible to try and do such a thing.

                  If this was a poster who was discussing this and their personal experience with it that’s a bit different, HOWEVER, the entire post is a thematic discussion about admin professionals day and how it is or isn’t appropriate to be celebrated. It’s a little stifling to suggest that any discussion with a contrary example must be a “sandwich” post.

              2. SarahTheEntwife

                Your office sounds pretty awesome, at least in that respect! :-) It isn’t weirdly isolating administrative professionals if you do the same day-and-a-cake thing with all your professional groups.

                Reply
              3. Rachael

                I’m not sure how many project managers agree with me, but I would not be happy if someone recognized me on that day simply because I regularly have to remind people that I am a project manager and not an administrative assistant. A lot of times people don’t understand the work of a project manager and try to push off other tasks that they just don’t want to do. I do not excel at the type of work that administrative assistants do and that is why I did not go into that field. Yes, there is administration in project management, but it is a different kind and I tolerate it in order to be able to perform the work that I love to do.

                Reply
            2. Doe-Eyed

              Whoops, I misspoke, our web devs and programmers also get their lunch on National IT professionals day.

              Reply
            3. Wintermute

              I have, all the time, we celebrate engineer’s week, Customer Service day, etc. here. It’s not just admins.

              Also, I think it’s helpful to understand the context of secretaries’ day, in that it was intended to highlight the value of “invisible work”, because presumably people that get big sales accounts or finish big projects or hit high production quotas get kudos for their accomplishments. But “day-in-day-out” work isn’t like that and doesn’t lend itself to congratulations and appreciation at a specific time and place the same way completing a big delivery or closing an account does.

              Reply
              1. notanon

                As an EA, rather than a box of chocolates in April I would much prefer a portion of that 5-figure year-end bonus for the great sales performance and major project completions in which my support was an integral part.

                Reply
                1. CmdrShepard4ever

                  I agree, I have a friend who works as a salesperson and each sales team has an admin support person who work with them, each admin person for each team gets a small commission based on what the whole team does in sales. I’m pretty sure it is still significantly less then what the sales people get for commission but I think it is a good way to recognize that sales people couldn’t be as productive and make more sales without of the help of the admin support people.

            4. Lolli

              There is a SysAdmin day. And in case any of you are interested. I like chocolate ;-)
              I am just glad my office doesn’t recognize boss’ day. That is worse than Administrative Professional’s day.

              Reply
          2. Nobody special

            I worked in hospitals for many years and while there was nurses month, PT month, OT month…. With a day for special celebration… There was no Doctors day. Points to class consciosness and in years past, gendered assumptions. There are far more women Doctors today but understandably they haven’t promoted a day to celebrate themselves. In one office conversation an admin worker said to (female) doctor on this day, why is there no Doctors day?and she replied in a rueful tone of voice, “every day is doctors day”. So true.

            Reply
            1. Doe-Eyed

              Ditto the person above – we do Doctor’s Day. We just put out a lunch as a nice way to say thank you for being part of the team. Every day being “doctor’s day” says more about the culture of the workplace. Our docs are fantastic to work with (they are all very quick to correct you that you don’t work ‘for’ them, you work with them) and they make working here great.

              Reply
              1. Me

                Ours are the opposite – very quick to suggest backhandedly that you work *for* them. Makes me hate Doctor’s Day so much.

                Reply
            2. AnonNurse

              In the U.S. National Doctor’s Day is March 30th and it’s definitely recognized in many places including the hospital I work for. I’ve never heard of nurse’s month or PT month but there are weeks to celebrate the contributions throughout healthcare. Definitely something I support.

              Reply
            3. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian

              Our lab gives flowers and a treat to all our doctors of all genders on Doctor’s Day. The treat varies between booze and some kind of candy/sweet. Everybody likes receiving both, and they pout if we’re late.

              My boss use to give all of us on the support team (vs the technical team) a few flowers and a thank you note and Admin Appreciation Day, but we haven’t been recognized like that in a few years now. It definitely rankles a bit, because there’s a heavy impression that the tech team matters more than us. On Histotech day, they get lavished.

              Reply
          3. AnotherAlison

            There IS a “National Engineers Week” which my company used to celebrate by giving everyone (engineer or not) a pancake breakfast. We’re too big for that now, apparently, so the week passes by with no recognition. Today is celebrated on a department-by-department basis, so yeah, in my particular organization, they are singled out and I see it as an unintentionally divisive action.

            Reply
            1. AnotherAlison

              Ugh, I was just thinking some more about this and realized my department collected money for our FEMALE admin, but did not collect anything for our MALE admin. The woman is our department admin and the man is our project coordinator, but it is an admin role, and we previously had a woman in the role who got the same treatment as our department admin. Hmmm. I’m not located in the main office anymore so I just ignored the whole thing, but now I might call out the organizers. . .

              Reply
              1. CmdrShepard4ever

                I know it is not your fault but this is the kind of behavior that gives support to the idea of getting rid of the day. This can alienate both people, the women support staff for making it into a gendered thing, and the man for no being appreciated it or thought of. I am a man in a small office in an admin support role with a women in a admin support role as well, we were both given a card and a cupcake. I like the day but I would feel slighted if my female coworker was recognized and I was not.

                I would urge to talk to the organizers about it. No need to “call them out” but just casually mention how it looks and how it can damage morale.

                Reply
            2. Wintermute

              we celebrate it here at the national engineering office too, it’s nice, they highlight different engineers in history and do trivia and put up some posters, we get a mug, it’s nice.

              Reply
          4. Roentgen Man

            I think Healthcare must be different. We all get our own day. Our Admin supervisor did a really nice nacho bar with a movie theater theme. Everyone came down and got to watch Coco on their lunch in the conference room decorated like a movie theater.. They have nice little gift baskets set up with popcorn and candy. It was awesome. We had Dr.’s Day 2 weeks ago or so. Radiologic Technologists Week is in October. Medical records has a week. I think the Laboratory professionals week is this week also. Nurses get a week. I think it’s fun and gives people something to look forward too in an otherwise regular boring week. As a manager it’s a challenge to come up with something people will want for $15 a head but we do our best to make it cool.

            Reply
            1. RabbitRabbit

              Yup, healthcare is its own thing. We just had lab week, there’s even a research professionals day!

              Reply
            2. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian

              In our lab, the support staff (admins, supply, client service, transcription, etc) end up having to prepare and organize anything that celebrates somebody. Our boss used to recognize us with a few flowers and a handwritten card on Admin day, but hasn’t the last couple years. There’s a feeling of favoritism definitely because on Histotech Day, they get lavished with treats and goodies (put together by the support team, with leaning from the bosses if it’s not “enough”), but during Client Service week, or Transcription week, or whatever, nobody says or does anything if the support staff doesn’t handle it. So if we want appreciation, we have to appreciate ourselves. It definitely rankles.

              Reply
          5. Lo Squared

            I was gonna say- when you work in healthcare, everyone has a ‘day’: nurses, fellows, child life, social work, PAs, etc. if admin professionals didn’t have a day, they’d miss out! I realize this is unique to this one particular work setting though.

            Reply
    2. Indie

      “That’s such a kind thought! But I don’t celebrate it.”

      “Just personally, I’m not crazy about admin roles being singled out”

      “I like to be treated the same as non admins”

      “I think admin day is a little bit dated”

      “People feel like it’s rude to ignore a calendar day, but I’m a modern admin who prefers good pay to nice flowers. What’s your preference?”

      Reply
    3. hbc

      I think bosses can lay out Alison’s logic to the non-admin staff either when they’re approached about it or around the time when someone might start making arrangements. Heck, sending a link to this article is probably sufficient.

      But if no one’s throwing parties or giving gifts and is just saying it in passing, I’d address it myself with a breezy, “And Happy [warehouse worker/accountant/CEO]’s Day to you!” If they act confused, you can tell them that you don’t know when their Day is, so you’ve just decided it’s easier to keep it even by acknowledging it on the same day. Either they’re stuck arguing that you need to honor them on their day (in which case, parity) or arguing how your job is so much different (in which case, they will either recognize the subtle bias or reveal a strong bias.)

      Reply
    4. anathema

      I’m more concerned with this part of your comment “so I get all the respect that the men around here do”

      Reply
    5. Wintermute

      Sadly it’s a double bind, as Alison pointed out.

      Because you stand an even-money chance of offending someone either way you go, either offending someone that wants recognition but didn’t get any or vice versa. I think this is one of those cultural changes that starts with thinkpieces like this, and just sort of pervades culture slowly, as norms change.

      If you feel very strongly about it, I think it has to start at the top, so you could ask your boss or whomever would be doing the perfunctory honors to send out something explaining that they’re not “celebrating” and why, and asking employees to join them in creating a more inclusive workspace by doing the same, maybe with a link right here or to the parent article.

      Reply
  3. Semi-regular

    I don’t agree. This doesn’t have to be an either or situation. We can pay admins well, treat them with respect and value their work at the same time as we celebrate their work on a particular day. In fact, I don’t think taking away the day will magically make those other things happen across the board anyway.

    Reply
    1. Amber Rose

      But by that argument we should have a day for all positions, or at least all the under recognized ones of which I can easily list 20 off the top of my head.

      Reply
      1. Semi-regular

        It’s not an argument, it’s my opinion. I am not opposed to celebrating people for their work, whatever they may do.

        Reply
          1. Semi-regular

            Well this is pretty snarky, there is no need to be rude. I don’t agree with the premise of Alison’s article, I still respect her voice and I’m not attempting to change anyone’s mind, I can see the other side, I just don’t agree. I think there is a big difference between an argument and stating an opinion, you are free to disagree.

            Reply
                1. Jesca

                  Like basically every opinion is an “argument” but not every time we present an opinion do we want to “argue it”. :P

            1. LBK

              I think there is a big difference between an argument and stating an opinion, you are free to disagree.

              That’s…what she’s doing? This is a forum, not a suggestion box. People are encouraged to engage in debate with other commenters.

              Reply
              1. essEss

                For me, an argument is a statement with the intent of telling others that they should change their position to match the statement.
                An opinion is making a statement so that others understand what you believe even if their belief is different.
                In writing, it is difficult to tell the tone of ‘intent’ when simply making a statement of opinion unless you specifically say that they are wrong while making your statement.

                Reply
                1. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant

                  An argument has premises and a conclusion. The conclusion “Therefore Admin Professionals’ Day should continue” in the top post of the thread is pretty clearly implied.

                2. LBK

                  There is no way to just make a statement in a forum. Like I said, this isn’t a suggestion box – if you’re going to engage in the discussion by making a comment, particularly a comment that disagrees with the article, by default you’re inviting argument. If you don’t want to debate (aka argue), either don’t comment or just ignore follow up comments to yours. I’m so confused why you’d bother to continue to engage in something while still claiming you’re not arguing.

              2. Semi-regular

                And I AM engaging with her, I’m just not allowing her to frame my comment as more adversarial than it really is.

                By the way, what’s the deal with commenters starting a sentence with a word and then ellipses and then finishing the sentence. To me, that implies a tone of sarcasm and snark.

                “That’s….how sentences work in a conversation” is what I was reacting to.

                Reply
                1. LBK

                  I don’t see how she was framing your comment as adversarial, that’s why I’m being snarky/sarcastic. Although ironically you are now being weirdly adversarial and aggressive about this.

              3. Tyrion

                Could this possibly be done without the obnoxious ellipses and condescending interrogatives, which obviously imply “this is so crushingly obvious, how could you not be so stupid as to not see it”?

                Reply
                1. Semi-regular

                  Actually, no, you have inferred that. It makes no difference to me if admin day continues or not. I disagree with the premise that it must end because it’s inherently patronizing no and sexist. If it ends, so be it, I just don’t think this is a good reason. I wasn’t making an argument or trying to change anyone’s mind, I heard and understood the reasoning is Alisons article, and it’s valid to hold that opinion and it’s just a valid for me to hold mine.

                2. Kevlar

                  ^Semi-regular: I think Tyrion’s comment is directed toward LBK and not yours but maybe I’m incorrect. It sounds like you’re both asking the same question I have, and that’s what is the deal with the obnoxious “…” or pauses and then stating something as if you’re stupid for not grasping the concept. It’s disrespectful even if that’s not the intention.

                3. LBK

                  I only intended to express confusion at the uproar over Amber Rose’s fairly innocuous comment. I don’t understand why using the term “argument” was such a big deal that it’s merited this whole comment thread.

    2. LSP

      Having the day allows employers to think they are doing the “right thing”, though, and I think that’s the problem. I agree that all members of a workplace who do their work well should be rewarded, including admins, but those rewards shouldn’t be in flowers and cards, but in fair salaries, PTO and bonuses, like the real, grown-up professionals they are. As long as this day is in place, it works in a way to treat a symptom of sexism, while allowing employers to never have to face the disease itself.

      Reply
      1. Semi-regular

        I think my post was pretty clear that both things can be done simultaneously. Getting rid of the day isn’t going to make people respect and financially/professionally reward Admins. People who respect support staff will do so, whether there is a day or not and people who don’t respect support staff won’t respect them anymore just because we make the day go away. This is my opinion, of course, YMMV.

        Reply
      2. Been There, Done That

        I’d also include that all members of the workplace should have a fair shot at advancement, and not just on the admin track.

        Reply
    3. Kaitastic

      I don’t see the problem with it either. Where I work we have appreciation weeks for almost every department. My staff take that week to do something for ourselves. I’ve made them treats and we’ve played games. It’s just a time that we set aside to recognize all that we do just like the other departments do when it’s their week. It sounds odd to push back on this. Maybe it’s just the work culture that I’m use to

      Reply
      1. Semi-regular

        You explained it better than me. This is my point, I just don’t see the inherent sexist or patronizing nature of it; I suppose it could be DONE in such a way that makes it that way, but I think getting rid of the day is extinguishing a match with a fire hose. People like to be recognized, for the most part.

        Reply
        1. sunshyne84

          Same, I’ll take whatever you want to give me. Seems like the people who aren’t admins would feel a way about not receiving something. I’m technically in a support role and to be honest I don’t feel like my job is as important, but I guess it all depends on the field.

          Reply
        2. Specialk9

          Out of curiosity, are you male? I’m having a hard time imagining a woman, especially a woman in an often underpaid, under-appreciated, and gendered role *not* recognising instinctively its sexism. And I say this as a well paid manager (who has also held gendered poorly paid jobs in my ramen days).

          Reply
          1. Kaitastic

            I’m also a woman and totally agree with semi-regular. I never have interpreted these things in an oppressive or sexist way. Probably because whenever I see treats I immediately think “yay, candy!” and not “how dare they!”

            Reply
    4. A Beth

      +1
      While we’re working towards making admin positions/pay/benefits/perceptions more equitable, why not go the extra mile on this one day? Lord knows we ask it of admins often enough.

      Reply
      1. Semi-regular

        Well I agree with that, I just don’t think getting rid of the day accomplishes the first set of important goals. Just scrolling through, I am observing that while many don’t appreciate, many do very much appreciate it so I just disagree with the premise of the article.

        Reply
        1. Luna

          People can appreciate the thought that an individual person put into a gift while still disagreeing with the premise of the day.

          Reply
      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        I don’t know—we do both at my current workplace, and we did the same at my previous 2 employers. At Current Job, we (lawyers) have a limited ability to control our admins’ raises, but we advocate for them receiving the highest possible raises under their CBA each year, receiving funding and compensation for professional development opportunities, and granting generous leave.

        Today, we also bought them flowers, wrote thank you cards, bought their favorite desserts, gave them money that we pay for out of our personal funds, and wrote an email to the muckety mucks about the ways in which our admin staff went above and beyond this quarter. We also say thank you, write them thank you notes, take them out on their work anniversaries, give them cash gifts as a mini-“bonus” (our employer doesn’t do bonuses), and recognize them publicly throughout the year–just rarely all on the same day.

        [Caveat: Our department is only lawyers and admins, but we’re in a larger institution with tons of bureaucracy over which the lawyers have very little control/influence/power. Plus, celebrating lawyers would create a lot of exploitative “Boss’s Day”-style pressure that we do not want to impose on our admins.]

        Reply
        1. Traffic_Spiral

          Aw, but I love “Be Kind To Lawyer’s Day!” All us lawyers get together to drink and cry about how we’re not appreciated enough.

          Reply
    5. Former Retail Manager

      I completely agree, especially the last sentence. While I see Alison’s point, the fact that is that what should be, often isn’t. I can assure you that if there were no admin prof day, none of the ungrateful people I work with would ever do jack squat for our admin. She is certainly treated respectfully throughout the year, but some people are so busy/self-absorbed/jerky that they need an occasion to be reminded that maybe they should do something nice for this person who helps them out on a regular basis. This is just an occasion to give her some modest gifts and show a little extra appreciation.

      Reply
    6. smoke tree

      But I think the issue is that a lot of people in administrative roles might not appreciate the one day of recognition a year if they feel like they’re not otherwise treated with respect. Particularly if the “recognition” feels patronizing or weirdly gender-specific.

      Reply
    7. Indie

      I can see some people might enjoy it. But how does each particular admin feel? The very nature of individual opinions makes it problematic. Why not just have team appreciation/ work anniversary and ensure admins are celebrated as ‘one of the team’

      Reply
      1. Been There, Done That

        The first year I had a job in which no one gave me a card for admin day was one of my happiest times ever.

        Reply
    8. Wintermute

      I think it’s helpful to understand the context of secretaries’ day, in that it was intended to highlight the value of “invisible work”, because presumably people that get big sales accounts or finish big projects or production quotas.

      The day-to-day work of a good admin is totally invisible, they’re like IT in that they keep the place running, but IT at least has projects that they can point at– “Switching to off-the-shelf ticketing software saved us two million dollars in development costs per year”, “automation scripts have eliminated 10,000 minutes of repetitive tasks, etc.

      So there’s no “you scored the big account” or “we did it” or “good work on that project”, so they set aside a day for us to think about all the things it takes to allow us to do our jobs distraction-free. Because no one is going to randomly come back from a trip and say “thanks for not messing up my flight booking” or “we’ve gone 100 days without a conference room booking conflict, well done!”

      Reply
  4. Kay

    My office pays for a delicious lunch on this day. Ordered, setup, and cleaned up by the administrative professionals!

    Reply
    1. Jen

      OMG ha ha. Sounds like a company I worked for back in the day. HR organized an employee appreciation event at a local casino. They rented a large meeting space and had cocktails and appetizers… and the admins needed to provide the bartending and waitressing services!!

      Reply
      1. Lance

        Wow. How nice of them to grace the admin staff with the opportunity to serve the rest (except not at all).

        Reply
      2. A Nickname for AAM

        One of my branch directors threw an Employee Appreciation Pool Party at our pool. Without telling Aquatics. So our Aquatics Director had to set up and run a party and our lifeguards had to lifeguard on a Friday night as appreciation for their work.

        Reply
      3. Rob aka Mediancat

        When my company does something like this, it’s the folks from supervisor on up who are doing the serving, typically, plus they at least assist in the setup and breakdown.

        Reply
    2. Parenthetically

      I’ve told the story before about how I once had to work overtime to order and set up two meals’ worth of catering, set up the room, find a volunteer to cover my desk, and clean up after a day-long office-wide seminar on “Work-Life Balance.”

      Reply
    3. Sally

      Yeah, when I worked in Customer Service, we had “Customer Service Appreciation Week” – put on by the Customer Service department, of course.

      Reply
    1. tink

      I think ours just went out to everyone in my place of work. I’m glad it was just an email and not snacks though, because they only ever provide snacks at the main office, and I work at a satellite office about 35 minutes away. (We always miss out on snacks or provided lunches, and it gets mildly annoying to see them happening after a while.)

      Reply
    2. Mh

      I received a dollar store photo frame with a note “we’re glad you are on our administrative support team.” I’m not on the administrative support team and neither is my officemate who also received one (not everyone in office received them.)

      Reply
    3. Gaia

      A friend got flowers today from her team. She’s not an admin. She is, however, the only woman in a team of 20.

      Honestly I’m surprised the flowers didn’t end up as mulch.

      Reply
      1. AnotherAlison

        They may fully realize she is not an admin, but if it’s the kind of company where all the support roles are filled by women, and the operations roles are only 5% women, then they might think they are doing the right thing by not leaving her out when all the other women are getting flowers. Like getting something for “like a mom” women who do not have kids on mother’s day. (I don’t agree, but I can see where they may have started off with good intentions and then veered off track.)

        Reply
        1. Lars the Real Girl

          That line of thinking is super infantilizing and does not get to be called “good intentions”. The underlying premise of “not leaving her out” is that she’s so childish that she’s going to feel left out if she didn’t get the shiny tiara because all of the other little girls did. No. We don’t get to call that misguided, it’s misogynistic and it has no place in an office.

          Reply
        2. LBK

          That’s not any less sexist…”well we don’t want to leave her out of this woman holiday!” Except admin day is not a(n explicitly) woman holiday, and it’s insulting to think that a grown woman is going to feel sad she didn’t get flowers like all the other women. An adult woman is smart enough to understand that she is not an admin and that’s why she doesn’t get the admin present.

          Reply
        3. Bea

          If someone ever gives me a mother’s day bouquet because maybe I could be a mom because I’m a woman I’ll tell them to get out of my office and ice them out.

          Reply
        4. AnotherAlison

          Oof that was misinterpreted. The good intention is not leaving someone out. They went off track when including people by gender rather than job role. I don’t agree with getting non moms stuff

          Reply
          1. AnotherAlison

            …either. My mom recognizes my sister on Mother’s day even though she has no kids. It is dumb, but she thinks it is fair.

            Reply
    4. A Person

      The head of our organization sent an email to the entire organization wishing us a happy Administrative Professional Day.

      I suppose he sees everyone who isn’t him as support staff.

      I doubt that made the actual admin professionals feel very special.

      Reply
    5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

      Many years ago, a coworker got flowers and edible arrangements (iirc) on admins day. She was not an admin, she worked in the IT department with me doing customer support for our software product. Communicating change requests to the vendor who owned the old version of the software, writing requirements for and testing the new version of the software that we were writing, basically a BA role. I did not even like the woman, and I still cringe when I remember it. The awfulness of what happened didn’t hit me until a few years later, I was still new to the US then and did not know what Admin Day was.

      Reply
    6. Mallory Janis Ian

      Our deans assistant put nice cards in the mailboxes of anyone here who is classified as “staff” (versus “faculty”) and she had one person get mad at her for insinuating that she is in an admin role. The deans assistant considers anyone who is “staff” to be “support” to the job that the faculty are doing, but the other person felt patronized and didn’t appreciate the gesture.

      Reply
      1. SarahTheEntwife

        I would be really pissed to get that. If were in a direct support role to a faculty member or academic department, cool, but my actual staff position supports the mission of the university, just as the faculty members’ positions do. I’m not just doing grunt work so the faculty can do the Important Business.

        Reply
        1. CmdrShepard4ever

          I get feeling frustrated if you feel that your contributions and work that you do is not valued. But I think that seems to be a different issue from being “really pissed” for being lumped in with us lowly admin assistants/secretaries and that we are just doing grunt work that is not important. Depending on what level you want to look at it if the mission of a university is to teach students everyone including faculty is in a support role towards that mission. While yes a Systems Admins, in charge of making sure the students email accounts and web portals are running, time is worth more than an admin assistant, making copies and sending check requests both are important business. Yes the grunt work, filing or scheduling that we do is repetitive it is still important to freeing up the higher ups to focus on bigger picture.

          Reply
          1. Luna

            +1. I get being pissed if it is a situation where you are only singled out because you are a woman. But there are many offices now who treat this day as a more general staff appreciation day. people who get pissed at that are arrogant jerks.

            And admin staff who work directly with faculty do much more work to support the mission of the organization than any other staff position, because the faculty’s research & teaching IS the mission. Sorry SarahTheEntwife, but you are not on the same level as faculty.

            Reply
          2. Michaela Westen

            Last year our Grandboss retired and we went to his farewell party. When he saw us he said, “the support staff! We could not do our jobs without you!” and took a picture with us. :)

            Reply
      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        I would be pissed if I were staff, too. There are so many positions that have nothing to do with supporting the faculty, and treating them as if they’re all the same because they’re non-faculty is pretty demoralizing and disrespectful. I suspect the staff already feel that the faculty/administration don’t understand (or care to understand) what they do or their role in the institution, and putting cards in all their boxes probably reinforces those feelings.

        Reply
        1. Luna

          I disagree. The only people at a university who are doing 100% of the core mission work are faculty and students. Everyone else there is there to support the faculty & students, just in different ways.

          Reply
          1. Ellie Bee

            I am wondering what your reasoning behimd this belief is? There are plenty of jobs at universities that are not faculty but are still heavily involved in the mission. I’m specifically thinking about people who work in admissions, student services, etc. I used to work for the counseling services center for a university (provided counseling to students, we didn’t teach counseling) and no one working there was considered faculty. Given, I was in an admin role there, but I would never consider the psychologists and therapists who work there to be support staff to the faculty at the university. I actually just looked up the core mission statement of my old college, and can think of numerous non faculty positions doing 100% of the core mission work.

            Reply
      3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

        I had a very tiny sliver of exposure to the academia, in the two years while I had a bf who taught at a liberal arts college. Attended work parties with him and whatnot. I was shocked to see a, for lack of a better word, caste system where the faculty vs staff was concerned. I am an IT professional. I’d always gotten nothing but respect from the people I have met in my life for what I do for a living. Until I found myself in that LAC environment. Their IT staff is grossly underpaid and the faculty looks down on them (and, by extension, did on me too) and sees them as support who are only there so that, to quote another comment, the faculty can do the Important Business. I am reading the above comment to mean that the IT professionals at the school found the Happy Admin Day cards in their mailboxes too; along with all other professional staff members? I’d find it extremely demoralizing if it were to happen to me. PS. I dreaded those college parties. And I dreaded being asked “so, what do you do?” because I knew I’d have to apologize to the person for what I do for a living. Except the question would usually be “so, what do you teach?” Ack, I break out in cold sweat just remembering that.

        Reply
    7. Angela Ziegler

      Same. I didn’t realize the day used to be ‘Secretary’s Day’ since I’m not a secretary and work in marketing. So it felt insulting when I realized the day used to be that, and felt singled out for being of a certain ‘level’ of worker. Not fun.

      Reply
      1. Smudge

        I had exactly the same thing happen to me this year – the first time I’ve worked in an office that celebrates the day. I work in a local office of a biiiiiiig international law firm, and there’s definitely an argument to be made here that Secretaries’ Day is a good thing, because so many of the lawyers take their admin support completely for granted – but the same lawyers also find it very difficult to grasp the concept of people who are NEITHER lawyers NOR secretaries. As half of a two-person business development team, in a role that used to be administrative but has now been dramatically ‘upskilled’, I already spent a LOT of time dealing with people who are very confused about what it is I do (and don’t do). Being wished a happy Secretaries’ Day by clueless associates, most of whom have nearly identical qualifications to me, was… trying.

        That said, despite my personal frustrations on this score (and they are legion), it’s probably not a bad thing for the office overall – the secretaries’ do an awful lot of hard work for very little recognition. The only problem is that it’s not centralised at all, so what that recognition consists of varies hugely between people. One of our very best secretaries, a lovely woman who is a mentor to many of the others, spends the day crying in the bathroom every single year because the team of lawyers she works for can’t get it together sufficiently to actually remember to do something for her.

        Reply
    8. Kathleen_A

      Forgive the long story, but I wonder if anybody else has encountered this particular situation.

      It used to be commonplace around here that the…let’s call them “outside salesmen,” since originally all were male and in fact their actual title was just as genderized as “salesman”…Anyway, the outside salesmen would give cash presents to the all-female secretarial staff at Christmas. I don’t know what you’d call these presents – a tip or a bonus, maybe. This continued until just the last few years, although recently it’s been done on only a very limited basis because only a few old-school old-timers (men, of course – there are lots of women on the outside staff now, and I don’t think any of the women carried over the custom) kept the practice up.

      But anyway, I always thought it very, very odd. The assumptions or presumptions involved just boggled my mind. Were the admins rewarded this way while the rest of us were not because they were thought to be poorly paid – or poor? (Which is odd because at least a couple of them earn more than I do. And isn’t it pretty icky and tricky to speculate on people’s financial position?) Was it because the outside salesmen knew how big of a PITA they’d been to the admin staff and figured this was one way to make up for it? (This is also odd because the outside salesmen who were PITAs to the admins were definitely PITAs to the rest of us as well.) Did the outside salesmen think of it like the tip you give the paper boy?

      I just did not get it, and I don’t think the admin staff did either, so it’s good that it’s pretty much disappeared.

      It was in the waning days of this custom that my department’s long-time admin decided to retire. At that time, my department decided that while we could of course find plenty of use for a good admin – who could not? – we had a bigger need for someone in an entirely different role. Let’s call it “editorial assistant.” In a perfect world, we would have an admin and an editorial assistant, but this is not a perfect world. (Plus, while our retired admin was very sweet, she was, honestly, not very good at her job, so we had already pretty much accustomed ourselves to doing without that kind of support anyway.) Therefore, instead of refilling the position vacated by the retired admin, we opted to fund the editorial assistant position instead, and we’ve done without an admin ever since.

      The editorial assistant we hired was great…but she was *not happy* when a couple of the old-school salesmen included her in their annual tips to secretaries. She did not appreciate being invited to the Administrative Assistants Day luncheon, either.

      Reply
      1. KX

        As long as we are just surmising… maybe they thought about it like sharing tips/earnings. Don’t wait staff (waiters) share with bus staff (bus boys) in some restaurants? Because keeping tables clean makes waiting tables more productive or profitable? I can see a similar sense of obligation for salespeople earning commission, at least in the olden days.

        Reply
        1. Kathleen_A

          I’m so sorry – I’m afraid my use of the term “salesman” misled you. Nobody works on commission here, so I don’t quite see how that could be a factor.

          Reply
    1. Been There, Done That

      And reading comments about people’s irked reactions to being mistakenly included in the admin recognition speaks volumes about the regard people have for the admin role. Is anyone ever insulted by being mistaken for an accountant or a shoe designer or a bartender?

      Reply
      1. Parfait

        Depends. Are you chirpily saying to your accountant in a condescending sing-song voice “Thank you for all you do!” while handing them a rose?

        That made me see red when I was a secretary back in the day.

        It’s not a neutral kind of recognition.

        Reply
        1. Luna

          But the insult should be that the day exists at all, not “how dare the important people think I’m one of those lowly admins, I’m so much better than them”

          Reply
          1. Anonymous72

            As someone who went from secretary to faculty, and as someone with two advanced degrees and an upcoming doctorate, it really upsets me when colleagues unknowingly assume I’m an admin because I’m a young woman. It’s not that I’m better than admins. It’s that I worked hard to break the pink collar ceiling and build my career in a STEM field. I bust my butt to keep my career and move toward tenure.

            To that end, I don’t book your (general) rooms. I don’t make your copies. I don’t drop what I’m doing and come when you (general) shout my name down the hallway. I don’t sweat and bleed at events because it’s my job to make sure they run smoothly, rather than sitting and enjoying the time with colleagues and students. I don’t clean up your break room. I don’t clean up your events. I don’t enter your data. I don’t tidy the supply closet and order your pens. I don’t take your minutes. I don’t renew your subscriptions. I don’t file your papers. I don’t handle your RSVPs. I don’t clear my calendar of my scheduled meetings and events so I can cover your meeting at the last minute. I don’t owe you a smile. I don’t owe you pleasantries. And I sure as hell don’t owe grumpy old men anything when they chase me down in the hallway and demand that I put in a work order to fix their classroom lights – “well, what do you mean you won’t? You’re a secretary!”

            So…. why do I regularly have to tell colleagues all of that? While my male colleagues in my department aren’t bothered with those sort of requests? That’s the insult.

            Admins work hard and take very little credit for their work. They’re often perceived as separate from other staff and perceived as working “for” everyone rather than “with” everyone; they’re not perceived as coworkers but as support, even by other staff, and it drives me crazy. I respect the work and the career. I’ve done the work and had the career, but it’s no longer my work and to my career. I don’t appreciate others assuming it’s my work and career because I “fit the bill.” I teach hundreds of students and direct a clinical program. For me, it’s not about the totem-pole or the classification or being perceived as doing “lowly” work. If I was a man, I wouldn’t have to explain myself to others who assume I’m support or defend against being perceived as a young woman in a support role. I’m insulted by being mistaken for something because of my gender.

            Reply
  5. Not a Real Giraffe

    If you work in an office with a large administrative staff who all report up to different managers, the disparity in celebrations/recognition can be hurtful, too. I once worked as an administrative assistant at a Big 4 firm and supported two wonderful people who made sure I felt valued and recognized every day.

    The administrative assistant who sat next to me, who supported someone else, often did not know how to handle her own work and I stepped in on a near-daily basis to lend a helping hand. When Administrative Professionals Day came around, my two managers gave me a nice gift that they knew I liked. My colleague’s manager got a cash bonus that was 10-times the value of my gift.

    All the support I felt on a daily basis from my managers could not counteract how I felt when I saw an under-performing colleague be recognized disproportionately to me on that one day.

    Reply
    1. As Close As Breakfast

      Ooof, that’s awful. And I’m not sure anything could counteract how you felt, I would have been the exact same! Like, you /know/ that logically what you have is better, but in the moment on that day? Ouch.

      Reply
  6. LSP

    The professional world is filled with the back-handed, pseudo-compensations. I find companies that want to celebrate and use the birth of a baby to one of its employees as a morale boost, while not providing any sort of maternity leave to be in the same vein. These kinds of issues always seem to be focused on areas that generally affect women, because despite the fact that there are more women in the workplace than ever, and there are more female breadwinners in the U.S., we are not truly equal in so many ways.

    Reply
    1. Kalamet

      That’s a great comparison. I’ve worked at companies that made a big deal of Mothers / Fathers day while giving terrible parental benefits. It’s not that celebrating something is inherently bad, it’s that so many companies act like that one holiday makes up for the lack of support year-round.

      Reply
    2. Emily S.

      Agreed. Very good points. Sadly, so much of the problem is systematic/ingrained.

      I do believe progress is happening for working women, but it’s darn slow.

      Reply
    3. MLB

      Exactly. I would also like to add the whole “Bring your CHILD to work day”. It started as “Bring your DAUGHTER to work day” but changed because god forbid we exclude the boys. Including all children defeats the purpose of the day, which was to show young girls that they can be whatever they want to be, regardless of what society tells them. And while things have come a long way since the days of women staying barefoot and pregnant at home, they still have a long way to go.

      Reply
        1. Jessica

          Certainly, but that wasn’t the original point. “Bring your child to work” is just like “all lives matter.”

          Reply
          1. only acting normal

            Yeah, if my father’s job had that he’d have interpreted it as “child” = singular, so one of us (max), & “work” = man stuff, so he’d have taken my brother. :-/

            Reply
          2. anonymous gov. lawyer

            YES. Please do not drown out social justice issues by insisting the interest of the not-oppressed must also be served in every argument.

            Reply
      1. Scubacat

        Hmmm. I’d say that bring your Kid to Work day is an okay thing for society to do. When I was that age, I wanted to follow Dad around at work. Due to military security though, it wasn’t possible. So I spent a day with Mom at a daycare. Three years later, younger brother also job shadowed Mom at the daycare. Brother and I both agreed that our future careers would not be in the childcare industry. It was too hard!

        Reply
      2. anonymous gov. lawyer

        Agree. This bugs me. I am a mid-career professional (not that old) and most of my friends’ moms stayed home with us in the 80s. I know a LOT of stay at home moms (not dads). It’s not like the message that women should be aware of professional opportunities too shouldn’t be directed at little girls any more. This is an event that had a point directed at a sexist social problem, and it has been drowned out because god forbid boys get left out of something. It’s like saying “all lives matter” in response to black lives matter. Of course they do, but this is directed at a specific injustice so can we please allow some focus where it is needed?

        /end rant

        Reply
    4. Anxa

      Oh wow. I get a huge influx of emails at my job (large employer) about new babies and I’m now realizing what it is that rubs me the wrong way about it. I am part of the temp/contingent/contract class of employees, and a lot of the emails come from what seem to be full-time or part-time workers with benefits and their own computers and stuff who live in a different world. They get SOME parental leave, so maybe they don’t realize how weird it feels to get emails from your work celebrating a baby when the employer feels so unfriendly toward having a baby for the rest of us.

      Reply
  7. Elle Kay

    IDK- I was thrilled to come in this morning and find that one of my staff had left me a potted plant and note. There was no pressure for a formal set-up or anything but I felt appreciated that she went out of her way to do so. It’s also deeply clear that I am not “just” the administrative assistant – I keep the place up and running and everyone knows that I’m what allows them to focus on their reserach.

    Reply
      1. Eye of Sauron

        One would assume that Elle Kay also gets a paycheck. Why would you deride something that obviously brought her joy?

        Reply
        1. Mike C.

          Because gifts like these are mostly used as a sop to wages that could be much higher? That she could buy way more plants if she were paid better?

          This was all spelled out in the article.

          Reply
          1. Randy

            Using this logic you can pretty much defeat any non-monetary benefit. In my experience many people feel more appreciated when they receive gestures like this, rather than smaller amounts of money. It is not as simple as trading time for money in many places of work.

            The gift of a plant also does not express that the employer can afford to pay this person more or less….

            Reply
    1. LBK

      I don’t mind it when someone uses it as an excuse to do something nice of their own volition. It’s when the whole office makes a big fuss about it that it feels more demeaning.

      Reply
    2. Elle Kay

      Wow.
      So I make a great wage and am more than happy with it. If your first assumption is that a plant is some kind of cop-out instead of a salary improvement I kind of wonder what planet you live on. Yes, one of my colleagues got me a gift to let me know that she appreciates my work – how on earth could that me a bad thing?

      Reply
  8. BRR

    I was thinking about this post recently. We had a lunch for our department’s admin today and an email went out before hand with one person collecting money for a gift card. My AAM alarms were going crazy due to everything in this post plus if there is going to be a gift for the admin, I think that should be coming from the company. (She has made errors for most of the things I should be able to count on her to handle so I really didn’t feel inclined to contribute.)

    At least my employer skipped on the balloons tied to each of the admin’s chairs this year.

    Reply
    1. Snarkus Aurelius

      This, this, this!

      I always hated contributing to a gift for a person who I think sucks at work or who did something terrible to me.

      You just threw me under the bus because you forgot to do your part…and now you want me to buy you something off your registry???

      Why??!!

      Reply
      1. Coqui

        At my company we received several emails to donate our own money for an admin gift. If we didn’t donate, we didn’t get to sign the card. The same thing happened when the director of a department was leaving – the director made 6-figures a year and if you didn’t chip in money for our department to purchase a gift you didn’t get to sign the card. It looked really bad.

        But not as bad as my partner’s workplace who asks for donations, keeps a spreadsheet of who volunteered the donation, then automatically deducts money from the non-volunteers to purchase the boss a Christmas gift at the end of the year.

        Reply
    1. ThursdaysGeek

      And of course the widely celebrated Systems Administrator Appreciation Day – July 27. (Hey! I have seen it celebrated.)

      Reply
      1. Admin of Sys

        We had cake today. We also have cake on SysAdmins day, once a month for birthdays, and for pretty much any event that gets mentioned. This is primarily because we have people in our office who really like to bake. I get Allison’s point about the idea that it can enforce separation, but I also think that since the admin assistants are often isolated by location (ours man the lobby and therefore don’t hang out in the main office space), having something that specifically makes them more connected to the office, feel appreciated/seen is a good thing.

        Reply
      2. Gadget Hackwrench

        Shamefully, my first thought on reading this was that if we get rid of Admin Assistant day will we have to get rid of SysAdmin Day too? :( I LIKE Systadmin Day. No one is ever grateful to IT on any other day. They just blame us for everything instead.

        Reply
    2. JeanB in NC

      I can celebrate 2 things at once! Wait – three things: Accountant’s Day, Marine Corps Birthday, and my birthday!

      Reply
      1. EmilyG

        I’m aware of that one and Sysadmin Day too (they both crossed my mind while reading the article), but then I realized that they kind of underline Alison’s point about being underappreciated all year and potentially demeaningly observed on the actual day…

        Reply
  9. Snarkus Aurelius

    Administrative Professionals Day is even more ironic in my world because the bulk of that work, a.k.a. women’s grunt work, is literally invisible to the people in charge.

    My old boss would routinely volunteer our conference room for meetings, and then he wouldn’t tell anyone he did it. Attendees would show up with no materials photocopied, no lunches ordered, no projector set up, no conference call information available, and no way to get in because no one gave the guard a list of attendees. I finally came to the conclusion that throughout his entire life, Boss has been showing up to meetings and all that stuff was there so he assumed there was someone else to figure it out.

    Another old boss held a position where he had an assistant and staff to help him with whatever ideas cropped up in his head. (He flitted from idea to idea with no much follow through.) When he left that job, he got another job at a university where he could put on any event or do any project he wanted to. But he didn’t have staff. I remember talking to him about RSVPing late to one of his events, and I asked about ordering extra meals. His response? “Oh don’t worry about it. I haven’t been keeping track so I ordered a bunch of food. The more the merrier! There’s always more food! It’s a hotel!”

    AAM is right. This job is one you have to recognize and reward *throughout the year* and at least be aware of the existing job duties. And, no, flowers aren’t a proper reward.

    Reply
    1. paul

      Wouldn’t the people borrowing the room be responsible for that, not your boss? I know we have to do that ourselves when we rent a conference room.

      Reply
      1. Snarkus Aurelius

        Normally, yes. But the person he loans it to is like him. So those details are never discussed so they never get done. It ends up falling on the admin staff who never know when it’s coming.

        Reply
        1. Specialk9

          It would seem like he would have figured that out the 3rd, or 15th, time he was embarrassed publicly. I can’t even imagine how you kept from throttling him!

          Reply
  10. Pickaduck

    Well, our Admin staff is revered here and paid pretty well. I don’t know what their direct supervisors do about the day, but I (a director) bring them cookies on this day and it seems to go over well. Of course I also do this other times, too. I don’t think it is seen as patronizing, at least I hope not!

    Reply
    1. Crystal

      Yeah, my admin is great and knows she’s great but today she gets an extra little something something. Without her my job would be 10x harder & we work for a government agency and she already makes the highest step she can make and I can’t control things like benefits and PTO, etc. – that’s regulated. So yeah, she’s getting a gift today.

      Reply
    2. Admin2

      I think the thought is excellent, but are you sure they aren’t sensitive to gluten, or trying to eat healthier? If you really don’t know them personally, I always recommend a well written thank you card and gift card to a grocery store as a first option.

      Reply
      1. TootsNYC

        as someone who can’t eat gluten, I’m always happy to see my colleagues enjoying cookies. And I can appreciate the intent, because it’s hard to find a “sandwich” everybody likes.

        Reply
        1. Ellie Bee

          Right. You aren’t going to find something that works for everyone. Even in Admin2’s example, you may reccomend that as the first option, but that would not be an appropriate gift for everyone either. When I was working as an admin, I personally would have found a grocery store gift card on admin day somewhat insulting. Like my boss was insinuating that I couldn’t afford my own groceries because of my job title. If Pickaduck has found something that seems to work well for their staff there is no reason to pick it apart with hypotheticals.

          Reply
  11. merry

    I work in a customer service department and our boss asked all of us if we would like cupcakes, flowers or plants and the consensus was a toss up so we are all eagerly awaiting his arrival today. We all get the same thing and it’s something to look forward to, so I’m ok with it!

    Reply
    1. merry

      Update: he brought plants, flowers AND cupcakes and we each get a cupcake and get to pick whether we want a flower or a plant!!

      Reply
  12. AnonEMoose

    I’ve worked in admin support. My current position is still administrative in nature, although it’s not a support function.

    I think one of the biggest frustrations with this work is that, if you do your job well, the work that goes into it can be largely invisible to others. But if something goes wrong, whether or not it was within your control…guess who gets the blame? And people do still (unfortunately) tend to think of the admins as not “part of the team” in the same way that others are. So when bonuses or rewards are handed out, the admins are all too often left out, even if their contributions were essential, just more behind the scenes.

    So a question I would put out there is how to change this? How do we got about making sure admins get appropriately recognized for their work, and that their contributions are appropriately valued? When I was working in that capacity, I fairly regularly got thanks and appreciation expressed by my bosses, which is always nice, but how can we make this work less invisible and more appreciated?

    Reply
    1. Luna

      I feel you, your second paragraph perfectly explains how I felt when I was an admin. I loved the job itself (the people were great, it paid well, and I was really good at it). But it was very isolating as I was the only admin for my team and I never quite belonged.

      For me the biggest way to feel valued would have been having actual career growth. Not just raises or empty title changes (though of course those never hurt) but actual growth in the complexity of the work I was allowed to do. The people who held me back the most were not the executives who I supported, but other staff in different departments who I think felt either threatened or offended at the idea of me, a mere admin, being allowed to do similar work to them- despite the fact that they were constantly messing things up for my group so TBH I would have done a better job than them, in part because I cared more about my people and making sure things went smoothly for them. Not having any way to grow, in both job title and skill/responsibility level, left me totally demoralized and was the reason why I left that job.

      Reply
      1. Genny

        I hear a lot from admins that they want career path that allows them to grow professionally, but I’m never quite sure what they want that to look like. In your opinion, how do you structure career growth in a field that generally has limits on how far you can go?

        I can see a basic career progression from receptionist to office assistant to office manager to executive assistant. Is that what you mean? Or do you have in mind a path with more branches (like receptionist to office assistant to technical assistant and down the IT/knowledge management path – i.e. something that ultimately takes you out of the admin professional field)?

        Reply
        1. Who the eff is Hank?

          Admin skills can transfer to a lot of different things– program/project management, event planning, client account management, etc. Every person is different and has different goals and ways they want to grow and use their skills.

          I’m currently a program manager for a nonprofit who started as an administrative assistant about 12 years ago. I started off juggling the random admin work of a small team and now I juggle the massive amount of admin work required to manage a $1 million community program.

          Reply
          1. Luna

            Exactly, most admins I know would make amazing program/project managers if ever allowed the opportunity. It also varies a lot depending on the type of organization (for example I work in higher ed so there could be opportunities on the student/academic side, research coordination, grants management, contracts, etc. Most of the staff, other than the highest level directors, who work in those other areas have no special degrees or skills that the admins don’t- and in fact I had more degrees as an admin than most of the other staff).

            Reply
        2. AnonEMoose

          I’d like to see more branches, personally. The skills a good admin has (organization, prioritizing, communication, to name a few) are often highly transferable. But when a non-admin position opens up, admins are often overlooked, even if they have many of the qualifications, and could quickly pick up the rest.

          Of course, I suspect that part of the reason the admin may not be considered is that they’re perceived as “too valuable in their current role” to lose. That’s not the only reason, but it may be one of them in a not-insignificant number of cases.

          Reply
        3. Jennifer

          I’d love to be an analyst (I’m forbidden from getting to become one here unless I can land another job) that takes me out of the admin route, because I don’t want to manage anyone. But nobody can really figure out advancement without becoming a manager.

          Reply
        4. Morning Glory

          Genny,

          I am genuinely curious why you cannot see other paths for administrative assistants the way you likely can for other junior-level positions?

          Most admins today have at minimum, a Bachelor’s degree. In my day to day work, I’ve built SharePoint sites and learned some HTML/CSS to customize them. I’ve done project management and coordination, drafted articles and blog posts, checked references for papers for peer reviewed publication, done literature reviews, learned Tableau and Google Data Studio for data visualization, handle a huge amount of accounts payable and expense reconciliation, design PowerPoint presentations, write a weekly newsletter with very high engagement statistics, have traveled for client trainings, have written proposals for new business, organized large events, hosted webinars, and coordinated a multitude of contracts.

          I am close to having a Msc, and my organization often attracts assistants with advanced degrees by positioning this as a junior level position with opportunities for advancement. Then when we arrive we find out that we are actually secretaries in the administrative family and are lower-status than interns. And that many people see admins who do want to move up as no good ‘foot in the door’ types who are delusional to think we could possibly move up because, by virtue of having the word assistant in our title, we are inherently unqualified for anything non-administrative.

          Perhaps you should make an effort to learn more about the admins on your team, their backgrounds, and what they actually do? Most people on my team, for example, know nothing about SharePoint and have no idea that our site requires coding. If they did know, they’d automatically devalue it to ‘admin-level coding’ (admittedly, it is fairly basic) but that same level of skill would be considered a valuable contribution from another team member. Do you have these same biases when it comes to how you see work or projects that happened to be done by an admin vs. another team member?

          Reply
          1. Genny

            I ask because most of the admins I’ve worked with have wanted to stay in admin type roles, but are naturally still looking for career growth and professional development. So for example, they might know SharePoint basics because of their job, but they don’t want to become the SharePoint manager (which, at least in my office, would be a move from admin to IT). I was curious if other people feel the same way when they say “career growth”, and if they do, what they want that to look like, or if they mean branching out of admin. There are two separate problems there, and each would likely be addressed in different ways.

            This is actually a big problem where I work, because admins can’t progress past a certain level (at least on the pay scale). The best ones tend to leave after reaching that point, which means there’s a lack of experienced, highly talented admin professionals to staff all of our offices.

            Reply
            1. Genny

              I should also mention that I work in the federal government, so the bureaucracy on paper can be very strict about job duties and pay scales (I’ve seen plenty of managers be more flexible on the job duties thing, but that only gets you so far when the pay doesn’t line up with what you’re doing).

              I appreciate that a lot of people use admin as a “foot in the door”; I did the same thing. However, a lot of people don’t want to move out of admin work, but they still want to develop knowledge, skills, and experiences within that track (and this is also where my organization starts to lose people). I think it’s worthwhile to think about how to help both types of people accomplish their career goals.

              Reply
              1. Luna

                Yeah the lack of more and higher job scales within the admin track is a problem. At OldJob there were a few lower to ~lower-mid level rungs, then a huge gap of nothing, then the highest level admin rungs (think Director/Assistant Director of Admin type roles, which were high level admin-manager positions). The problem was no admins could move all the way to the top internally because of the gap in the middle. So good admins would mostly leave eventually, and the top-tier had to always be hired externally, and were often people with more of a finance background who had no clue how to do administration.

                Reply
      2. Jennifer

        Good point. Admin is usually a dead end job, it is here anyway.

        I laugh at this whole idea because I’ve never had that “celebrated” in my LIFE. Never ever. Unless you count the donuts someone brought in this morning, but we also had someone new start here so I think it’s a coincidence. I laugh at the idea of complaining about it because hey, anything at all would be nice.

        Reply
      3. pope suburban

        Yes. This, a thousand times. What I want more than flowers or cookies- though those are nice, now that I get them- is a way up and out of this work. I have learned to get my tasks done and keep a good client-facing mask on all the time, but I am not naturally inclined to this kind of work, and I honestly find the effort it takes draining. I did not plan on staying at this level for a decade (2008 grad, so I didn’t come onto the scene at a great moment), but the bills have to get paid and I didn’t get to be choosy. Between being a perma-temp for a few years and working for a deeply dysfunctional company for too long, every effort I’ve made to break out has been stymied. I mean, I know this work needs to get done, but I know it would be better if there was someone who liked it and had more of a facility for it than I do making sure it gets done. I’d sell my soul for a chance to get up and out.

        Reply
    2. rldk

      I wish I knew. At OldJob, where every single department had an Admin, we were really treated as second-class employees. Dramatically lower pay (where the whole org was below industry average, we were barely above the part-time employees), uncontrollable work expectations that varied by manager, not to mention the petty things – we weren’t given business cards or the company-issued name tags that all our non-support colleagues were given. As I was on my way out, I learned they’re changing the position titles to “coordinator” instead of “administrative assistant” without any change to compensation or treatment. Irritating, but reinforced my decision to leave!

      Reply
      1. Chinook

        The lack of business cards for Admin Assistants in some places always blows my mind. Don’t TPTB know that we are the first point of contact for many people? That it is useful to have something other than your boss’ card to give when talking to suppliers? We may not go through them as quickly, but they definitely are needed for the likes of us.

        Reply
        1. Dancing Pangolins

          In one job, they asked us to pay 50% of the cost of business cards out of pocket. I was barely making living wage as an admistrative assistants at a well regarded higher ed institution. My responsibilities actually included event planning, marketing and communications, admissions, you name it. Oh, I never even knew there was an admin day until after I left that job…

          Reply
          1. Julia

            In my last job, I asked my boss for business cards because I met a LOT of handymen, vendors etc. and they needed my email address, which was super long – long name plus long domain name. He said, sure, you can order and pay for your own cards and we’ll allow you to use them as long as you don’t exaggerate your job title.

            It was my first office job and I was so proud to work there (the organization sounds really prestigious, but sucks when you work there), so I paid for my own cards.

            About a week later, boss hands me a bill and asks me to process the payment. It was a bill for business cards for my co-worker who did the exact same job I did.

            Reply
        2. bonkerballs

          Oh see and I have the exact opposite reaction. I’m an admin and every job I’ve ever had gave me business cards. In all my time working, I’ve given out exactly one. To my mother. My eyes roll so hard when I start a new job and they want to get me business cards.

          Reply
    3. Eye of Sauron

      “I think one of the biggest frustrations with this work is that, if you do your job well, the work that goes into it can be largely invisible to others. But if something goes wrong, whether or not it was within your control…guess who gets the blame?”
      _______________________________
      This has been the case in every position I have ever held from support to management. I think your next sentence is unique to admins (and a few other roles as well), which is why I like my company’s way of doing bonuses. Everyone gets a bonus based on their dept. so an admin in the logistics department would get a bonus the same as a manager in the department. There are different bonus structures, so that all people in bands 1-20 are eligible for X, 20-30 Y, and 30+ Z.

      Reply
  13. Lisa

    I once had a job where my manager passed off a bunch of admin duties to me that should NOT have been “my job,” and she gave me a card for Administrative Professionals Day. I could tell she was trying to do a good thing… I think… but my actual job was closer to “Teapot Innovation Researcher” than “Administrative Aide to the Director of Teapot
    Innovation.” She did the same for the Associate Director which felt extra patronizing.

    To be clear, I do not think there is anything wrong with admin jobs, and I am not balking at being “lumped in” with admin professionals. It’s just that admin work was not even remotely part of my job, and to constantly do it and then get ~recognized~ for it felt off.

    Reply
  14. km85

    I am an office manager in a company that doesn’t value and support me, and while I agree with your bottom line, I guess I’d just like to add that there are those of us who prefer patronizing acknowledgement to none at all. :(

    Reply
    1. Wannabe Disney Princess

      This is where I’m at. Would I *prefer* year round respect and better pay? Yes. Of course I would. But seeing as I’m currently in an office and industry that generally* treats the admins like peons that are there to merely get in the way of Men Doing Their Job, I’ll take the free lunch and little trinkets.

      *there are a few people who don’t, and they let me know year round that I’m appreciated – and that is AWESOME

      Reply
    2. Miss Elaine e.

      This exactly. While I truly do understand and agree with the original post, I’m afraid others will think, “huh? Okay, it’s just not done. So we won’t do anything.” And therefore nothing will change, except the hardworking Admin gets even less.

      Reply
    3. Ainomiaka

      Yeah. I don’t disagree with any of Alison’s points, but the conclusion feels like “tipping in restaurants encourages gross social dynamics, so don’t tip. I’m not an admin, so I’m not going to say no, you get less stuff for justice.

      Reply
      1. LBK

        Hmm, I don’t think it’s the same as not tipping because stiffing your waiter only negatively affects the person you’re ostensibly trying to help. The demeaning aspect here comes from someone *with the authority to make genuine improvements to your work life* only showing their “appreciation” for you once a year by buying you a plant.

        It’s more akin to the owner of the restaurant withhold everyone’s tips because they don’t believe in tipping (but also not paying them a living wage).

        Reply
    4. Former Retail Manager

      I’m not an admin, but I’d feel the same. Based on a post I read last year, I asked our admin how she felt about it. Her response was “Why would I turn down a free lunch and $150 giftcard? I knew what the job was when I took it.”

      Reply
      1. LBK

        I mean, I certainly don’t turn down the gift cards I get from other departments as thank yous. I think it’s more of the fakeness around it; maybe if the culture is shifting so that admins really get their due on a regular basis then it’s less patronizing than it used to be, but my impression is that it spurred from the idea of admins being generally underappreciated. Setting aside one day a year to appreciate them is a lousy fix to that issue.

        Reply
    5. Church Lady

      This this this!

      I wasn’t even thanked in the annual report for coordinating a whole office move – all the equipment, utilities, etc. The bruh that got a bunch of guys to move furniture got a thank you. All he did was show up. Not that the furniture didn’t need moving – but the nightmare of moving phone lines and dealing with Comcast; the copier, resetting the copier, the computer, was hell.
      and . . . nothing.

      Reply
  15. Amber Rose

    We’re having pizza for lunch today. It’s a coincedence. I think my boss had a craving. Everyone feels valued and respected and gets lunch. It’s a good thing.

    Years ago I worked at a deli and my manager got pregnant. Every day was “writing off food for lunch because you’re awesome” day haha!

    Reply
  16. Scott

    Is this a USA thing? Never heard of it here. Either way, we’re seeing less and less administrative assistants, so maybe that contributes to my not ever hearing about this special day.

    Reply
      1. Chocolate Teapot

        My professional association (previously EUMA now IMA) celebrates it in Europe. I have fond memories of an afternoon presentation at a Big Four company followed by networking champagne and canapes.

        Reply
    1. Ruth (UK)

      I have also never heard of it other than from this blog. The only other time I have come across it was a similar post by Alison in a previous year (or maybe this post in a previous posting of it). I wouldn’t have known it was today if not for ask a manager so I assumed it’s a USA thing

      Reply
      1. Media Monkey

        same. we have barely any admins left now though – i wouldn’t call our boss’s EA an admin since she handles a lot of our recruitment, desk moves etc, as well as managing his diary/ meetings/ booking his travel, so she is as much HR as admin, so we really have our reception staff (about 50/50 male and female)

        Reply
        1. Luna

          Why wouldn’t you call the EA an admin? All those duties you listed are very common for admins to do…yes, admin work often includes many various responsibilities! It’s not just scheduling meetings.

          Reply
          1. Media Monkey

            i’m not sure she would take kindly to being singled out as the only admin on the team. we show her how much we appreciate her and how great we think she is every day anyway (but also we are in the UK and this day isn’t a thing).

            Reply
    2. .

      It’s also a thing in the Benelux, and France as well I think. It’s celebrated a week earlier than in the US. It’s still called secretary day what makes it sound outdated tbh

      Reply
  17. Nanc

    When I worked in Higher Ed (at a State institution!) we were required to “celebrate” Administrative Professionals day. It was up to us how we did it, but it was required. I gave my admins (I had one full-time and one half-time) an extra paid day off and covered the front desk. They could either go on the actual day or pick another day that quarter as long as it wasn’t during the first week of term or finals week. They loved it but other departments complained since they couldn’t do the same thing, I shouldn’t be allowed to either. Welp, it was line-itemed in my budget and the budget was approved at all levels so nerts to them.

    I like to think I rewarded them all year long by being supportive and encouraging them to promote.

    One of the weird things I do not miss about no longer being in academia.

    Reply
    1. One of the Sarahs

      You’re fantastic! It’s an extra cool reward because it’s showing you don’t look down on their work, too.

      Reply
    1. anon for this

      I wish these things were organized by the company or institution; since my spouse has taken a bit of a management role among the doctors, and the doctors pay voluntarily for the Nurses’ Day lunch, spouse ends up spending about $300 out of pocket to top up the funding for a nice catered event because some of the other docs are stingy & don’t pay up. It’s fine, as spouse makes some version of a doctor’s salary, but I remember when that was close to my month’s rent…

      Reply
    2. Nobody special

      Where I’ve worked during nursing celebrations the PR department found many ways to tout the contributions of nurses… Articles, posters, even the announcements when you were on hold on the phone. Of course this was a recruiting and retention effort too, something that is not an issue for admin professionals day. And they got t shirts or tote bags advertising their profession. The place was generous back then w admind too but I remember one year the gift was umbrellas w the hospital name on it… Every time I saw one I knew the carrier was an admin. What a difference from having your WORK publically proclaimed. And the fact is, you don’t need a special degree to do it if you happen to have the skills.

      Reply
    3. Gimme a Break

      …and doctor’s day, and all the other “days” for higher -ups? I work in a medical office where, when I accepted the position, I was told I’d have a review in 3 months and be considered for a team lead role and raise at that time. Nine months later, at the end of the year, the whole staff got reviews at the same time, and no one in the company got a raise. We could do away with Admin Prof Day and they’d be thrilled. It’s not like we would be respected or treated any better throughout the year, but the tightwad doctors I work for could save even more money for themselves! (We get one strip of staples at a time, one pad of post it notes at a time and have to check out the one roll of packing tape for mailing from the supply lady. Yes, I’m interviewing elsewhere.) This is also the type of office where they send company wide emails about how we should remember the doctors on doctors day and the bosses on bosses day.

      Reply
      1. Pommette!

        I have a few friends and family members who work in doctors’ offices and doctor-run clinics, and the stories they tell are horrendous.

        Places where the doctors would get three times more vacation time than staff (who got our jurisdiction’s legal minimum, two weeks); places where people making barely above the minimum wage were expected to regularly do unpaid overtime (because their work is so important!); places where people doing front-line work were reprimanded for daring to take (unpaid) sick days; and of course, everywhere, salaries lower than what an person with similar qualifications and experience would commend in any other kind of office. Since it’s hard for someone whose experience is specific to medical offices – especially for someone who enjoys the medical and patient interactions of their work – to find comparable work in a different field, people put up with a lot.

        Of course, all of these places have events celebrating the work and/or generosity of the doctors who run them. It makes me so angry. Your practice would not run without these people’s work. You should respect and celebrate them!

        Which is to say that I hear you on the cheap doctors, and wish you luck in finding work somewhere where you are valued and supported.

        Reply
  18. Crystal

    My admin is great and knows she’s great but today she gets an extra little something something. Without her my job would be 10x harder & we work for a government agency and she already makes the highest step she can make and I can’t control things like benefits and PTO, etc. – that’s regulated. So yeah, she’s getting a gift today. Also, my boss’ boss does nothing for the admins who work for him and its definitely affected morale. I’ve even offered to order pizza or whatever and he won’t do it.

    Reply
    1. anniemal

      Im gov’t admin too and this isnt formal where I am but my boss gave me a thoughtful card with a starbucks card in it.

      No one else I support acknowledged it and that’s cool with me

      Reply
  19. Aphrodite

    “We don’t have Accountants Day, Copy Editors Day or Actuaries Day. What is it about administrative workers that requires setting aside a calendar day to recognize their work?”

    Those of us who are admins know this, as do you Alison, but the answer to your great question is: Because (1) the pay is lousy compared to the skills, knowledge and talent required and (2) because it is almost a dead end role since the skills required and learned are not considered management level ones.

    Reply
    1. Gabriela

      This is not always the case! Our executive admin easily makes 30% more than what I make and I have a specialized degree/skill set/experience and I manage a team.

      She is also routinely recognized in other ways, so I doubt she personally misses the celebration.

      Reply
      1. fposte

        Yes, in our department it’s singling out a particular set of support workers even though there are others who make similar or less money.

        If you’re at a workplace like the one above, where everybody’s track gets a day of celebration somewhere along the line, that’s one thing, but I think in a lot of offices this is basically an updated version of “ladies in the office day.”

        Reply
    2. Morning Glory

      Hard disagree as an admin – this is not a ‘something is better than nothing’ situation when it comes to under-appreciation and lack of advancement in the workplace – flowers and chocolate are worse than nothing because they are insulting.

      I refuse to attend any of the patronizing activities my office organizes. I forgot my lunch and chose to buy something at the cafe rather than attend the free lunch for admins.

      I want better pay. I want promotion opportunities. I am not going to participate in some charade where I pretend to feel appreciated one day every year by the organization that bait-and-switched me into a secretary position.

      Reply
    3. Bea

      Dead end job…that’s dark. I paved my way to operations and accounting with administrative golden bricks. But yeah…dead end.

      Reply
      1. Media Monkey

        the colleague sitting opposite me has moved from a reception role to an admin role to an entry level role that usually requires a degree (she doesn’t have one), all because we think she is great, she works really hard and is really keen to learn. and she currently earns more than the people she works under, because she started in an admin role that pays better (but with less opportunities for advancement) than an entry level role.

        Reply
  20. HRM

    Not much to add other than I completely agree. I especially feel weird about this because of the gender component, very much comes across as a very gross gendered holiday to me. I’ve never given anything to administrative staff on this day, even when I had an admin supporting me. I wasn’t her direct manager but I helped make the case for a raise for her, passed on training opportunities to her that were appropriate for her long term goals, and mentored her as she completed her bachelor’s degree and moved into her first HR role. I did treat her sometimes with coffee or lunch, but as a thank you for her work during really hard projects or busy times – not for this holiday.

    Reply
  21. Cake Over Pie

    We had a lunch and learn session for Admin Appreciation Day. Things I would have preferred other than that:

    1. Wages that are bench-marked to our duties and the local market
    2. Opportunity for advancement and true professional development

    But those things are Hard. Lunch and a speaker are easy.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer

      Yeah, getting those things is like asking for a real live pet unicorn for Christmas. Not happening. Ever.

      Reply
  22. BlueWolf

    We got a cash gift, so I won’t complain. They are also pretty generous with pay, benefits, and bonuses year-round though, so it’s not just a one-time thing.

    Reply
    1. mj

      I won’t complain either. I’m an exec assistant, and this week I’ve been to two nice luncheons (organized by supervisors), received two gift cards, one gift basket…and the week’s not over yet! ;)
      I receive a fair wage and good benefits package. My boss and other supervisors are generous with praise throughout the year, so…it’s the best of both worlds, in my opinion.
      *Even in orgs like mine, where secretaries/admin professionals are treated very fairly, I think supervisors still feel the need to do something special for admin professionals day because of the pay disparity between the two groups. Some of the supervisors make $20K more than I do, and some make up to $100K more. Also, I think supervisors view their work as more rewarding in itself, and see our work as more drudgery (it can be). To me, these are two reasons they feel the need to celebrate and appreciate this “holiday.”

      Reply
  23. Pudgy Patty

    I completely agree with this and feel very uncomfortable with this “holiday.” But, the admins in my office seem to love it, and I’ve never been in that role so I can’t actually speak from personal experience. How would I be able to bring this up in a sensitive and respectful way to both the admins and the leadership so could make some change? I don’t want to be patronizing to admins and take away something they enjoy either.

    Reply
    1. Emmie

      I have the same question. I don’t want to be patronizing, but want to acknowledge all of the hard work each of them do to keep our office running smoothly.

      Reply
      1. Morning Glory

        If you want to show them how much you appreciate them, can you make sure they get opportunities for professional development and advancement? Training in a hard skill, mentoring, the chance to attend a conference. Do you know what their professional goals are?

        Reply
        1. Temperance

          What would that look like, though? The problem that I ran into as an admin who really hated being an admin and wanted to do more intellectually challenging and important work was that no one wants a good admin to stop being an admin.

          Reply
          1. Luna

            But a good admin who does want to stop being an admin eventually will do just that- even if it means leaving the company. Bosses shouldn’t view them as just a good admin, they should view them as a good employee who they should want to keep- and if keeping them means moving them into a different role then that’s what they need to do. Better than losing them altogether.

            Reply
          2. Morning Glory

            It would look like providing professional development funds for training and conferences, like I said – that’s a concrete thing that can be done.

            It would look like asking your admins about their five year goals, and seeing if you can find opportunities to let them work on projects that would give them experience – and even more importantly, giving candid feedback on how they can improve.

            If the admins are non-exempt, it would look like making sure there is overtime funding for the extra time if they want to take on these projects, or else letting something else drop from their plate.

            But, this is all advice for people in Emmie’s position, not for the admins. We are powerless to do much of anything beyond job search. And despite Luna’s optimism. that can be pretty damn hard once you get that scarlet A on your resume.

            Reply
            1. Been There, Done That

              Following up on your last sentence, I’d like to throw out a question to managers here: If you were hiring for a non-administrative position and got a resume that demonstrated all the required skills, experience, and education BUT all the previous job titles were “administrative assistant,” “office coordinator,” etc., how would you view and rank it with someone whose resume had the same qualifications, but previous titles were more technical/professional? Very interested to know.

              Reply
    2. BRR

      Not knowing exactly how you celebrate, I imagine it would be hard to take something like this away from a group of staff. The message could easily be interpreted (or even sent if management stinks) as “We don’t want to be patronizing so we’re taking away the annual lunch which is the one day a year we recognize your hard work.”

      Reply
      1. Emmie

        I agree with everyone’s comments about professional development opportunities, conferences, and expanding their role into non-admin tasks. It is also being thoughtful about which projects are handed off to admins. What is the admin’s workload? Can it be addressed in another way? You touch on the core of my question, which is how do you pull back on a card and thank you once it is ingrained in the culture? The only way I know to pull back on that is promoting admins, and when all of your admins turn over before the holiday (which indicates a bigger problem with an organization.)

        Reply
  24. Abigael

    As someone in a support staff role, I do agree with this.

    However, to play devil’s advocate here, I can also see another perspective. For example, compare this to something like “Black History Month.” Does this month mean that black people shouldn’t have equal rights and African-American culture shouldn’t be celebrated year-round? Of course not. The point of the month is to celebrate a culture that often does not receive its fair share of acknowledgment or recognition, not to be patronizing to black people or make them feel like they only get one month while everyone else gets the rest of the year. The same argument can be applied to the “Black Lives Matter” movement, and how the “All Lives Matter” rebuttal seems to miss the point. Not trying to get political here or derail this conversation, just making a (perhaps imperfect) analogy.

    Reply
    1. Clarice Fitzpatrick

      I think part of the difference is that those kind of months tend to be educational. They are meant as opportunities to learn and spread knowledge of black people’s history in terms of historical events and figures. this can also apply to Women’s History Month, LGBT History Month, and etc.

      An administrative staff appreciation day is somewhat different in purpose. It’s more for (extra) appreciation and gratitude. It’s more akin to mother’s or father’s day I think. With those days, assuming the relationship is healthy and the child is a grown up, the child puts forth some effort throughout the year to be appreciative of their parents. Otherwise, the gesture comes off as hollow or hypocritical. The holiday is more an extra perk/gift if the support and mutual respect is already present.

      Reply
      1. Clarice Fitzpatrick

        I should add along in this analogy if the relationship is toxic/dysfunctional (vs. somewhat mixed but tolerable and okay), it’s a really crap day to have to “celebrate” and can be worse to experience compared to regular days.

        Reply
        1. Morning Glory

          Except I think it is understandable that children don’t have the emotional maturity to show their appreciation everyday!

          Plus there is no way to change the system so that parents get paid or get promoted based on their performance. There is a way to change this system but organizations aren’t doing it.

          Reply
    2. Morning Glory

      Black History Month is meant to be a catalyst for action and education.

      It’s not about giving black people a bouquet of flowers as though that’s good enough to make up for centuries of oppression – and then patting ourselves on the back for fixing racism.

      Reply
      1. Abigael

        Oh, I absolutely agree with that!

        My point was just that having a day/month set aside for a specific group of people is not *necessarily* demeaning or out of line, depending on how’s it done. I admit that the analogy I made is not 100% spot-on, and am definitely not claiming that Black History Month makes up for oppression, etc.

        Reply
        1. Triple Anon

          Right. I think the point is that the holiday itself could be a more positive thing if it was recognized differently. If the focus was on educating people about the work that admins do, honoring admins for the contributions, and so on. Instead of giving people cards and flowers. I can see that angle.

          My experience with admin work is pretty limited. I did some as a temp a long time ago. I found it challenging because the skills required were weak spots for me at the time. It can be sort of like an acting gig. You have to greet everyone in the same on-brand tone. And you have to be really consistent. And organized. And good at multi-tasking. Maybe the day should be celebrated by having other staff take turns doing admin work and letting admins shadow other professionals if they want to. That would be interesting.

          Reply
  25. Pickle

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure my admin person would prefer that everyone turned their dang reimbursements in on time this month rather than buy her flowers.

    Reply
    1. Future Homesteader

      I laughed a little too loud and too long at this. Your admin is lucky to work with you, because you definitely get it.

      Reply
  26. Who the eff is Hank?

    I’m one of four admins in my office. Today I sent an email to the other three that said “At least we appreciate each other!” as a joke. There are legitimately people in our office who appreciate and respect us year-round, including our boss, but we are still fairly low paid and there are definitely people here who think we sit around waiting for them to ask us to photocopy their reports (even though that’s not technically our jobs).

    Reply
    1. Squeeble

      I think this is the crux of it, for me. If your office celebrates the holiday but doesn’t provide good pay/benefits/other support to the admins, it makes it all the worse.

      Reply
  27. Strawmeatloaf

    In my last office they included everyone who wasn’t an attorney. Everyone above them was an attorney. But of course 100% of the support staff were also female so…

    I mean it’s just kind of how I feel about Valnetine’s day and such. Apparently we are only supposed to show our care for the person/people on one day of the year, which excuses us from doing it every other day of the year (exaggerating of course, but marketing!).

    Reply
  28. Jenn

    As a longtime admin, I 100% agree. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my two worst bosses were very into secretaries day. They were just performing what they think “good bosses” do, and there was a certain amount of gushing thanks expected from me for the flowers or chocolate or whatever. I dreaded it.

    Reply
  29. Meh

    I got a present today. I am not an admin and am not in a support role. I was not aware I was viewed as “being a part of our Administrative Support team.” Feeling very demoralized today.

    Reply
        1. Meh

          Just to note: I’m not on the administrative support team. I’m on a financial team and don’t provide support to anyone.

          Reply
          1. Emily S.

            Well, if you feel bold enough, you could certainly talk to HR about it, and explain that you’re not in an admin support role — and it must have been a mistake. Alison would say, be direct and matter-of-fact, and try to use a positive tone. Who knows, they might apologize.

            Reply
      1. Meh

        That is not what happened in this situation. Not all staff received gifts, the administrative support team did, as well as people that are not on that team.

        Reply
    1. bolistoli

      I’m so sorry. You probably can’t do this now (end of day), but you could give the gift back and say it must be a mistake bc you’re not an admin, and that someone else must be missing a gift.

      Reply
  30. TheWanderingRabbit

    I work for a non-profit health network. Although I agree with Alison on this, it’s amazing how many different days there are to celebrate different professions and how seriously they are taken by our whole organization. Volunteer Week, Social Worker Month, National Nursing Week, it goes on and on. There is a lot of hype/outside activities surrounding all of these days. I think it makes it a little less awkward that we celebrate “Secretaries Day” because it comes along with a ton of other professional days, but still! I know that no one is in this line of work for cake or cards.

    Reply
  31. No Mas Pantalones

    I’ve been saying this to everyone today as they wish me a happy whatever day. I mean, my flowers are gorgeous but unnecessary. All I need is that direct deposit to hit every payday. I don’t need some patronising “holiday.”

    In my thank you to my team for the flowers, I said, “I propose we also come up with a Happy [Your Title Here] day for each one of you. Let me know your preferred dates and I’ll get them on the calendar.”

    Reply
  32. Elizabeth West

    Let’s get rid of Boss’s Day too. Why should we be compelled to appreciate bosses who treat us like garbage?

    (Note: if you have an awesome boss, this doesn’t apply, but an awesome boss also wouldn’t care about this shit.)

    Reply
    1. Luna

      YUP. I had never heard of Bosses’ Day until I worked for my terrible boss, who loved making us celebrate her. Ugh.

      Reply
    2. Future Homesteader

      Thank you for giving me an opening to tell my favorite Boss’ Day story.

      At LastJob, I had a horrible Grandboss and an amazing actual Boss. Boss and I (who were close and united in our front against Grandboss, who was toxic) would frequently bring in candy for each other/the office, just because. On Boss’ Day I happened to have stopped and gotten chocolate, so when I came in I put it out and told them “Happy Boss’ Day!” kindly (but sarcastically). Boss understood and laughed, but Grandboss was SO TOUCHED that I would think of her. She made a big production out of it. Bleeeech.

      Reply
    3. BRR

      I’m pretty sure if your boss actually cares about boss’s day and you have to suck up to them, you probably have to suck up to them year around.

      Reply
  33. HarvestKaleSlaw

    “and even more hurt feelings when someone gets a card and didn’t realize he or she was seen as support staff. ”

    Ugh, this. There is a great story I could tell if I were less worried about revealing details, but suffice it to say that the most crushing, devastating gift I ever got was a bouquet on Secretary’s Day. I knew I was undervalued at that job, but to have it put in those terms was just brutal.

    Anyway, I kept a smile on, said thank you, went into the bathroom and stared blankly at the stall door for a while, and 7 months later had a job at (literally) 2x the salary, doing actually a bit less than what I did before. And this was back when the economy was really bad. Ha! Eat it, Dysfunctional Old Job.

    Reply
    1. Meh

      Thank you for this! So inspiring. It is exactly how I’m feeling today, but I’m going to use it to push me forward.

      Reply
    2. Emily S.

      Good for you!

      This reminded me of my very first admin job. On Admin Prof. Day (just a few months after I started), some VPs brought us (two admins) great big giant bouquets… of artificial flowers. I had to pretend to be thrilled, but I loathe fake flowers, so I eventually threw them away. Ugh.

      Reply
  34. Winifred

    I got flowers yesterday from one of the volunteers at the church where I work. Was that why? I thought it was because I’m squeezing in an enormous project for them that I had no notice about … oh well.

    Reply
  35. elwm73

    I pointed out to my plant manager today when he delivered my card and gift* that I due to my promotion I am no longer an admin so…he smiled and said because I was an admin since last Admin Day until 3 weeks ago so I deserved the thank you regardless. Okay. I’ll take that. Boss IS trying.

    *actually pretty awesome this year.

    Reply
  36. Jacks

    If we are going to away with Administrative Professionals Day, we should away with all days that recognize people for doing their job. I’m an admin, I’m compensated pretty well and feel valued. I’m also the one who always gets at least one phone call per day when I’m supposed to be on vacation or out sick. I’m the one who makes sure the conference rooms are reserved, cleaned and well stocked for all meetings , make sure time sheets get submitted on time, and the one who has to take care of the little details that most staff overlook or don’t think about. (Office manager would be a more appropriate title for what I do)

    I got a vase of silk flowers (we are not allowed to have real flowers in our workplace), a greeting card and a gift card. I think if you don’t like Administrative Professionals Day, don’t celebrate or participate in it.

    Reply
    1. Sam Yao

      It’s not that simple, though. I’m an admin, I generally like my job, but I find Administrative Professionals Day teeth-grindingly insulting. I wasn’t given the choice of not participating in it, because my bosses think they’re legitimately being nice by giving me flowers and cupcakes (neither things that they’d dream of giving to a male employee, I am fairly sure), so I am roped into participating, and feel pressured to be gracious, whether I want to or not. I did point out that “that is literally my job,” but they were so darned pleased with themselves.

      Reply
      1. .

        I agree, in my experience are the bosses that participate mostly in it for themselves and tend to treat admin staff the worst throughout the rest of the year. They’re totally oblivious and think they’re so attentive by picking up some flowers on their drive to work.

        Reply
      1. Jacks

        National Pharmacist Day, National Weatherman’s Day, National Teacher Appreciation Day, National Salesperson Day, Dentist’s Day, Registered Dietitian Day, Legal Assistants Day, Mom and Pop Business, Owners Day, National Doctor’s Day, National Librarian Day, International Juggler’s Day, National Columnists Day, School Librarian Day, Law Day, International Firefighters’ Day, National Teachers’ Day, National Weather Observers Day, Cartoonist Day, Child Care Provider Day, National Student Nurses Day, National School Nurse Day, International Nurse’s Day, National Waiters and Waitresses Day, National Tailors’ Day, Cheer Coach Day, Morticians Day, Nursing Assistant Day, Beauticians Day, Rat-Catcher’s , Take Your Webmaster to Lunch Day, National Personal Chef’s Day, FBI Day, System Administrator Appreciation Day, International Chefs Day, Love Litigating Lawyers Day, Newspaper Carrier Day, Programmers’ Day, National Custodial Workers Recognition Day, World Teachers’ Day, Physician’s Assistant Day, Pastor/Clergy Appreciation Day, Farmers Day, Emergency Nurses Day, Bosses Day, National Authors Day, National Traffic Directors Day, Housewife’s Day, International Accounting Day, Operating Room Nurse Day, National Miners Day, National Pawnbrokers Day

        Reply
  37. Kat Em

    I feel a bit like this about Teacher Appreciation Week.

    Parents recognize it and give me a $10 Starbucks gift card: so thoughtful!

    Leadership recognizes it and gives me a $10 Starbucks gift card: This doesn’t even cover the amount of unpaid work I’ve done this week, and it’s only Wednesday.

    Reply
    1. Mad Baggins

      +1
      Extra appreciation from people who treat you well every day and have no say in your salary/benefits? Wow, how thoughtful!
      Scraps from the table of your bosses who pat themselves on the back for being so generous as they continue to underpay you every day of the year? Kind of hard to feel grateful for that.

      Reply
  38. Eye of Sauron

    Can I offer that the comments here don’t help others figure out if they should do something for this day for the admins they work with or not. It really seems like one of those damned if you do and damned if you don’t situations.

    Of course I come from a place where I truly don’t know what help I should be asking for from the admins I work with… it seems that I get on the sh#t list if I ask for things and then I end up on the same list if I don’t. I’ve pretty much stopped trying and figure I’ll err on the side of doing it myself and getting in trouble.

    Reply
    1. PuppiesKittensIceCream

      I’m an admin and feel like it should either be acknowledged in a personal way with a tangible benefit like a lunch or gift card, or not at all. I’d also much prefer to just be treated with respect and valued the entire year.

      For your other point, you can always ask your manager, the admin’s manager, or just ask the admin directly what you are allowed to ask of them and what you can’t. Admins like to get involved in things and be treated with respect and like their time is valuable, just like everyone else.

      Reply
      1. Eye of Sauron

        I think I work with squirrelly admins. I have gotten push back when I’ve asked for help ordering lunch for a thing and then the next time that same person finds out I didn’t ask them for help with lunch I get attitude. I’ve stopped trying.

        But back to the question of acknowledging admins. In 2 responses I’ve gotten 2 different answers. Going up through the comments there are even more opinions. There’s no winning in this situation.

        Reply
        1. PuppiesKittensIceCream

          ahh gotcha. Yeah I appreciate it when people say, “is this something you can help me with?” and then I can give an honest answer. It shows respect for my time.

          Reply
        2. Luna

          I would also think about when/how you are submitting those requests. I used to get a ton of last minute requests that people thought were simple, such as booking a meeting room. They didn’t get why I was annoyed that they emailed me at 10pm to ask for a room for 9am the next day.

          Reply
        3. Future Homesteader

          That’s frustrating. :-( Props to you for trying at all, though!

          My opinion is still don’t celebrate it, but acknowledge admins in other ways, particularly when they help you. :-) It sounds like you’ve probably got that down.

          Reply
        4. Anonymous72

          I used to have squirrelly moments, and it was when someone (not my direct boss) asked me to do something without considering my schedule, i.e., at 8:15 a.m.: “I have a meeting today that starts at 9 a.m. Can you print menus, take orders, personally order 15 sandwiches from Place Where Customizable Options are Unlimited, pick them up, deliver them to the meeting room, and get drinks? Also, do I have a meeting room for this?” Uh…. Actually, no, I have meetings all morning, am literally on my way out the door, and honestly can’t help you with any part of this, and, by the way, I’m really, super pissed at you for even asking. I have a job. I have a schedule. I am not sitting at my desk waiting for instructions like an Administrative Robot.

          Not saying that’s what happened with you, but those are the times I shut down on my co-workers and wouldn’t make any attempt to accommodate. However, I would not get snippy at you for not asking me next time, though, but I used to work with an admin like that – damned if you asked, damned if you didn’t. People came to me instead, and that made it worse.

          Reply
      2. Future Homesteader

        +100. If you’re not sure, just ask! (And maybe sure you’re actually asking and listening.)

        The best thing you can do is treat your admin like another coworker with multiple tasks and varying priorities. Have a conversation about what they can reasonably accomplish in a given time frame, and whether there are other things on their plate that take precedence.

        And for the love of all that is good on this earth, do your darnedest to NEVER be that person who gets mad at them for not doing something that was never asked of them. We are not mind-readers. If you ask them to do a project but don’t tell them everything that needs to be done, you cannot blame them for not doing it. You, as someone who thinks about these things, will probably not be guilty of this. But so many people are.

        Also, read their emails and respond by deadlines. We will love you forever if you do that.

        Reply
        1. Eye of Sauron

          I do ask and still end up on the sh#t list! I fully admit it may be the personalities that I’m working with, I’ve heard similar things from others.

          I’m also in a bit of an odd situation. I live and work out of city A’s office which has an office manager, my team that I manage is in City’s B and C, who also have 1 or 2 admins in the building. My Boss and team are scattered across city’s B, C, and D who also have 1 or 2 admins. So the admin in city B where most of my team is located will gladly offer help and to do things for my team. With me, eh, it’s a crap shoot.

          I could tell you the long convoluted story of my efforts to get business cards, but I’ll keep it short and say I physically couldn’t order them myself and needed an admin/office manager to do it, because of the account with the printer. Everyone I asked pushed back and said because I wasn’t at their location or on their team they wouldn’t help me (see the note above about the setup). I finally had to beg one to order them for me. It was ridiculous and unnecessary. Nobody should have to grovel in order to get someone to do a task that is within their job scope.

          Reply
    2. rldk

      Like many similar situations: just ask the people you’d be celebrating what they prefer. It’s not a good appreciation day unless you actually tailor it to the person you’re trying to appreciate.

      Reply
    3. Aphrodite

      I am in academia and currently have a great boss (who apparently has no idea what day this is and thank god for that). So keeping in mind our budget cuts and and the college’s cutting back on filling empty positions it is unlikely to happen–but if it could:

      Look at my skills, abilities, talents and experience and find ways to use those as well as encourage me to strengthen them to help me move into the fast track–or at least upward, possibly into management. It is amazing, if you are a boss and in a position to do something about it, to think that your own assistant might be the next star manager and your peer. She could be. Send her to conferences, help her network with people who can also assist, give her better and higher profile responsibilities, mentor her into management. Do this year round and give her feedback.

      There is so much talent among admin assistants who may well be better in management than many others. They know so much, probably much more than you suspect about your workplace and work and goals. In other words, look to them for internal and external promotions. You may find your best yet.

      Reply
      1. Eye of Sauron

        I totally agree with everything that you said!

        But it didn’t answer the question of ‘should I celebrate it or not’ :)

        Reply
        1. Luna

          No, you shouldn’t. If you are a good boss and respect and value your admins they will know that. If you aren’t, getting them a small trinket once a year won’t change that.

          Reply
        2. Aphrodite

          It depends, I guess, on you and on the admin assistant. I would find it A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. if my boss (that is, you) took me out to a business lunch as you would a peer and instead of handing me flowers or candy told me you thought this was a particularly fine day to let me know that you had decided to mentor and promote me upward with all those suggestions, that you wanted to know if I was interested, if I had any ideas going forward, told me your ideas, and let me know, in general, that this year’s AA day was actually the day you came to realize that I had the abilities to move upward and you and I would work together to make it happen (assuming I wanted it).

          Reply
  39. PuppiesKittensIceCream

    Thank you, Alison. I’m an admin and I hate this day. Where I work it’s acknowledged by the company in the form of a generic and not personalized email company wide, as well as by leaving flowers on my desk with a generic printed note. It is totally ignored by the people and teams I support. I feel like if it can’t be done away with altogether (and just treat admins like a regular valued part of the team all year), it should either be acknowledged in a personal way, with a tangible benefit like a free lunch or gift card, or not at all. The generic crap just to make the company look good is so insincere.

    Reply
  40. The Cleaner

    I don’t like this day, and was one of the people who felt very singled out when I was an administrative assistant, as if I was being humored and cajoled into doing my job.

    However, now I am a manager and we have two administrative assistants in our department, one man and one woman. One of them loves the day, so much so that I don’t feel comfortable changing what we do (a card and a gift purchased by the company) but I definitely have it on my long-term agenda if a good opportunity presents itself. I ease my conscious about it with the knowledge that the benefits and compensation are competitive.

    Our boss, thankfully, has put the kibosh on any recognition of the day for bosses.

    Reply
  41. Oogie

    I work in an all female office. The non-supervisory staff (including me) did a pitch in and each admin got a card. I wish they did get paid better, but we have no control over that and want to recognize their hard work. I think in that context it was great, but I also agree with the points made.

    Reply
  42. Goya de la Mancha

    Personally I think we should get rid of it AND bosses day. Both are outdated and have overstayed their welcome.

    My boss didn’t say anything but was definitely a little more then perturbed that I (her Admin. Prof.) didn’t remind her that it was Admin. Prof. Day today…which I had honestly forgotten about until someone else in the company pointed it out to me!

    Reply
    1. Brue2002

      It’s funny that you mention this. I am a “Medical Laboratory Professional” and I stumbled on this website actually searching for others who are as disappointed in Lab Week as I am. I work for a large profitable organization and throughout the week we were subjected to “fun activities” such as word searches, coloring contests, costume contests, make your own keychain, etc. We didn’t get a single lunch, a $5 bonus, or even a dang cookie! I can’t make this up. My coworkers and I have BS degrees in a fairly technical field, often work off shift, on our feet, and in stressful situations. These “efforts” by our organization are a slap in the face. And for years I have been internally debating voicing my displeasure to the higher ups. I’d truly prefer nothing at all to what they provide. I am extremely passive by nature, but am thinking I’m going to have to speak my mind on this one. Can anyone offer advice?

      Reply
  43. Question

    I don’t disagree with any of this, but how to you go about stopping when your office has recognized the day for years? As you said, it’s on the calendar and since we’ve always done something I have no idea how to break the cycle.

    Reply
    1. Aphrodite

      Maybe the answer isn’t to break the cycle but to add to it. Networking opportunities. Promotion out of the admin area. Management track. Industry conferences. All of it, all year.

      Reply
    2. Triple Anon

      Changing the way it’s celebrated. That would be a good place to start. Echoing Aphrodite and some commenters above, but you could suggest that the office do something more meaningful than cards and flowers. They could educate people about the work that admins do, give admins opportunities to network or learn about roles they might want to be promoted into, stuff like that. Asking the admins what would be valuable to them might be a good place to start.

      Reply
  44. Kittymommy

    I’m of two minds on this. On one I understand the opposition and agree with it, and there is something gendered in it form a historical standpoint (and they say some places currently celebrate it). On the other hand, and this is probably because of where I work, I know of a lot of other professions that have days/weeks geared towards celebrating them, and they are, so for me that removes some of the demeaning aspect of it.

    Reply
    1. MissCarrion

      Same here – I’m in health care so there is Nurses Day, Midwives Day, Physiotherapists Day, Pharmacists Day etc. so it doesn’t feel super odd to have an Admin Day as well.

      Reply
  45. RoadsLady

    It strikes me as celebrated by people who love random holidays.

    I’d rather have random workplace lunch/goodies/puppies/etc. because yay our workplace or Happy 3rd Tuesday of August it whatever than awkward, random holidays.

    Reply
  46. CmdrShepard4ever

    I work in a legal field where I think there is a sharp contrast between attorneys and support staff. I currently work in a small office where there are 4 attorneys and 2 admin support staff and I feel valued and appreciated on a regular basis, I like the day as an extra way to show I am valued. But I imagine that if that didn’t happen admin professionals day might add insult to injury. I also worked in a bigger firm where again there was a divide between attorneys and support staff. But within the support staff there are secretaries and other support staff like accounting, HR, IT, building engineers and others. I think there was a small divide between secretaries and other support staff but I think that was more because we dealt directly with attorneys on a daily basis more than other staff. The cafeteria was a good example of the divide, most attorneys would sit together, most secretaries would sit together. Then usually people from their respective departments would sit together, accounting, HR, IT etc. I was actually part of a mixed group of secretaries, IT people, and even a few attorneys that would sit together.

    Reply
  47. SoCal Kate

    I feel so awkward today. I’m not a fan of the day because I’m an administrative assistant and am uncomfortable being singled out. We don’t seem to have a day to celebrate accountants or such, so why single the three admin assistants out?

    On top of that, my office had gone too far over the top. The card that all my coworkers wrote in was thoughtful and touching. But they also gave me a giant cupcake, gift card, and plant arrangement (expensive and also I hate taking care of plants that I didn’t choose myself). My boss is taking my team to lunch tomorrow to celebrate all I do (I don’t want to go to lunch). I support two departments, and I’m the only one in both departments recognized this way all year.

    It’s kindly meant, but I’d rather have just the card.

    Reply
  48. Renee

    I couldn’t agree more, and as someone who works in an administrative role (Legal Assistant), I generally like my job but felt no need for the flowers, cupcakes, etc. that came my way today. All the gifts definitely did feel very gendered. That being said, it’s so hard when you have an office manager who arranged it all, and spent time finding cute little puns to put on the card, and came in early to set the gifts on everyone’s desks. There’s really nothing to say but, “Thanks so much!” at that point, or you just seem ungrateful. But this is exactly why gift-giving in general can be so rife with complicated feelings, esp in the workplace!

    Reply
  49. Christmas Carol

    I don’t disagree with all of the above in any way, shape or form, but…..

    50+ years ago, long before I was born, my late mother was on the local organizing committee for the National Secretaries Association convention which was being held in our hometown. I still have the press clippings of the event she carefully saved, along with a beautiful head shot taken as part of the publicity package. Thanks for the reminder of a group I haven’t heard mentioned for years, outside of my mother’s scrapbook. I think I’ll go wipe the dust out of my eyes now.

    Reply
  50. CatCat

    I gave my assistant a small gift today with a note of appreciation. I always respect her year round. She *seemed* to like the note and small gift (a gift card to a coffee shop I know she likes). It’s also an expectations among management and my peers to acknowledge the day (like it would have drawn attention to myself not to do something). An email was sent out to everyone as a reminder that the day was coming. IDK what to do here. Feeling a little damned if I do, damned if I don’t. Not sure what to do about the other support person in our other office that I also chipped in for a small gift for because I appreciate his efforts and always thank him when we talk on the phone. Just got a nice note back from him to the team. I don’t particularly want to lead the crusade to end something if a person enjoys it. I feel like we have a pretty collegial and respectful group, overall.

    Should I ask them if they feel it is patronizing? How should I phrase this conversation?

    Reply
        1. Future Homesteader

          I second this. I think most of the people on here asking about it are probably not a part of the problem. :-) If you’re considering your admin as a person, and you respect them, then they most likely know it and won’t be offended by a thank-you.

          Reply
    1. Morning Glory

      Yes, why not ask them? So many comments from admins here are that they like their job and this day – or even if they feel unappreciated, this day is better than nothing.

      (I know I have posted about how I aggressively hate this day in the context of hating the way my org views and treats admins. I would not necessarily feel that way if my last boss had gotten me a gift, at a company that provided upward growth to admins and demonstrated overall respect).

      Reply
    2. Sam Yao

      As an admin: Yes, ask them in advance. I find it demeaning, but others here have said that they like it.

      Reply
    3. Susan

      I don’t know if this is the right analogy but to me it reads as something akin to Valentine’s Day. Some see it as a heavily marketed holiday that enforces one day of “go overboard on appreciation on this one specific day and you are okay; the rest of the year of not showing appreciation is cleared by this one gesture”.

      Reply
    4. MissCarrion

      As an admin, what you described is definitely not demeaning! You went with a personalised note and a gift card to a place you know she likes – that means you show enough interest in her as a person to know where she likes to get coffee, so it isn’t just a ‘token’ gift but rather something thought through and kind.
      You could always also ask her “hey, I know some people don’t really like Admin Professionals day gifts, I just want to check in for next year that you are okay receiving something from me? I hope you know I appreciate you all year round as well!” or something similar.

      Reply
  51. Lucille B.

    As smash-the-patriarchy as a lot of our admins are, they would be quite grumpy if we didn’t celebrate them today. I at least transitioned them from huge vases of flowers to small flowers/plants and a few decent-sized gift cards this year.

    Reply
  52. Adlib

    Agreed! Had a very lengthy chat with my SIL last night about this stuff in general.

    Also, I didn’t even know that it was today until this post! Glad nobody here is worrying about it.

    Reply
  53. Flowers r cool

    Ugh. I know firsthand how messed up Admin’s Day can be. Cheap-ass businesses, playing favorites, forgetting people until the week after; I’ve seen it all. Believe me, your florist knows how big a jerk you are. They also know if you are generous too, and might recommend your business to other customers if they get a chance (just a hint).

    We have a few companies that frequently spend a good amount on their employees, and not just for Admin’s Day. They’re always sending plants and flowers to employees who are sick, grieving, having a new baby, and various forms of congratulations (even congrats on your new job). We also have companies who are obviously only sending gifts because they feel obligated to and want to put the least amount of effort into it. That’s when we hear comments like, “do you have anything…cheaper?”, or “are you sure that they wont be able to see how much we spent? I don’t want Jane to know that we sent Mary something more expensive.”

    Ugh, just Ugh.

    Reply
  54. Pseudonomnomnom

    It is SO gendered. I was not pleased to find out that literally every woman in our office received a potted flower plant today from senior management (in honor of “Professionals Week”), while the men got nothing. Every one, including VPs.

    Reply
      1. Beth Jacobs

        Ugh, a potted flower? I don’t want that. Are you expected to keep it at work (= taking up space on your desk) or take it home (= adding a chore) ? Yick!

        Reply
  55. huh?

    There are sometimes hurt feelings when someone isn’t recognized but wanted to be, and even more hurt feelings when someone gets a card and didn’t realize he or she was seen as support staff.

    ^^This^^

    Honestly, I still have no clue what constitutes as being an admin and what doesn’t. Every time I think I know, someone proves me wrong….

    Reply
    1. Jennifer

      I’m not sure how this is hard for others, but at our office it’s literally “assistant” vs. “manager” or “analyst.” In the titles. Or just figure out who’s getting all the phone calls and abuse, that’s even easier.

      Reply
      1. LBK

        Yeah, it’s easy here because it’s…the people whose title is administrative assistant? If you don’t clearly know who they are, you probably don’t have any. They aren’t necessarily a given.

        Reply
        1. huh?

          I am not referring to the titles, I get those are a given. I’m talking about jobs that don’t fit within those standard categories.

          I had someone wish me “happy admin professionals day” at my old job and it threw me off. My official title was Teapot Rep., unofficial title was project coordinator and actual job was a mishmash of communications specialist, project manager and data analyst. Every once in a while (approx 1/ quarter) I was asked to help with lunch orders for the department because the other Teapot specialists were out in the field and it just made the most sense for me to do it, but I never actually considered myself an admin. So, maybe I was?! Apparently this colleague of mine thought so and he actually knew about the work I did.

          Reply
    2. mcm

      I can see how you’re confused. I have an Event Manager on my team who, prior to this role, had served almost exclusively in administrative assistant positions (20+ year career). She’s a great Event Manager, but still sees herself very much as an admin – as far as she’s concerned, she’s booking space, assisting with travel, getting meals ordered, and preparing/distributing written materials, and those tasks feel, to her, similar to what she did as an admin – and she always makes a point of putting Administrative Professionals Day on our centrally-located Events calendar. And, I admit, I always make a point of ignoring it.

      (The other issue I consistently run into with her is she cannot bring herself to think like the exempt employee she now is. She consistently tracks her “overtime” – despite repeatedly being told she is not eligible for overtime – and also comes to me to get permission to come in at 9:15, or leave at 4:30, despite constant reassurance that I trust her to manage her time and workload. It’s a challenge.)

      Reply
      1. Mad Baggins

        I thought the difference was that as an admin, you’re doing that for other employees in your office, and as an event manager, you’re doing that for clients. I worked in an event planning company and we had admin, they’re not the same thing. (But like you said, clearly this woman has trouble separating the roles in her head)

        Reply
        1. mcm

          Part of the issue is our “clients” are all internal – we support a 50+ person group that encompasses 5 different subgroups, and do event management for them (along with, occasionally, people from other parts of the larger organization – but never external clients).

          Anyway, I heard nothing about Administrative Professionals Day yesterday, happily….

          Reply
  56. Goya de la Mancha

    When I was in college, I worked as a teller at a world-wide bank in the “district office”. Every year we had “Teller Appreciation” week, where the other departments (mortgage, loans, private banking, etc.) would trade off days and treat us tellers. As poor college students, treats/meals were nice. We were obviously the lowest paid workers in the building – which wasn’t going to change, but it was a nice gesture from the higher staff. Granted they probably all used departmental budgets for everything, but it was generally well put together every year. What was better then 5 days of treats though? Was the genuine way most of those departments treated us on a day to day basis. They answered our questions without frustration and treated us as mostly as equals even though we were obviously not.

    All this to say, as AAM says in the article, a special day can’t replace the basic respect that anyone in any position should be afforded.

    Reply
  57. Shadow Admin

    I’m an executive admin and I make more money than one of the men I “support” (quotes because I don’t really support him as an assistant, I just handle all department contracts). But of course, he pitched in for flowers for me today. It’s absurd and I really hate it. I mean, the flowers are lovely, and I’m lucky because I am treated with respect and paid well, so I don’t NEED this kind of condescending nonsense. Frankly, it just makes me feel obligated to do something for “Boss’ Day” which REALLY chaps my ass.

    Reply
  58. mf

    I got a big bouquet of flowers today, which is… nice. But to be honest, I’d much rather get flowers as reward/recognition for my performance, or thanks for something specific I did well, than for this holiday. It would be much more meaningful, whereas this feels like something that management feels they “have” to do.

    Reply
  59. Exec Director

    I’m an executive director, and a support staff person gave me an admin’s day card last year. I don’t even think she meant it as some sort of passive-aggressive thing… I think she honestly thought the day was for people high up in “administration” and didn’t realize it was for support staff. I was so baffled that I didn’t correct her, and just hope she doesn’t repeat it this year!

    Reply
  60. Accounting Bengal

    I was the Manager of Financial Reporting at my last job. Every female in IT, HR, and Finance got flowers and a card from operations, “thanking us for making their difficult jobs easier”. None of our male peers did. That was one of the final straws that made me move on. Now I’m in a much better place and being recognized for my contributions and leadership.

    Reply
  61. Former Govt Contractor

    I’m a paralegal and my current employer does not celebrate APD which is fine by me. At old job, lawyers took legal secretaries and paralegals to lunch, and at the restaurant, the host handed each WOMAN a rose – including the female attorneys. UGH

    Reply
    1. Xarcady

      Back in the early days of celebrating this holiday, a friend of mine was an engineer. The heads of the lab decided to order flowers for the admins, who were all women. Then the head of the lab thought maybe the two women engineers would feel left out, and ordered flowers for them.

      He was stunned at the backlash. The two women engineers were very upset that they were classed with the admins.

      Reply
  62. Miss Elaine e

    I’m not an admin or a boss but I work for a church with several admins. We are all very low paid by necessity. Frankly, I am glad to have a day that reminds me to show my appreciation how I can (in my case, a card and a mini-rose plant for each, out of my pocket). I don’t have the authority to increase their pay or change their work conditions, but I can say thanks for all the times they helped me, which have been many.

    Reply
  63. sam

    Even better – my office just sent us a reminder that thanks to the new 2018 tax law changes, cash and gift cards purchased for employees are now taxable, regardless of dollar amount.

    So that $50 gift card you wanted to get your admin? You now need to submit a W-2 reporting the value of the gift, whether or not you are expecting reimbursement from your company, and your admin is going to have to pay income tax on it.

    No matter how bad we think the day is, I know a lot of admins who probably appreciated getting gift cards, etc. for this day and for other holidays, who are probably going to end up with much less useful (and quite frankly, more condescending) flowers and chocolate going forward because their bosses don’t want to deal with a crapload of tax paperwork just to be able give their admin a Christmas gift.

    Reply
    1. Eye of Sauron

      Eh.. that’s why I buy gifts for employees from places like Target and include a gift receipt.

      I figure either;
      A)They like the gift and keep it
      B)Exchange it to get something they want
      or
      C)Exchange it for something they’d already be buying (necessities) to give them the equivalent cash to spend somewhere else.

      Or if it is a gift I buy a GC with personal money so no tax issues.

      Reply
    2. Bea

      It’s actually always been dicey on gift cards. They’re just now pulled out and shined upon.

      You don’t just need to report it to the IRS via W2, you need to be paying employers taxes on the compensation.

      So instead of $50, it’s $45 to the employees and $55 business wise (estimates of course, match for appropriate taxes and payment to agencies who charge you on payroll etc)

      I had to be the jerk who killed gift cards for good here because auditors will find these things and keep digging for more discrepancies.

      Gifts have to be small enough to avoid this issue as well. A frigging headache.

      Reply
  64. Pathfinder Ryder

    I work admin in a sector that does have appreciation days for most jobs (healthcare: there’s nurses appreciation day, midwives, etc) so I do like having a day for me… when our manager remembers, haha. It was bumped to last week in my country because the 25th is a public holiday and this year nothing happened for it. Last year she popped around all the admins with chocolate. In one of my early years here there was a networking event for all admins, which I didn’t attend because I was on evening shift at the time and I was trying to get out of admin work so didn’t see a need to network with other admins.

    Reply
  65. Xarcady

    The head of my department in grad school handled this day well, I thought. His first year on the job, he got all the admins Cross pen and pencils sets. The next year, some sort of techie clock/weather station for their desks. Then business card cases.

    So not the typical flowers/candy. I remember walking into the office and having one of the admins proudly show me her pen/pencil set. They were all thrilled with a gift that read more “professional” than “here’s candy for you because I have no idea what to do on this day.”

    Reply
  66. annakarina1

    This was referenced in an episode of The King of Queens, where Carrie, who was a secretary at a law firm and didn’t go to college, felt inadequate next to her fancy lawyer colleagues at lunch, one of whom, after they realize she isn’t a lawyer like them, patronizingly says “Secretary Week is coming up!” Carrie enrolls in college afterwards, but did always have a class crisis of wanting to be an upper-class Manhattanite and not a working-class Queens schmoe.

    Reply
  67. Phoenix Programmer

    What about in industries, like healthcare, where there are special days and weeks set aside for doctors, nurses, pt, ot?

    Does itstill make sense to try and kill admin assistance day.

    Reply
  68. Delta Delta

    I work alone currently and have no administrative professionals supporting me. When I did work somewhere with admin staff, though, it always felt like an afterthought, if it was remembered at all. I’d much rather make sure I am consistently appreciative of all my colleagues rather than single various people out.

    Reply
  69. Cheesecake 2.0

    I work at a university and we turn it into a “staff appreciation” day – basically everyone who is not faculty and not a student gets to go out for lunch (paid for by the chair of the dept). Everyone from the EA, department coordinator, financial team, down to the temp research assistants. It’s fun and everyone gets a little break.

    Reply
    1. Cassie the First

      I work at a university too and this year, the chair of our dept decided to host a breakfast for the staff. But only the staff who are paid by state/university funds, and not the people who are paid on soft money like researchers, some financial people, etc.

      If it was a few years ago when my boss was the head, I would have told him it is a bad idea to exclude certain types of staff (especially since the division is not based on title or type, but by funding source). If you really do want to have some sort of appreciation event, why not open it up to all staff, and even maybe invite faculty too so they can show their appreciation for the staff? (Yes, I know, faculty get free food plenty of times, but it would be an opportunity for some low-key feel-good interaction between faculty and staff).

      Aside from a potted plant from one boss one year (totally unexpected), I have never gotten anything or any kind of recognition on Admin Pro Day. I’m used to it and I’m genuinely fine about it – I get real support from my bosses, they give me autonomy and respect, they treat me like an adult that can manage my own stuff. I don’t need parties. For the departmental staff, though, they are micromanaged up the wazoo, minor errors lead to shouting/yelling by the manager, etc. No thanks!

      Reply
  70. animaniactoo

    And then there’s the problem of the year I got a rose for Secretary’s Day. And as a Graphic Artist tried to turn it down and was basically told all the women were getting them. At that point, I was fairly new to the company and did not think it was something worth spending my cred on that day. But it annoyed me. A lot.

    Reply
    1. Bea

      Was it given to you by a man?

      “Oh and I hear all the men are getting kicked in the junk today…”

      This is why I am always finding myself in very gruff environments because no man I’ve ever worked with would dare be such a pig.

      Reply
      1. animaniactoo

        Yes, the HR person at the time was a guy who really did the Accounts Payable and handled the HR issues.

        Reply
  71. LCL

    Speaking as someone who is doing more and more admin work as our company employees fewer admins because computers: God I miss the days when we had more admin staff! They were worth their weight in gold. since I am my own admin now, I think I’ll mix myself a cocktail when I get home.

    Reply
  72. Super B

    I’m a career admin and I disagree. There are 8 admin assistants and 2 exec assistants in my company and we had a nice lunch catered, and received gift cards and flowers. One of the execs gave me and the other EA a bottle of wine as well. For the record, some of us make way more $ than other ‘non-admins’ so I don’t see this as a way for them to compensate us for being under-payed or what-not. I just find it… nice and sweet. BUT – I’m in peace with being an admin, love my job, and I think that’s part of it. If you are in it with hopes to climb the ladder, or embarassed about being a ‘secretary’, I can see how being recognized on ‘admin’s day’ would bother you. Your problem, not mine – don’t take this day away from me.

    Reply
    1. MissCarrion

      Yay! Someone else who actually loves being an admin/secretary! I took this job right after finishing my degree with plans of bigger and better things, but actually? I adore this work – other than thinking about expanding into more ‘complicated’ admin work, I don’t think I’ll ever leave. As a medical secretary right now, I’m putting my English degree to good use with the dictation typing (and the vast other amounts of word processing), I am helping people without needing to be clinically involved, and while the pay etc is average because I’m in the public system, I am compensated well enough for the moment.

      Reply
      1. Super B

        Hospital Administration is a great field that not many people dream to get into, but once you have that in your resume you can easily get another admin job anywhere, if you ever decide to leave the medical world. If you decide to stay there is room for career advancement also, so I heard. You have nothing to lose!
        I think what non-admin people fail to realize is that some of us actually enjoy admin work and chose it as a career; it requires an specific set of skills and emotional intelligence that not everyone possesses, and because most people want to be the talent and not the support staff, there are plenty of admin jobs out there and some pay really well (EAs with 5+ years of experience can make 6 digits where I live). My whole point here is that people who find it demeaning to be recognized on admin’s day probably feel that way because they are torn to be an admin themselves, especially the ones with college degrees like you and I … and they should probably try to make peace with themselves, life being short and all

        Reply
    2. patty mayonnaise

      I’m so glad to hear that you love your job, and I think that may be the key to eliminating any negativity around Administrative Professionals’ Day. At my organization, admins generally stay at that level (or advance to admin I, II, III, IV, etc. with similar responsibilities). I get the sense that they enjoy the recognition and perks that come with the holiday. (We also have an annual COLA and merit raise system, and great benefits for everyone, so that helps mitigate animosity, too.) But I’ve worked at other places where the position is treated as an entry level role, and if you are achieving any kind of success, you’ll be moved out of it quickly. In those cases, being celebrated on Administrative Professionals’ Day was sort of a like a backhanded compliment.

      Reply
  73. Bea

    We celebrate staff regularly, company picnics, snacks, beverage fridge and generous bonuses. When my boss goes for business trip, he brings us local chocolates, etc. We do not draw lines between departments or put that demon on the backs of each manager.

    You build a company culture of feeling appreciated and well compensated. I bring in treats every couple of months. I ran into some cute fun candies awhile back and grabbed everyone a special one.

    This works for me because the only day I celebrate is Rusev Day.

    Reply
  74. SamBam

    I think this day and celebrating it are largely dependent on your company’s culture. Where I work, I’m an administrative person/support staff. Whenever anyone needs anything, they come to us. Even if we’re not 100% on it. We’re the go to people in our office. So it’s nice (for us) to be recognized on a day. Other members in our organnization are recognized on a regular basis for various things. So for our company and our culture, celebrating administrative professionals day makes sense because it’s like they’re saying “Hey, we know how much crap we throw at you on a daily basis and even though we say thank you regularly, here’s an extra token of appreciation.” So to me, celebrating the day makes sense in some workplaces but not in others.

    Reply
  75. Yorkshire Rose

    When I was a paralegal, I once received a $200 personal check from a partner attorney on admin prof’s day. The firm was a startup. I would have been insulted had I not needed the $200 at that time. Those bonuses went away the next year, but I agree that all professionals should be appreciated and recognized generally, not just on one day each year.

    Reply
  76. SL #2

    My title isn’t really in the admin department anymore, but I’m a one-woman team and I report directly to the ED; think of me as both EA and operations manager. My team is incredible and I know they appreciate the work I put in to keep our office and our collective sanity intact, but having a little bit of recognition today does make me feel better. But that’s also our company culture, and I wouldn’t take away the celebration from any admin who actually enjoys it just to make yourself feel better. I’d be really annoyed if my boss suddenly decided that she didn’t want to be patronizing, despite me never feeling demeaned, and decided against the flowers and donuts.

    Reply
  77. ladycrim

    We’re treated as lower and more expendable than the rest of the staff on a daily basis anyway. I *like* having a day where they actually thank us and acknowledge the hard work we do. (The candy and catered luncheon are nice, too.)

    Reply
  78. Quickbeam

    I hate it too, along with Bosses Day. I feel roped into these Hallmark card holidays; they are manipulative. For my 100 person company we have *one* actual admin person. We need more, not a card and candy holiday.

    When I refused to pony up for Bosses Day, my unit stopped. It’s just embarrassing, she makes twice what I do.

    Reply
  79. MissCarrion

    I am very, VERY lucky where I work that all our non-admin staff (I work in a hospital) treat us with respect all year round – when I took on the job of secretary for a physician who’s secretary had left for greener pastures (more pay, and better parking) one of the first things he asked me was what my regular coffee order was. Another doc frequently arrives at my desk with coffee and a muffin with no explanation other than he was at the cafe and thought I might want something.
    The one time Admin day comes up is often our department boss will come and talk to us or email us on the day, and say how much we are appreciated, and that he understands that there are a lot of things that could improve our work lives that cannot be done (the perils of public health systems) but that we are appreciated, and that he is always open to hearing ways that could improve things for us to see if he could implement them. He washed our windows once. Not even kidding.

    Reply
  80. Miaw

    …getting angry for being considered an admin pretty much implying ‘admin’ job is lower than the rest isn’t it?

    Reply
    1. Mad Baggins

      No, it’s because admin =/= woman. I shouldn’t get a gift for Mother’s Day or Nurse’s Day or Queen’s Day because though a woman I am none of those things, and anyone who tries to “celebrate” me for something I’m not clearly 1) doesn’t know me or appreciate me 2) sees me as a woman first and person second.

      Reply
      1. Luna

        If you are being lumped in just because you are the only other woman then yeah, I’d be angry at that. But in many cases companies just lump in all/most staff, regardless of gender. In those situations the people who get angry at being lumped in with the admins are kind of jerks. My department does an event for all staff and I don’t mind being included in that (though I dislike the idea of the day in general).

        Reply
    2. Anonymous72

      I always found it belittling. When I was an admin, I was comfortable enough in my own skin to not need my co-workers (emphasis on co-workers) to pat me on the back, buy me flowers, and make a special day to celebrate my work (most of which was well above what an admin typically does and is why I’m not an admin anymore, but that’s another story). When they did that, I felt singled out and removed from the team as some sort of “other,” and I felt as though, once a year, they all came together to inadvertently imply that my role was lower than the rest. Admin Day or whatever it’s called was my silver bullet, and I hated it.

      Reply
  81. Triple Anon

    It would be ideal if a company would ask their administrative staff how they feel about it. A) Do you like for it to be celebrated? B) If so, how? It seems pretty simple. Then they could do something that works for everyone.

    Reply
    1. patty mayonnaise

      At my first job, our HR director e-mailed everyone who had the title of administrative assistant and asked us to let her know either way if we would like to be recognized on Administrative Professionals’ Day. Maybe I was just cranky (because I had been promised a title change six months before and had been putting in a ton of work for a salary of barely over $25k, recently made exempt from overtime), but I was offended that she asked. It demonstrated that she had very little idea of what I actually did, so any recognition from her would have been pretty hollow. Plus, I don’t think it’s especially polite to ask someone to say whether they think they qualify for a gift or not. If someone wants to celebrate me, I think they should figure out how to do it (especially because celebrating others is something that often falls to administrative staff, so asking them to brainstorm their own thank-you gifts/celebration/etc. is just placing more work on them). I know this probably seems like an extreme reaction to your well-intentioned suggestion, but I had such a negative experience that I felt it was worth sharing.

      Reply
      1. Triple Anon

        I think that’s a valuable thing to share. I hadn’t thought of that perspective on it. I guess I was envisioning a more tactful, respectful way of asking. And picturing a company where it’s really clear who is an admin and who isn’t. But you’re right – there are a lot of ways in which it could go wrong.

        Reply
    2. Nessun

      I WAS asked last year, and I appreciated being asked because the people who arrange the gifts for our admin staff (16 people) weren’t sure where I fell or if I wanted to be recognized with that group (I technically report to a different office than my physical location, unlike the other 15). I was happy to say I didn’t want to be included going forward, and equally happy that my group chose to have a team building lunch yesterday instead of sending me off to have lunch with a group of admin I barely deal with.

      Assuming I wasn’t part of the “main” admin team would have been rude, since I do mentor some of them (though not many senior staff are aware of that). And assuming I WAS part of the main team would have led to me being invited to a lunch I didn’t want to go to, a gift I can’t use (poorly chosen gift cards), and pulled me away from my team. So yes – I think if you’re not sure, it’s always best to ask, tactfully and politely.

      Reply
  82. Piano Girl

    I worked as a keypunch operator many, many years ago for an accounting firm. During that time, I picked up some bookkeeping skills and had been assigned a few monthly companies on my own. My last year there, I was asked to answer the phones on Secretary’s Day so the accountants could take the secretaries out to lunch. One of the accountants realized what had happened and brought me flowers. Later that year, I was given a tiny raise because I was part of the secretarial staff.
    I left shortly afterwards.

    Reply
  83. martini

    I talked to the AA that sits near me today, asked her if the annual gift was anything good since I saw people putting stuff on her desk, she said “chocolates are nice. But I bet you enjoy your bonus more”. AAs aren’t eligible for bonuses where I work, but everyone else is (the bonuses for junior analysts are small, but are there). I had to agree with her.

    Reply
  84. Catherine

    With all due respect, secretaries ARE different from the rest of the employees in the organization. Unlike Accountants, IT Analysts etc. these professionals only carry out work which relates to their own field of specialty.

    A Secretary or an Administration professional does a bit of everything. Take for example a Legal Secretary which is my profession. We carry out Billing for clients. Now that’s a job scope which technically should fall under Finance. Even if the firm has a Front Office staff we cover colleagues from that Department when they go to lunch. When some lawyers have an IT issue some of us carry out simple troubleshooting. There are many side tasks that we do. So you see our position is broad and unique in a certain way :)

    Reply
    1. Bea

      You’re used to these big ol companies with so many people they stay in their spots. I’m the entire accounting department, the only thing I don’t do is tax returns because I’m not a CPA. I also do all human resources and am tasked with research and troubleshooting when necessary. My extended background includes business operations as well, which I dive into when management is uncertain of things. So, yeah, we don’t all just stay in our box and delegate to others when it’s outside our specialty.

      I’m an expert in accounting but I’m sure not a one trick pony.

      Reply
  85. Been There, Done That

    Having heard one of my managers refer to her reports in terms of “the admin [collective noun for about 4 people]” and “us,” I couldn’t agree more. Especially when so many DON’T view the administrative role as professional and make no distinction among entry-level clerks, administrative and executive assistants, and office managers.

    Reply
  86. senatormeathooks

    For what it’s worth in my office, anyone who was a support team member (for instance, the admin obviously but anyone with “support” in their title) received a gift card and lunch at a nice restaurant. While all of the support team did happen to be women (come to think of it the entire team was), I think someone went out of their way to make it not only as non-gendered but as personalized as possible (gift cards to stores everyone knew we as individuals enjoyed shopping at) and while I agree flowers smacks of a gendered skew, our administrative assistant really really loved flowers and made it abundantly clear she would like some violet orchids, please and thank you. We were a more close-knit group than most offices though so your mileage may vary on that one.

    Reply
  87. Anxa

    “Plus, some admins are paid more than the people plying them with cards and lunches on Secretaries Day, so they understandably find it awkward to be treated by people who make half as much as they do.”

    Thank you!

    There were 2 admins in one of my office. One of which was very helpful, and another who was so bitter about everything. Constantly complained about being on the bottom of the hierarchy and dealing with big egos. But she spent hours a day surfing the internet and made over twice what I made, but always made snide comments about how lucky I was to get to go home early. I went home early because my hours are capped and I’m part-time. Even made me feel greedy for taking 2 cookies in the come-and-get-it-area of the break room because I should save some for the underappreciated staff. The other admin was so obviously tired of the constant complaining.

    Reply
  88. Erin

    I agree. I am an Admin AND a member of IAAP, and I have come to hate this holiday, not for the demeaning part (never thought of that), but because it causes more bad feelings than anything. Not everyone gets recognized, and managers forget, and then they feel bad because they forgot, some managers are just jerks–I could go on. But yes, please end this.

    Reply
  89. No Thanks

    In my office we got cards & gift cards.
    When I say WE – I mean HR Generalist, Staff Accountant, Payroll Coordinator, Compliance Coordinator, etc.

    We are all constantly referred to as “Secretaries”
    But I work in the Medical field and the culture is so very OLD Fashioned and will always be this way.

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  90. Nessun

    I am an EA and a member of IAAP, and I support the idea of leaving Admin Day behind IF there is appropriate appreciation for the admin staff year round. Unfortunately, that is not the case as I’ve seen it (16 years with a Big4 firm). All of the admin in my office are treated to the same thing: gift cards and lunch, so there is equality in that respect, but for some of them this is the only recognition they receive for a job well done. This is unacceptable! I’m luckily in a position where the group I support is appreciative year round, so I don’t care about Admin Day much at all, but for the others – some of them look forward to the gift all year, because it’s a tiny shred of validation (yes, given based on what’s essentially lip service to a hallmark holiday now) and it’s all they get.

    Until senior staff can look past the “just an admin” stereotype and show they value admin all year round (and I don’t know how that can happen, apart from sitting each and every one of them down and explaining the value their admins represent), Admin Day is at least a moment for those who are more self-absorbed to look up for a minute and realize they quite often can’t make it through the day without the admins who support them.

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  91. Kate

    I’m not an ‘admin assistant’ anymore, I’m an HR coordinator but I’m a non-exempt employee. I have never received anything on admin professionals day but yesterday I was brought an absolutely beautiful flower arrangement and it made my day. My company uses any occasion to celebrate it’s employees and it felt really good to be recognized. My team tells me everyday that they appreciate me, I am treated very well by the company on a daily basis and I’m very happy here. My company sees it as an excuse to extra thank their employees and I feel lucky to be employed by them.

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  92. Pigbitinmad

    And the same thing goes for Christmas….or any other little “gold star” recognition awards (like “Employee of the month:) that I find so patronizing.
    Even if you spent five bucks on the award, I would rather have the cash.

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  93. Honey Bea

    As an Administrative Assistant I think it’s a YMMV on this day. I could take or leave this day, but I appreciate the recognition when the effort is genuine. I agree with the points Alison makes when the workplace is pretty crappy or overall not great, and when its pretty obvious it’s just to recognize the person for that day only. But, if your workplace is pretty good and you feel like you’re being treated well, and if you’re lucky to paid well too, then it’s just a nice boost that they do recognize what you do.
    Although my current workplace tries to recognize as many professions as possible, since we’re a small organization. Last month we celebrated Health Care HR week, which no one even thought was a thing, but the 2 people in our HR department really appreciated being recognized.

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  94. not a cop just concerned

    Alison, I know it wasn’t meant like this, but “ghettoizing” is a pejorative and racially charged word that many have campaigned to stop the use of. If you find yourself needing to reuse this content again (hopefully not! there definitely shouldn’t be a day!) then please consider taking out the word. Thank you

    Reply
  95. Michaela Westen

    I’m fortunate to have a job where my colleagues and I are appreciated and paid fairly. So I don’t have strong feelings about Admin Day. Love the pretty flowers!
    If I worked in a place where I felt “these people I support are getting rich while I barely make subsistence and am struggling”, then Admin Day would seem patronizing and offensive.

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  96. biff welly

    late the the party but just also wanted to add that boss’s day needs to go too. It’s all so antiquated and unnecessary.

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  97. Brenda Maday

    I agree 100% with the points in this article! This “Hallmark” holiday causes more stress and hurt feelings than it is worth. Some managers remember and some don’t. One admin in the office may get flowers and the other nothing. Admins have a valued role in the organization but many other professional roles are also under a lot of stress and make it look easy. We should stop singling out one role to celebrate and appreciate all employees.

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  98. Gatomon

    I totally missed this day, and I’m okay with that! I’m glad my company doesn’t make a big production out of it, because I’m against it for all the reasons listed. It felt demeaning and insulting when I was an admin assistant. (My value is equal to a pack of knock-off gel pens? Or worse yet, money solicited from people I know make only $2/hour more than I do instead of a decent pay raise!) Unfortunately my counterpart seemed to enjoy it, so I didn’t feel like I could fight back against it. But I seriously considered taking the day off/calling out sick on that day every year.

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  99. Anonymous72

    Just chiming in late to say that when I was an admin, I dreaded this day every year and felt humiliated every single year. My field is one where the non-staff vs. staff distinction is rigid and well-established – then add “admin” on top of being staff, and it was just absolutely denigrating and demoralizing to have the non-staff I supported, who always told me “we’re all equal here! We don’t see you differently!”, figuratively pat me on the head and say “good girl” for a day, while shoving flowers and cupcakes my way.

    On the flipside, the other admin I worked with would get up in arms and throw a tantrum if there wasn’t recognition of her that day. So… Know your people?

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  100. Formerly Arlington

    There are a lot of days this time of year—mothers, fathers, teachers. I’m sure Admins Day can be polarizing and demeaning, but I don’t think it has to be, and I don’t think it’s wrong to show genuine appreciation for people who work hard to help a team function, whether that’s scheduling meetings that require coordinating with three locations and four other executive assistants or wrangling in expense reports or helping organize a training session. I show appreciation to my kids’ teachers and never thought this was a lack of respect and this holiday feels similar to me. I’m against being demeaning, disrespectful or underpaying people in this position, of course! But I do like having the opportunity to say thank you in a more formal way than an emailed “thanks!”

    Reply
  101. Rachel W.

    Thank you for this! I used to work as an editorial assist. at a newspaper and one day an editor stopped by my desk and gave me a gift card. I was confused and smiled politely, it wasn’t my birthday or anything, and she told me Happy Secretary’s Day!

    I was bewildered! I didn’t think I was a secretary – I thought I was part of the editorial team – and I was very bruised by the interaction. I wondered, were my contributions to the team really seen as “oh she answers phone and emails”? (Which I did, but I ALSO did page layout, drafted & edited copy, pulled wire stories, arranged photos – actual editorial duties!) It was a very alienating experience.

    Reply

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