it’s time to end Secretaries Day

Let’s end Secretaries Day.

It’s coming up on April 22, and this should be the last year it’s observed.

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, Webmaster Day or Pharmacists 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.

{ 185 comments… read them below }

  1. mina*

    I agree. Try being a woman secretary or admin. assistant in a Southern Baptist church, see how much respect you get. I’ve been here 12 years; acknowledgement of the day has been hit or miss. I would much rather get year round respect and decent treatment. I’m pretty much invisible – until I get blamed for something.

    1. Jem*

      ::I’m pretty much invisible – until I get blamed for something.::

      Admin here, too. Boy, do I know that feeling.

    2. Jennifer*

      Decent treatment? That will never happen by virtue of this being a “woman’s” job.

    3. Misty*

      I’m also a secretary in a Southern Baptist church. I smiled when I read your comment because I know that feeling all too well.
      Today though, I was thoroughly encouraged by other staff members who took it upon themselves to thank me and because of that, several congregants were reminded.
      Of course we would like for there not to be a need for a special day to recognize our work, but in a job that is so often invisible and thankless, I appreciate the fact that at least for today it wasn’t. ☺️ Blessings to you in your work!

  2. Lily in NYC*

    Thank you Alison! It’s like you read my mind (and my multiple tantrums about it in the comments section in earlier posts). You really covered all of the angles. I took a preemptive strike this year because I have a new boss and told her the best thing she could do for me is to completely ignore it.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Well that just made my day. You get me, you really get me (read in Sally Field’s voice).

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      And sysadmin day.

      That’s the day of year when we recognize our IT workers with cards, free lunches, cheap tech gadgets, and a case of energy drinks.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        That’s not recognition, that’s paying tribute in order to keep your access and your infrastructure intact! ;)

          1. Macedon*

            I hope there’s a T-shirt with this, and I also hope it’s the mandatory IT uniform somewhere out there.

            1. Adam*

              Didn’t see that one, but I do have a friend who works in IT with a shirt that displays the following:

              “I work in IT. No, I will not fix your computer for you.”

              1. Ops Analyst*

                We just moved and when we met our landlord for the first time he found out my husband was in tech support and that I work for a computer software company he immediately launched into a 30 minute support session about his computer. His reasoning was that since we were getting such a good rate on our apartment we can “trade” services with him. Meanwhile, that’s not even the kind of work we do AND we are renting at the rate he listed; we weren’t given a deal.

                1. Jamie*

                  I had a doctor who, on my first visit, asked me to try to hook up a new printer because IT had put “security” on it so he couldn’t install the drivers. Yeah, I chose not to get involved with why he didn’t have admin rights and selfishly discussed my ear infection which was kind of why I was there.

                  Has to suck since it was your landlord, though – that can be awkward at best if they resent you for not helping.

                2. Windchime*

                  People who aren’t in IT seem to think that those of us who are in IT are interchangeable. When I got my first smartphone, the salesman was annoyed that I didn’t know how to use it instantly; after all, I’m a programmer! Uh, yeah. Totally different. I also don’t know how to fix your printer or tear apart your laptop; because I’m not that kind of an IT person.

                3. Adam*

                  @Windchime Next time just ask if he’d like his family doctor to perform brain surgery on him. That out to get the point across. :)

      2. GiantPanda*

        We IT workers celebrate ourselves – this is the day of the extremely extended lunch break and the annual team BBQ. Everybody else ignores it and notices only when we put up the new large team photo.

      3. Jamie*

        No – according to the official website of Systemadminday . com it’s to be celebrated like this:

        “Let’s face it, System Administrators get no respect 364 days a year. This is the day that all fellow System Administrators across the globe, will be showered with expensive sports cars and large piles of cash in appreciation of their diligent work.”

        And frankly I have no problem with either of those options. My moral stance has always been that people can patronize me as much as they like as long as it’s done with serious amounts of money and/or the sports car of my choice.

        In all seriousness I get homemade cookies every year on Sys Admin day from the sweetest person in the office – but that’s just an in-joke – I’ve never worked anywhere where any of these kind of things (admin professionals, bosses day (extra ick factor there), sys admin day, etc were acknowledged.

        And as someone who has been on both sides of this fence – administrative (not system) roles and is now IT there can be lack of respect for both roles – but it’s a vastly different tone. The former the disrespect was patronizing and belittling – there was an undercurrent of assumed and unfounded intellectual superiority and treating you like “the help” rather than a co-worker of which there are many levels. In the latter…the disrespect doesn’t have any teeth because it’s usually misdirected irritation from whatever technical issue that’s frustrating them and thinking you’re f’ing with them when you address things based on overall priority and not their personal convenience. Or others resenting the size of your budget, or your ability to come and go as you please*, or getting the best gear, or the incorrect assumption that we find them fascinating and so spend time pouring through their emails and web history**.

        It’s different than being dismissed intellectually or professionally – there is no sting to it. Even in the IT Crowd when the horrible woman rested a coffee cup on Roy’s back as he was fixing her computer…rude to be sure but at the end of the day the geek stereotypes are typically easier to live with because they generally come with grudging acknowledgement that we do what most of them don’t even understand.

        Everyone thinks the admin pro jobs are easy, unless they’ve worked at one. I never underestimate the value of good admin staff because much of that is harder than it looks. I’ll take a server bottleneck over busy phones any time.

        1. Jamie*

          Meant to add:
          *fwiw staggering in at 10:00 am because you worked until midnight the previous night on an emergency isn’t exactly coming and going as one pleases.

          **We don’t care about any part of your life unless it has the potential to compromise network security or require us to spend hours pulling reports and presenting them in your disciplinary meetings. Outside of that we honestly couldn’t care less.

      4. Cath in Canada*

        We have a monthly after-work board games group at work, organised by one of our Systems team. At the last one we played a game called Sheriff of Nottingham that involves bribes as part of the game play. I was trying to bargain for a new monitor if I didn’t inspect the organiser’s cards, but apparently all bribes have to stay inside the game.

      5. Connie-Lynne*

        Ugh, as a unix engineer by trade — who self-taught it while working as a Secretary/Admin — don’t get me started on Sysadmin day. Just do not even start with me.

    2. hildi*

      I agree. I’m totally petty on this subject, but what about Individual Contributor day? These types of days just create a lot of unnecessary obligation and awkwardness. They suck and I would love to see this practice end.

    3. Meh*

      Oh, don’t EVEN get me started on that one. Last year I got told to give money so my lazy, inactive director could be given a FitBit. Nope, still sits on her but and never seen her wear it.

    4. Adam*

      I’m all for bosses being recognized because good ones deserve it and being the boss is not easy, but definitely no phony days since they create an awkward measure of expectation, especially where money is concerned.

      1. Adam*

        In addition: I don’t think I’ve ever met a boss who openly liked “Boss’ Day” either.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            And now I feel compelled to clarify that was a joke and that, as a lawyer, I’ve worked with many lovely lawyers over the year. But the profession does attract its share of narcissists.

    5. anonymous daisy*

      And the weeks too. We just finished National Library Week – so we have to let the patrons know about it and then celebrate it . . . by doing exactly what we always do. Puzzling to say the least. The one bright spot is that a lot of authors posted nice things about libraries in social media so we could just share and retweet what they said rather than make new content on our own. Author Julia Quinn had some nice things on her facebook that I saw being shared.

      1. Jessa*

        I think maybe in the case of libraries, it’s not the celebrating the people, but the publicity that maybe gets a few people off their duffs and into the building. Which considering that they’re closing libraries like crazy, might be a very good thing.

        1. Miss Betty*

          I think you’re right. Our public library did things for the patrons, not the other way around. It’s a celebration of libraries, not librarians. Come to think of it, do librarians get celebrated? ;-)

      2. UncoolCat (formerly Manda)*

        The one bright spot is that a lot of authors posted nice things about libraries in social media so we could just share and retweet what they said rather than make new content on our own.

        Modern day plagiarism. ;)

        1. erd*

          ?? Shares are attributed, not plagiarism. I assume you meant this tongue in cheek, just confused as to why!

          1. UncoolCat (formerly Manda)*

            Yeah, it was kind of a joke about librarians, of all people, not wanting to create original work. Sorry, I guess it wasn’t that funny.

  3. some1*

    It’s also tough because in the places that have celebrated it where I have worked, we admins knew people resent being voluntold to contribute. It’s just awkward.

      1. Cat*

        Yeah, I’m totally on board with this in theory, but in practice, I’m not yet willing to be the one person in my office who defects.

        1. Adam*

          The way news is these days there is no way you could propose to officially eliminate Professional Admin Day (or bosses day) without it becoming some overblown soundbite that would trend on Facebook for 30 hours.

  4. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    On that note, I saw a flower shop billboard today reading “PROFESSIONAL ADMINISTRATIVE WEEK.” Nothing else. I can only assume they got the day garbled, but it brings to mind a whole host of strange ideas.

  5. Adam*

    To me this “holiday” has always felt like a less effective version of mother’s/father’s day in the sense that any sort of thanks expressed usually pales in comparison to the effort and time necessary to do the job. In the case of the work parents do the small thoughtful thanks received from their little ones might be more like icing on the cake, assuming they feel that knowing they’re raising happy healthy children falls into the “a job well done is its own reward” category.

    But with Admin Professionals…well, I’m sure the AAM community can produce plenty of examples of how said holiday falls flat on its proverbial face.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Admit it, we all said to our parents at one point during mother or father’s day: How come there’s no Kids Day? And I bet we all got the same answer: Every Day is Kids Day!

      1. Clever Name*

        Yes! My sister and I demanded this when we were kids, and now my 8 year old does. For the record, I like spending Mother’s Day by myself. No brunches with long waiting times. Just blissful silence. ;)

        1. Judy*

          A (male) co-worker once said that on Father’s Day, he got to take the kids out for a movie and pizza to spend time with them and on Mother’s Day, he got to take the kids out for a movie and pizza so his wife could have some alone time. ;)

        2. PlainJane*

          Me too – and that always seems to offend people. Yes, I want to be celebrated as a mother by being spared the responsibilities of one – you know, for just this one day. Is that really so awful?

            1. Kelly O*

              As far as I’m concerned you can. That’s what I ask for on my birthday every year since my daughter was born – give me a few hours all by myself.

      2. Miss Betty*

        It’s June 7 this year in the USA and has been around since the mid-19th century. I don’t remember ever celebrating it! There are official Children’s Days around the world.

        1. Jamie*

          I love my kids, but I’m not going to start baking for that one. :)

          Like Lily, I got “everyday is kid’s day” as a kid and as a parent I can confirm that it’s totally true!

          1. Adam*

            I’d put it under the same heading of complaining about “their music”. We got it when we were kids, so no reason they should get off easy.

      3. AnonyMiss*

        There IS Children’s Day, actually! At least where I’m originally from (Hungary).

        For us, Mother’s Day is the first Sunday of May, and Children’s Day is the last Sunday of May. What we don’t get is Father’s Day. Why? Because payday is Father’s Day, duh. (Yup, we manage to be sexist against both men and women in different ways.)

  6. Nonprofit Corporate Lawyer*

    Oh how I appreciate this post. I will caveat that of course, I’m very grateful for all the administrative help I receive in my firm and we truly could not function without all our staff. However, the administrative assistant directly assigned to me has made it clear (for years) that she dislikes female attorneys by doing work for us last, and poorly, if at all. I am bitter every year that I’m expected to take her out for lunch and provide a holiday gift to show my thankfulness and respect for all her “help” when she clearly does not respect me or the other women she works for.

    1. Dan*

      Why the hell is your admin still on the payroll? Just out of curiosity, are you *sure* it’s just the female attorneys that she screws over?

      1. kozinskey*

        I second both of these questions. And is it that she resents female attorneys specifically or women in general?

    2. Ella*

      This is VERY common in the legal world. The secretaries remain on the payroll because the male attorneys are happy with them, because their work gets done.

      1. Jean*

        I can’t even….! This is so sad in so, so many ways: that the secretaries resent the women attorneys; that they don’t resent the male attorneys; that somehow the male attorneys have more power than the female attorneys, because why else are the women-attorney-resenting secretaries retained… Oy. Just Oy.

        1. Elle*

          I don’t buy this at all. I am an “admin” – or rather “legal secretary” – I prefer assistant actually.
          And I believe, if you are kind and respectful – an assistant will go above and beyond. At least, that’s how I am. Personally, I only work for men – and the 2 partners I assist and give %120 of myself to and do a stellar job do NOT appreciate ANYTHING. Gender doesn’t mean a thing to me…respect goes a long way. Yes, we are “Secretaries” – but we are still professional and yes, some of us have formal educations as well. Sometimes, you have to kill someone with kindness.

      2. Nonprofit Corporate Lawyer*

        Yes, sadly, it is just the female attorneys. We suspect it applies only to younger female attorneys (she’s in her mid-fifties and I’m late thirties), but there are only a handful of female attorneys older than her so it’s hard to know. She happily assists the younger male attorneys (two who started after me are assigned to her and have no complaints) and consistently does work for them before me despite my seniority or requested timelines. Ella hit it right on the nose, it’s extremely common in the legal industry and she’s still on payroll because one of the partners she works for (male) loves her and she does great work for him (the issue is not lack of ability). I’ve also wondered if she has dirt on someone in the firm!

        1. Nonprofit Corporate Lawyer*

          And Jean — I agree, it’s incredibly sad! You’d hope for a rah, rah, female power, let’s help out the female attorneys in a male-dominated profession, but my experience has been the exact opposite. The men assuredly have more power than the women (though we do have a significant amount of female partners, which is nice): two male attorneys who started within the last two years are treated as golden boys around the office. Despite no prior work experience, these two men have somehow escaped the lower-level drudgery work young associates are typically tasked with (that I and my female counterparts had to do for our first few years) because the managing partner (male, surprise surprise) considers it beneath them. The old boy’s club is alive and well in the legal world.

  7. A Minion*

    Ah, there is definitely a gender component to it. This post takes me way back. I worked for a smallish company in one of my very first professional-type jobs. On Administrative Professionals Day, all the women would arrive to work to find a lovely single red rose (in a vase, of course, tied with a pretty pink or red ribbon) on her desk. And, I do mean ALL the women. From the Controller all the way to the actual Admin Assistant, regardless of what the woman’s actual role was. At the time, it never really crossed my mind that that might be inappropriate (plus, I confess, I was thrilled to receive the rose – it really was very lovely) , but looking back I’m just like, wow. LOL
    The roses were purchased by the Sales Manager – he kind of fancied himself a ladies man and maybe he thought he was just being gentlemanly. Who knows.

    1. Bekx*

      A salesman gets boxes of chocolate covered strawberries for all the women at work on Valentine’s day. We each get one strawberry and it’s the good kind (local, homemade chocolate and amazing strawberries). Call it inappropriate but I think it’s delicious!

      1. Jessa*

        I used to bring in those artisinal chocolate roses and give them to EVERYBODY on Valentines’s day. That chocolate was bloody amazing, made by a local place and the guys were so chuffed to ALSO get one. I thought that was reasonable (everybody, man, woman, single, partnered, whatever,) got one. So nobody felt left out.

        1. Jamie*

          The boss does that here at Christmas for everyone – it’s awesome. And now I want a chocolate covered strawberry but all I have is gum.

          My life is sad.

          1. Prismatic Professional*

            :-( I’m so sorry Jamie! There really needs to be Wonka vision so delicious treats could be sent via the internet to deprived individuals.

          2. Kelly O*

            Well, dangit Jamie, now I want a chocolate-covered strawberry.

            (Good to “see” you in comments. My daughter has a burgeoning Hello Kitty addiction, so you’ve been in the back of my mind a lot lately!)

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      At LastJob, an older single man would buy several dozen carnations for his own birthday, and take them around and give one to each woman in the building. I know that would offend some people, but I would rather enjoy the free flower than fight that fight with someone I liked.

    3. Chorizo*

      At OldJob, mothers got a rose to celebrate Mothers Day. I was the only non-mother female in my department, so no rose for me. I cried on the inside.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Our church often hands out flowers on Mother’s Day. I too have no kids, but they buy enough that every adult woman gets a flower, as well as all the younger girls, with enough left over for any little boy that asks for one, and they probably offer one to single dads too. No-one is forced to take a flower. It seems a very inclusive way to handle a gendered holiday.

        1. bearing*

          That is kind. You know, there are many women who are raising no living children but who identify themselves as mothers for reasons they might not wish to share. It’s good to offer them to everyone, no questions asked.

      2. HM in Atlanta*

        Days after learning I wouldn’t ever be able to have children, my then-company decided to do this and assigned the logistics to me. (note – my boss knew what was going on) I’m sorry to all the mothers in the office that year who got the flowers that the local grocery store was throwing out at the end of the day – browning, limp, and missing chunks of petals, but I’m not sorry I gave out horrible flowers.

        1. Jamie*

          I am so sorry – that’s the most insensitive task to assign given that your boss knew your personal situation.

          Fwiw I think the flowers for mother’s day at work is asinine. One time some guy took it upon himself to do this for all the mother’s in the office, give a single flower, and when he handed me mine I asked what it was for. More suspiciously than I intended, but I didn’t know he’d done this to the others and I was the last one with the last flower so I had no idea he was on a quest.

          He said it was for mother’s day, I replied that it was a surprise because I’m not his mom, and thanked him. Still felt weird. Don’t know if he still does it, but hasn’t given me one since.

        2. Adonday Veeah*

          This is TERRIBLE! I’m so very sorry this happened to you! Do you still work for that insensitive creep?

      3. TheLazyB*

        That is horrible. I have a son but would be really uncomfortable with this, because I remember the few years before he wasborn :-/

    4. Minding your biscuits...*

      In OldJob, there was an older gentleman who would bring candy for every woman in our office on Valentine’s Day. He tended to get there before anyone else arrived for the day and each woman had a bunch of candy on her desk when she got there. I’m never sure why he did it, but I found it incredibly thoughtful. All of the other women in our office felt the same way and thought it was a really nice gesture. I’ve never stopped to think about the gender aspects of it though.

      There are a lot of offices where this type of thing just wouldn’t fly but at OldJob, it was the type of environment that was pretty close knit, as several associates had (have) worked there for 10,15, 20, 25, 30 years.

    5. manybellsdown*

      I was a PA, and my boss would give me flowers and champagne on my birthday and AP Day. BUT, I was his sole employee and I only reported to him, so it didn’t seem terribly cheesy and forced. And he wasn’t asking anyone else to contribute for a gift.

    6. JB*

      This happened at OldJob where I was the Controller. The Managing Partner was VERY old-school. Fun times.

    7. MashaKasha*

      Hear, hear! At one of my jobs, also a smallish company, I shared an office with a woman who served as a liaison between us, a third-party software company whose product we used, and our end users (car rental dealerships) that were actual end users of this product. She’d troubleshoot, test new versions, oversee deployment, take and resolve or reroute support calls from the end users. Don’t remember her job title, but it was definitely not admin assistant. She got flowers and cookies on this day for absolutely no apparent reason. She was in her mid-20s and seemed happy to receive the stuff. She and I weren’t even on good terms, and I still cringe each time I think about it. Whose bright idea was it to get her a gift on that day? And why? her job responsibilities were certainly not ones of an admin assistant. Was it just because she was a woman and the youngest in our office? How awkward and embarrassing!

    8. little Cindy Lou who*

      This totally reminds me of an OldJob: I am female. I work in IT-hybrid roles. But to the new desktop engineer, I being young and female, must be “somebody’s admin, right?”

      I was literally at a loss for words. Upon returning to my desk, I told my (male) boss about the exchange. His response was to double over laughing and ask where my fishnets and short skirt were.

      I believe that captures well the stereotypes that must die.

  8. ANON*

    Our manager thinks it’s a great day for her to take us all to lunch to show how much we’re appreciated. It’s hollow. We don’t get raises, evaluations, COLA, and we lost paid holidays and we have fewer sick days. Our paychecks go down almost every year because insurance goes up. So no, this stupid lunch I’m being forced to enjoy on Wednesday does NOTHING for morale. It just makes me mad I have to give up my 30 minutes of unpaid free time to participate.

    1. Jeanne*

      I think this how many feel. Why is lunch or flowers the reward? Maybe a raise would be good.

      1. Jennifer*

        Yeah, but nobody gets raises any more. Any appreciation anyone can give is of the cheap and token variety.
        Hell, I’d love to get taken out for the lunch–we have supposedly all supposed to go out for lunch since NOVEMBER and we STILL can’t do it “because oh noes, we’re short staffed and someone has to answer the phones.”

        Seriously, I’ve never gotten shit for this supposed holiday. I don’t care if it’s demeaning (the entire job is demeaning), but ANYTHING, even token candy I don’t eat, would be nice at this point.

      2. Elle*

        Yes, a raise – or rather adjustment for cost of living actually would help matters. That’s how you show your staff you recognize and value them. But if management doesn’t give a rat’s ass, they won’t care. Believe me, I at the receiving end of working at a place that doesn’t value me…so I am looking to leave – go somewhere else. Where my 120% effort, and efficient and work ethic will be appreciated. And for those who say – NOBODY gets raises–that nonsense. I know for a fact that people do – perhaps it’s not 6-10% – but they do get something – it may be 2%-4-5% – but it’s better than nothing. Imagine being so diligent, and conscientious and getting ZIP, NADA?! Who wants to work at place like that?

  9. Thomas W*

    I especially agree with the point about the celebration of this holiday being quite gendered — no one gives flowers to male employees.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      I am totally going to buy flowers for our male church secretary. He does get recognition for being pretty awesome, he gets pay raises and bonuses when we can afford it. I think he needs flowers too. (He likes plants, so it will probably be a flowering plant.)

  10. Dan*

    Thank you for this. As a borderline Gen X/Millennial, I never understood this holiday. There’s lots of people in lots of service/support jobs everywhere that work hard and don’t have a special “day” set aside for them.

  11. Karyn*

    On one hand, my office gives me a nice Target gift card every year, which I like because groceries (or shoes or bags or clothes, since I always seem to get lost in that department…) but on the other, I can see where you’re coming from with this article. I think I’m just spoiled because my office also treats its admins/secretaries/assistants with class and dignity the rest of the year too, with a generous benefits package and raises every year. I really can’t complain, but I know why others might.

  12. Amber Rose*

    I’m glad this doesn’t really exist here. Ugh, flowers? No way. How patronizing! “We like you, so instead of recognition year round of your professional value, we’re going to treat you like a cranky girlfriend who needs to be pacified with irrelevant crap.”

    I like admin work. I excel at it. I’m proud of what I do. Flowers for it would be so demeaning.

    1. Jamie*

      ITA. I adore delivered flowers – make me feel like Eva Gabor in the credits for Green Acres where she’s all glamorous and flinging open the window but I would not want them from my employer to as a work thank you.

      My birthday, Valentine’s Day, and our anniversary fall within a short period of time and my husband knows I will be happiest if my office looks as if it was inhabited by a multiple pageant winner for those 2-3 weeks – but I tend to have a different relationship with my employer than the person I chose to marry. It would be rude to tell my husband I find cash only expressions of sentiment to be appropriate – but I have no problem with my employer knowing that.

      1. Jean*

        Welcome back, Jamie!

        >’I tend to have a different relationship with my employer than the person I chose to marry.”
        One more example of AAM commentary that would make a wonderful T-shirt.

  13. Courtney*

    Along with regular raises and recognition for going above and beyond (promotions and raises to reflect excellent work) I think it’s a nice idea to have the occasional staff appreciation lunch or department appreciation luncheon. Or even provide the occasional bagels and fruit tray in a common area for staff to enjoy.

    My aunt’s company rotates departments monthly where they have lunch for the department. It’s typically sandwiches and salads, pasta and salads, or pizza. They have about 10 departments total with about 200 employees (unsure if my totals are accurate).

  14. Part Admin*

    PREACH. Thankfully this day is not celebrated at my office, but whenever we have an offsite meeting or other large event that I’ve organized (which is part of my job description), the boss always stops at some point towards the end to thank me for everything and the group applauds, etc. It drives me crazy because it’s not like we stop and applaud others in the department when they do their jobs. I just sit there and try to take it graciously. I’ve considered saying something my boss about it, but it only happens a few times a year and I don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill.

  15. Mockingjay*

    I’d like to extend the ban to most forced recognitions at work. The annual luncheon in which the top managers, mostly from the corporate office out of state, congratulate each other on their promotions while we clap politely (and we had to make up the time for the looong lunch); team building/mandatory company picnics (in my student working days, I got yelled at for leaving one picnic early – I was taking an evening college class – jeez); and birthdays. Why must coworkers be voluntold to wish someone happy birthday and to shove cupcakes at them?

    I did work for one company that had solved the birthday problem. Once a month, a sheet cake would be delivered to the lobby. No singing, no special call-outs, just wander by and grab a piece of cake.

    1. Kai*

      I’m totally with you. I’m sure there are some workplaces that love this kind of thing, but anytime we have a recognition lunch for any reason, it deflates quickly into really boring, really reaching small talk (so…anyone got any travel planned for their vacations? …crickets…). You can tell no one wants to be there.

    2. Jessa*

      One thing for sure, if you’re going to do this at a company, and let’s say everyone gets an hour lunch, if this thing runs three hours, you have EVERYONE put the one hour on their time as unpaid, and you bloody pay them for the other two. For crying out loud you don’t make people sit through this for free, or have to find a way to make up the hours.

    3. Oh Anon*

      We went out to breakfast for everyone’s birthday – usually around the time. Everyone would pay for their own meal, except the birthday person, usually someone making more than that person would pay for them (manager for lead, designer for admin, etc). Most of us actually enjoyed it, we’d meet in the morning, eat & BS and head to work. It was counted as working hours.

    4. Michelle*

      Hallelujah! I ask to include wedding/bridal and baby showers in the ban as well.

      I was invited to 2 showers in the same week for a girl that I barely know (she works in another department). One was a “money tree” shower and one was a lingerie shower. I still have the invites in my “I can’t believe they sent this out” folder. We’re not friends, I barely know you, I’m not invited to your wedding- WHY would I want to give you money or fancy panties to wear to for your new husband??

      1. Pickwick the Dodo*

        Ugh. Seriously. I think money trees and lingerie showers are tacky, tacky, tacky.

        But I DEFINITELY do not want my COWORKERS giving me LINGERIE. So inappropriate!

  16. ThursdaysGeek*

    There may not be a Webmaster Day, but there is a SysAdmin Day. I think it’s only promoted by geeks, so most regular people haven’t heard of it.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      And, I should have read the comments first. I guess there are a lot of IT geeks that read this site.

  17. abby*

    I didn’t even read the article yet, or any of the comments, but I agree with your statement that it is time to end this silly day. Everyone should be treated with respect and valued for their contributions.

    As kind of a silly story, my very first office job was part-time and over 25 years ago. I wasn’t even aware of what was then called “secretaries day”. One of the outside salesmen gave gifts to all the women in the office, because we were all secretaries, of course, even the controller. Sigh. I’ve hated this day since then, even though that was my first and last gift on that day.

  18. CoffeeBeanCounter*

    Oh yes, Administrative Professionals Day. At my one job we had Administrative Assistants that were all women. I did not think of my position was an Administrative Professional. I was very surprised when I got the invite to the a lunch celebrating/thanking “us”. But it turned out that all the women were invited regardless of position. Now my office supervisor, who hardly interacts with us, gives us flowers. Honestly, I’d take a “good job” once a year over the flowers. I wish this holiday would be canceled!

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      “But it turned out that all the women were invited regardless of position.”

      Gah! No!

    2. Kelly O*

      It seems like as good a time as any to say that I don’t like getting flowers.

      I have weird allergies, and while from time to time my husband will send me something at work, he knows what bothers me, and chooses my favorites anyway. Someone at my office may not have a clue that certain things send me running for Benadryl, and it’s kind of awkward to say “these are lovely, but I am going to move them over here so I can breathe.”

  19. JB (not in Houston)*

    I may be wrong about this, but my understanding was that this day was originally started to remind employers to show their appreciation by doing things like making sure secretaries had training opportunities and other career-advancing considerations. That doesn’t change the fact that this is something that shouldn’t require a special day, but it makes it marginally better than a day for giving flowers or candy to someone you take for granted the rest of the year (not that you should take admins for granted, but clearly many people do).

    1. Miss Betty*

      You’re correct. It was started by the IAAP (then called the National Secretaries Association). I guess it’s cheaper and easier for a company to give their admins lunch and a flower once a year that to treat them as professionals the rest of the year.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        I think you’re right about that. And I’m impressed with whatever work place you were at that treated your admins as professionals worthy of training!

    2. Kelly O*


      One of the interesting things is IAAP began this recognition program, and one of the things they tend to advocate for, as do most professional organizations, is making the day about professional development. Rather than giving your admin flowers or a mug or whatever, provide the time it takes to take a professional development course. It should be about recognizing the changing roles of administrative support staff, and giving them the same opportunities for continuing education and other opportunities that (should be) given to the rest of the team.

      I do agree that this should be something good managers/directors/executives do throughout the year, so the day would be completely unnecessary. But I have to admit, I’ve worked for some organizations in which this was the only time administrative support staff got so much as a thank you. Because the profession tends to be a “pink ghetto” for lack of a better phrase, and because so many people still see a secretary bringing coffee and making sure the candy dish is filled, there is still a struggle to be recognized as a “real professional” especially with senior executives in some industries and organizations who may be quite old-school in their practices.

      It would be nice if we could shift the conversation – make sure it’s clear every day that the people who answer the phones, stock office supplies, and organize the meetings, among other administrative tasks, are part of a team of professionals working toward a common goal. Do the same for all your staff and we have no need for days to recognize any individual set of employees. We’re all respected, treated well, and recognized for our contributions on a regular basis.

      And while I’m dreaming, we’ll make everyone have a comfortable livable wage, and bread is carb-free.

  20. Sadsack*

    Our department gives our two admins visa gift cards. The rest of us each contribute a few dollars. The admins seem to like it. When I was an admin, I didn’t mind it, but I was also younger and didn’t realize that I probably should be getting more development/better pay/other benefits year round instead of a gift and a card once per year. I don’t mind contributing to the gift cards, but I would if I knew that our admins despise this practice. I wish I knew a tactful way to ask, but I have a feeling our VP would not want to change things.

  21. Retail Lifer*

    We don’t do bosses day or anything else here, but we do admin day. Of course I’d rather see admins appreciated year-round and paid well, but at companies like mine that will never, ever happen. Management here (and I’m sure elsewhere) pawns off way too much on the admins because they don’t understand their job and I swear they think they just type stuff and answer the phone all day. If the best they’re going to get there is a free lunch once a year, I don’t want that taken away from them. I have a higher title and higher pay than our admin staff but I can’t do what they do in any sort of effective or efficient manner.

  22. Sabrina*

    Can we lump Customer Service Week too? Here’s some candy and crossword puzzles so say thanks for treating you like crap the other 51 weeks of the year.

  23. Anonymouse*

    Our boss is taking the department out for lunch. Even though half the employees here don’t get along and the bosses can go all day without speaking to some of the supervisees, they’re are “looking forward to it.” Honestly I’m dreading it. Can’t tell if management is ignorant or apathetic because they act like taking everyone out to eat or throwing a party once in a while will solve our problems, which, in a way just makes everything worse. In my heart, it will be an Earth Day lunch. ;) Hope everyone has a wonderful Wednesday!

  24. Alissa C*

    I agree totally w/ the reasons to ditch the “holiday” permanently. And yet I’m torn.

    I have a consulting business where I do a lot of admin work for various clients. (I do everything from non-profit consulting, to bookkeeping/tax prep, to HR, to large scale event management, to basic admin duties. But admin work probably takes up the bulk of my time.)

    Most of my clients are vocally appreciative of the work I do, and send me “token” gifts as projects are wrapped up. Amazon/Starbucks gift cards, and the like. (The feedback is more appreciated, and more important of a component than a $15 Starbucks card, but I’ll never turn down a Starbucks card.) They recognize me on my birthday, and include me in any (real) holiday gift giving in office (so when their employees get a gift, so do I). If they offer a perk to their employees, they offer it to me as well. They treat me like an employee, even though I’m a contractor who shows up on an as needed basis.

    And yet I’ve had (and have) clients who I do a lot of work for (as in they account for most of my billables), and have high demands for me. I handle all their in-office needs, and administer their employee perks, including birthday recognitions (cards, treats and gift cards of decent value), company outings, etc. I manage everything from the kitchen treats to the employee health benefits to the bonuses. But I rarely receive a thanks, or recognition/feedback, no reviews on Linkedin for me or my company. No acknowledgement of my birthday, I don’t get to enjoy any of the perks or programs I set up & run for their employees. I’m an outsider who’s made to feel like an outsider. The only time there’s feedback is if there’s something broken I need to fix. I’m not included in potentially relevant discussions, so I basically only get the negative side of business goings-on, and rarely see the positive side(s).

    I’ll tell you…..a gift on Admin Professional’s Day, would actually go a long way towards making me feel like any of what I do is even remotely appreciated. Maybe the moral of my story is that I should pick better clients, but you get work where you can, right?

    So yeah….the so-called holiday should really go away. But as long as it remains printed on calendars, I wouldn’t mind a thank you card, a LinkedIn referral, a bouquet of flowers and/or a gift card, so I know I’m not just spitting in the wind every day.

    1. Jamie*

      I’m not sure the moral is to pick better clients – I think your more inclusive clients are the outliers as I’ve never seen that kind of thing done with consultants.

      I have a consultant who is amazing and I don’t know what I would do without him. He knows this and I do thank him (and your clients not saying thank you is rude) and I show it by justifying his (totally fair and valid) fees when asked, making sure he’s paid promptly, being flexible when it comes to scheduling, and I’d go to the mat* to keep him if anyone ever suggested replacing him.

      We’ve worked together for years and I couldn’t tell you when his birthday is, nor has it ever occurred to me until just now. Vendors are typically the ones who send holiday gifts so I’ve never given him anything. If he were here for the party he’d be welcome to food but I know the last thing he’d want to do with his time would be sit through our raffle.

      I’ve never seen contractors treated like regular employees – and there are pros and cons to that. Personally I would hate to have to market myself and I need the security of a regular employer otherwise my work life balance goes underwater and my bitchiness through the roof…but I envy the independence and being the hired gun to get stuff done without having to sit through unproductive meetings, emails about what gross thing was found in the fridge, etc.

      I just hope you aren’t hurt that those companies don’t do those things, because I am sure it’s not personal…it probably never occurred to them.

      1. Dan*

        Or maybe it did occur to them, and they skip you because giving you the touchy feely stuff would be treating you like an employee, and oh no, we can’t have that, because you could sue or report us to the DOL or whatever.

        I had a misclassified contractor gig once, and I hated it. They treated me as an employee, and I was a contractor in name only (provided my equipment, gave me work space, dictated the hours I worked). But nope, no company holiday parties.

        It really sucks to work as part of the team, but not BE part of the team. No more contracting for me.

  25. DrPepper Addict*

    Great article. And I learned a new word, “ghettoizing.” I’m going to try to work that into a sentence today to try ad impress my boss & co-workers.

  26. NurseB*

    During National Nurses’ Week we just work extra shifts to celebrate. What, that’s not normal in other professions?? ;-)

    1. Mimco*

      National Nurses Week, National Nursing Home Week, National Housekeepers Week, National Health Care Food Service Workers Week, National Social Workers Week, National Health Care Administrators Week, National Therapy Week. Dump them all! On the other end of people feeling belittled. Personally, I find it really annoying that when the effort is made to recognize people for a day or a week and all they do is complain. Our organization really spends a lot of money (obviously healthcare) to celebrate the “weeks” and it is ALL week. Usually food brought in one day, out to lunch one day, gift cards or gifts for everyone, drawings for limited gifts like an extra day off, special snack items or flowers on other days. Mostly all we hear are complaints. “Why didn’t we have XXX instead.” “Why did we go out on my day off?’ (You could still come). “I don’t eat that. I’m on a diet. I don’t like flowers. Last year we…….” “What am I supposed to do with (fill in blank of gift).” “Why was the gift card only for $$?” I say donate the money to some charity that would actually appreciate it.

  27. Anx*

    I think this is also very awkward in departments where the administrative assistants make much more money than most of the department, but not as much as the higher level admins.

    I’ve had people making 6 figures expect all of their student workers to contribute something as an undergrad, and I can’t imagine having to chip in for something on a graduate student budget.

    Fortunately, I quickly restructured that Admin Day from college kids buying a present to working on ways improve the credibility of student evaluations for our admin assistant in case she ever wanted to transfer.

    1. Sadsack*

      It has just occurred to me that i have no idea of my admins make more than me. Both are career admins, like 30 years with my department. I am willing to bet – and I hope for their sakes – that they are making more than me!

      1. Michelle*

        I’m an admin and I do definitely do not make as much as our directors/managers and we have 17 of those! And all of them of exempt employees. They also get what we have termed “adjusted schedule time” because Big Boss does not like the term comp time. If they work 2 hours over 40, they will take 2 hours off in the following week(s). I guess they/the company does not understand what “exempt” means.

        So while Admin’s day can be sexiest and I would much rather get to attend a local training* or get a raise every year, sometimes an Applebee’s $10 lunch special is all you get.

        I’m a bit upset today. I asked to attend a training at a local college and was told the fee ($95) was not in the budget, uet of the managers and her husband just returned from a 3 day conference in Hartford, CT. Her husband also works for the company and although the conference had nothing to do with his particular field, the paid for his airfare and for a rental car so he could “move about the city”. All conference events were held in the hotel they were staying in. Toxic environment? Not yet. Just really polluted right now.

        1. Jamie*

          I actually love the adjusted schedule time idea in theory. It would depend on the culture because I wouldn’t I’m not sure an environment where people were there was a running T account of every minute would work for me, but it’s kind of refreshing in light of how many companies see the word exempt as their ‘buy 40 hours get 20 free’ coupon.

          It sucks that your training was declined. Personally I’ve never worked with anyone who seeks out their own (legit) training opportunities that wasn’t pretty awesome and it’s definitely something that should be encouraged so unless there are other reasons like they would really have to do it for multiple people if they did it for you and that was out of budget – or whatever- then it seems like they are being really short sighted as encouraging that kind of work enthusiasm for under a hundy is a bargain.

          I would just caution you to try not to compare your deal with others since the resentment will eat you alive. I have totally been there myself. Some people have some cushy unearned perks – not going to lie – but some people bring value to the company in ways not visible to everyone which makes keeping them happy with this kind of thing worth it in the long run. Just keep in mind that unless you’re someone’s boss or work so super closely with them that you truly know every part of their job there are things you don’t see. In the past I’ve worked with people in receptionist type positions who resented that anyone was allowed to work from home, because they couldn’t. And resented that most others could be a little more flexible with their hours – not seeing the other side of that. That working from home can be a perk but it almost always comes with the downside of people without boundaries thinking you are always available. Having wider parameters of start/end times is great – but those jobs rarely come with the ability to leave at a set time every day.

          Not saying at all you have those complaints – just that it’s easy for all of us to get myopic and see things from our own position and we never have all the data on circumstances of others and what kind of poison comes with their cookies.

  28. kristinyc*

    When I was an entry-level marketing coordinator (which, at the org, was a leve/pay grade above admin), they gave me a rose, gift card, and nice card signed by the team and senior management on Administrative Professionals day (which was the same gift all of the admins received). My boss at least acknowledged that I wasn’t technically an admin, but since I also did the admin work for our department (on top of copyediting/vendor relationships/a million other things), they wanted to recognize and thank me. If my boss hadn’t said that to me, I would have been a little offended that people considered me an “admin,” but I tried to remind myself that they were really trying to come from a nice place. And since my pay was still not that great at all, the gift card was nice.

    1. NotAdmin*

      I’m in this position now! My title is event coordinator. It’s my first job out of college, and my organization (a non-profit) only has 3 employees, so some of my job is administrative work. It sounds childish, but I was a bit disappointed that I got an invitation to a “Admin Professionals Appreciation Day” event hosted by one of our vendors. They know my title and what I do, so I thought, “Gee, do people only see me as an admin or assistant to my boss?” I do so much more than that, and I take my job seriously and want to make it a career. I don’t mind doing admin work as part of my job because I’m the youngest and the newest, but I purposefully didn’t take an admin position upon graduating because I didn’t want to start a career in admin work. I’m sure people mean well so I feel bad complaining about it, but I think it’s all the more reason to get rid of “holidays” like this one.

      1. Jamie*

        I don’t mind doing admin work as part of my job because I’m the youngest and the newest

        If you want to get wholly away from admin work I’d suggest not going into manufacturing. The kind of admin support I hear about here is unheard of in my corner of the world. Not that we can’t ask for help in a crunch, but typically everyone from the owners of the company, C-level, and everyone else are expected to do most basic stuff for themselves. Serious shaming and peer pressure would come into play fast if anyone thought they were too above the expectations to replace the copy paper when you use the last, do your own typing/spreadsheets, make your own copies, and pitch in and help with the phones when the receptionist is out, etc. And even if you’re the Queen of England or Taylor Swift either rinse and put your own dishes in the dishwasher or bring your own maid.

        I agree with your point and I get it – I just hate that so many people undervalue admin work to the point where people (usually women) have to distance themselves from the association or it could have real repercussions to their careers.

        I’ve specifically taken other women aside as they come in new to engineering or production and told them not to volunteer in meetings to send the summaries, type up the flow charts, etc. All of those things have value and need to be done – but when you’re the only woman on the team you need to establish boundaries until you have established your credibility.

        When I was new a female CEO took me aside on my way into a major meeting and forbade me to help clear the plates at the end. At the end of the meeting she cleared the plates left behind (although most of the men did their own there is always the communal platters, etc.) I asked her about it and she said something to the effect that they were already afraid of her so she could do what she liked – but until I had established my professional reputation it would send the wrong message.

        Apparently I’m scary too, now, since I’m allowed to bring in muffins and everything.

  29. Jill*

    And then there’s bosses like mine who don’t ever want anyone to ever feel left out. So on Secretary’s day the half of the office that does anything remotely clerical gets recognized. And on bosses day, anyone who’s an analyst or above in title gets recognized. It always felt weird getting free lunch and a balloon on bosses day when I did not supervise staff, had no influence over performance reviews and raises, and had no authority to make any decision other than what color post-it paper I chose for my desk. And on the flip side, our hardworking Secretary had to share the limelight with clericals that didn’t even know where the file cabinet was, let alone anything else the Secretary actually did all day.

    But God forbid, anyone felt left out of being recognized.

  30. Student*

    Anyone got a good “script” for asking our admin whether she wants this day acknowledged or ignored?

    I personally hate hallmark holidays like this one, but I don’t want her to feel snubbed or unappreciated if she is expecting acknowledgement, either.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d ignore it unless you’re in an office where it’s expected.

      “What’s your take on Admin Professionals Day? I know some people like it and others don’t. I want to make sure I know where you stand — and also that you feel appreciated year-round.”

  31. Ruth (UK)*

    I have to say I have honestly never heard of this day before. I wikipedia’d it (wiki knows all). Wiki reckons it’s a thing in the following countries: USA, Australia, France, India, NZ, South Africa, Hong Kong.

    I guess since I’m not in any of those places.

    Also, it probably falls a bit close to St George’s day (The National Day for England. St George being the patron saint of England) which is April 23rd.

  32. Beaker*

    I’d like to see it put to an end. We have a support staff (I’m one of them) for our sales team and, each year, our sales team pitches in a couple bucks each (some more than others and some not at all, I’m sure) to get each one of the support staff balloons. The supervisors get the balloons and put them and a small recognition poster at each desk. There’s always been a sort of disconnect between the two groups and they tend to blame each other when things go wrong. I don’t think a balloon one day a year is going to help. Unfortunately, there’s way too many people and I’m sure someone would be upset if they didn’t get one. Can’t please everyone, ya know?

  33. HR Pro*

    Thank you so much for this article, Alison! And especially thank you for mentioning the gendered component. It has always felt like a gendered holiday to me (and/or a condescending holiday), but some of the stories that other commenters are posting are definitely confirming that. Horrible!

  34. AtrociousPink*

    Thanks, Allison, for adding yet another voice of reason to the growing chorus against this nonsense. I thought about printing your article and leaving it in the office kitchen alongside the gut-busting breakfast we’ll be served in the morning. But it’s a small office, and I’m afraid I might already be known as The Curmudgeonly One. My anonymity wouldn’t last long. Oh, and Admin Profs Day is a WEEK where I work. A week of cheap, cheesy gifts, unhealthy “treats,” and cutesy condescension. Oh, the humanity!

  35. Chris*


    You’re so far out of touch with reality. My secretary is not patronized, demeaned, made to feel less, subject to sexism, paid poorly, or any other dramatized stereotype that you are perpetuating. She and I have developed a strong relationship to the point where she can think ahead of me and for that she is recognized often. The intent of secretary’s day is to recognize this vital relationship that takes years of fast-pace and long hours to build. In a busy world we say “thanks”, “good job”, “way to go”, etc but every now and then, we need to take a little more time to impress upon the individual that they are truly valued for what they do for us, not in the form of money, flowers, cards, etc, but good honest heartfelt words; and so what if it’s over lunch. Be human. Celebrate it instead of trying to take a political statement opt-out.

    P.S. I think you’re stretching when you assume that there is an appreciable amount of staff that may make less than the secretary and that’s causes awkward tension…not sure where you’ve worked but that’s certainly not the case where I am.

    1. Saurs*

      Re the comparatively decent pay of an admin: you’re still (pointedly and, yes, politically) calling her a secretary, so I think it’s safe to say you’re decades behind the rest of us.

  36. EA*

    I am Executive Assistant, I get good bonuses and recognized through the year. One day of the year, I will get a card from the executive group, thanking me and mentioning projects that I helped them with. It may seem small but I do appreciate the card, why, when I have bad days, I just look at the card and remind myself that people appreciate my work.

    1. Elle*

      At least you get appreciated. A simple “thank you” – or “I appreciate your attention to details” – goes a very long way. Maybe working for attorneys is different and they are less appreciative? Who knows. Perhaps I am just working for the wrong attorneys.

  37. Rin*

    I totally understand the demeaning part, because it kind of is, but as an admin, and I could take it or leave it. The good thing is that no one else in the office is forced to contribute something. My boss takes us to lunch and that’s it. It’s nice to get out, and I think we just use this day as an excuse to do that.

  38. Maisie*

    Thank you for writing this. I work at a higher ed agency. Before our recent leadership change, we had to celebrate Administrative Professionals [Goddamn] Week. Everyone who wasn’t a director or a PhD would have the honor of being recognized. My first year here was very disconcerting. I remember thinking, “I’m a technical editor with my own team to supervise … why is this card with kittens on it wishing me a Happy Admin Assistant Day???”

  39. AK*

    I’m not an administrative assistant, but I am classified as support staff by my organization and am officially recognized by my organization on Administrative Professionals Day. I would gladly send back the gift card I received if I could avoid the “thanks for all you do!” emails I receive from people I don’t work for.

  40. nona*

    We don’t do admin day/boss’ day/whatever holidays where I work. The only regular celebrations are birthdays. I’m not an admin assistant, but I’m the closest to it that my office has, and I really prefer it this way.

  41. De Minimis*

    Our bosses are providing lunch for our entire department [which is administration] to observe it, so I guess I’m in favor of it.

    I notice though it seems to be more something where they consider all of us, finance, purchasing, HR, and the admin assistant to be administrative professionals….

  42. Diane Kobley*

    Well as an Admin with a BA and an alright paycheque, I still do not get paid what my co-wokers (on hourly pay) do, nor do I get “included” in their luncheons with Managers or when all the Managers come to our office. Nope, I am to order lunch and if there’s anything left, that’s OK to take. I basically do everything in the office, from meeting/greeting people, (we have no receptionist), doing the HR tasks of orientation, paperwork, filing (and no they never take me out even though they come from a different city & use our office for their work), co-ordinating the staff functions, and help the District Controller, Plant Manager, Safety Manager + 2 Warehouse Managers. They take out their senior staff once a month for lunch, but I am to stay & “look after” the office. Once in a while, after I’ve put out extra effort for something or stayed late numerous times to do things for others, I may get to leave on a Friday a half hour early. Like my paycheque is coming out of their pocket? Anyway, my dream was to be a teacher not an ADMIN, so I guess this is what I get for University time & a lot of experience. Yes I know why this day disappoints me, since working in a bigger company all of us would go for lunch, but in a small office no one goes. Sorry but I cannot say I agree or disagree with it, but I wish Managers would just “be nicer” to us throughout the year. One lunch isn’t going to make amends.

    1. Donna*

      WHOAAAAAAAAAA there Diane….your comment….. Anyway, my dream was to be a teacher not an ADMIN…Talk about condescending….I take GREAT offense as I have been called a Secretary, Administrative Assistant (whatever they want to call me)…for over 40 years and I’m GREAT at what I do. I consider it a career because I possess skills that make it easy for everyone I work for and I have only been employed by two well known companies those 40 years. I don’t get paid what my Manager gets paid and hats off to any Admin that may. Quick question Diane…where do you live that they aren’t looking for Teachers so you can fulfill your dream? I had specific companies in my mind and I moved to acquire the position for the second company I currently am still employed by. You actually think being a teacher trumps an admin? Not these days dear.

      1. UncoolCat (formerly Manda)*

        I’m not sure why that’s condescending. She ended up in a job that’s different from what she wanted to do. She’s allowed to be unhappy about that. I didn’t read it as, “I’m a teacher; I’m better than this.” I read it more as, “I’m a teacher; this isn’t what I want to do.” Those are different things. If you’re great at your job and enjoy the work then good for you, but not everyone is cut out for it.

        And for the record, I don’t know what it’s like elsewhere, but where I live, teachers do have a hard time finding jobs. I think the universities are accepting too many students. Most new grads get stuck subbing because that’s all they can find. And no one gets hired permanent right off the bat. They only start out in term positions and if they get laid off because the school division doesn’t have an opening to keep them permanently, then they’re back to term jobs when they’re hired somewhere else.

    2. Elle*

      Hey I feel your pain. Went for my undergraduate as well – rec’d my BA – and still a “legal Secretary” after all is said and done. I still give 120% of myself, and don’t get as much as a “thank you” AND the “staff” where I work are excluded from many “firm functions” and perks, including a corp. membership to a gym. Find that to be very offensive. They do not integrate staff and attorneys/paralegals where I work. Yet, they make it a point to say that “we all count” and we should all be respected. Yeah, sure. Talk about being hypocritical.
      Whatever. it is what it is. I am seeking to exit this role…and go into the medical field. Yep–back to school I go. This is a dead-end street if you ask me. There is zero growth and/or promotability being a “secretary” -even in a law firm. Zero.

  43. Erica*

    It’s Time to End Secretaries Day? I think it’s time to do more research before writing an article like this. First and foremost, if any secretary, administrator, manager, staff, or whoever does not feel respected and appreciated year-around then perhaps it is time to find a new job. Secondly, support staff are appreciated on the work they do every day, besides the fact that they get self-rewarded when they see the outcome their work provided. Notwithstanding, the well-respected higher ups in the professional world, who have the pleasure of working with support staff, are knowledgeable of the level of respect and gratitude there is for anyone who works in a professional environment. In addition, just to clarify, unless you are the CEO or the “top dog” that does not answer to anyone in your company then you are support staff. Yes, any department, any role, any job title you may want to call yourself – YOU, my administrative friend, assist the big boss. Perhaps the negativity towards Secretaries Day stems from just being a cheap person who does not want to buy their assistant a token of appreciation….at least give them a hug Ms. Frugal.

    Well, I guess Ms. Green got what she wanted. Lots of time-wasted comments for a ridiculously opinionated article. Congrats! Can’t wait to see the grand review on Boss’ Day!

    1. Kelly O*

      I think you may have missed the point of the article, Erica.

      We shouldn’t need an Administrative Professionals’ Day (or any specific role) because universally, we should be respected and acknowledged for our work year-round. The need for APD came in the 1950’s, when the administrative support/secretarial function was considered “woman’s work” and not part of a professional team working toward a common goal. Though things have evolved over the years, there are many companies and industries in general wherein administrative support is the proverbial “pink ghetto” – women who are almost expected to be office “moms” and keep the coffee pot filled rather than valued members of the team.

      It’s not about being cheap and not wanting to buy another gift. It’s about a better way of recognizing employees for their contributions, and not singling out individuals for their contributions just because the calendar says it’s a certain day.

      And I hate to be the one to tell you, but even the boss has someone to answer to – it might be family, it might be debtors, it might be any number of things. Depending on your faith there are higher answers here. Human being support other human beings, in a lot of ways. You can choose to look at a company as people who are there to “assist the big boss” or you can choose to see a group of individuals contributing their talents and skills toward a common goal, working in tandem with a leader who is the proverbial public face of things. Good “top dogs” understand exactly where their locus of control is, and how best to delegate and work with their team. A good leader wouldn’t want to be the guy or gal everyone supports.

      For someone so concerned with the “negativity” this was a pretty hostile response.

      1. Elle*

        Thanks Kelly O…for clarifying…and emphasizing the importance of appreciating/valuing a strong work ethic. We do NOT need a day to celebrate this.

    2. Jamie*

      Did you read the article before getting all worked up? Seems like you skipped that part. Couple of things…

      I don’t recommend advising anyone to give hugs at work – bad idea.

      If this was about being frugal Alison would be all over showing appreciation one day a year – a lunch and gift card is a hell of a lot cheaper than paying people properly and showing them professional respect all year round which she always advocates.

      In manufacturing everyone who isn’t direct labor (production) or sales is support staff – including the CEO. If you don’t sell what we make or make what we sell you’re supporting those who do. Not sure why support staff is a dirty word to some – it’s essential.

      If you’re expecting a hyperbolic missive on the awesomeness of Bosses Day I wouldn’t set a calendar reminder to check AAM for it.

  44. 2horseygirls*

    As someone with a BA in public relations, who has held a variety of marketing assistant/office administration roles, and am now in a position with “secretary” in the title, I have to say in 20+ years, the only time I’ve been offended by APD is when it isn’t acknowledged.

    In my current position, it’s the other admins in my office that tend to look down their noses at anyone who isn’t them – whether it’s me in the same office 20 feet away, or another admin in another division across the college. I know that the faculty and other nonacademic departments around the college appreciate me (because they tell me regularly), and very much appreciate me acting as a buffer between my division and their departments. In fact, as I was typing this, I got my first “Happy APD” from an instructor who isn’t even in my division :)

    However, my division doesn’t acknowledge birthdays either, or have any basic social skills at all, so I don’t have high hopes for today… lol

  45. LP*

    While my bosses in the past did give me year round appreciative feedback as a legal secretary, I did always enjoy this “holiday” as well. It was nice to spend time with my bosses and have an extended lunch out with them. I never felt patronized.

    Likewise for the word “secretary”. I never felt demeaned or segregated for being a secretary. It’s a job title. I feel bad that everyone seems to feel so awful about these things. :(

  46. susyq(adml)*

    I’ve been working for an ag company as a Clerk (Admin Assist) temp for 6 year now and this year I have a new boss. I was really taken back on how I havent received even a Congrats or Thanks during this week. Even my co workers haven’t told me anything. It’s really sad that we dont get appreciated as much as we should. We have the ability to resolve many issues and multitask. We also have to teach our coworkers how to complete the simplest of tasks. I have a female coworker who is my mentor, one day she tells me, “You have to learn to be little more selfish with your abilities. When you started at this job you did not receive a manual telling you how to do certain things. You learned on your own and completed the objective.” So now I’m telling you, let others now how you completed certain tasks, but the methods you utilized to complete them were your own hard work and initiative. Happy Admins Week to all.

  47. Cath in Canada*

    A friend told me last night that one of her male colleagues was trying to get people to sign an Admin Professionals Day card for a female colleague who’s a business analyst… and who is known to hate the fact that she’s got sucked into doing so many admin tasks because there’s no-one else to do them…

    My friend refused to sign the card and pointed out that the whole idea was pretty problematic, but to no avail.

  48. AnoninTX*

    I’m very late to this post but as the admin assistant for my department, I would rather get respect all year than cheesy acknowledgment on this fake holiday. But this year at my job, which I’ve held for less than a year, my whole department (5 of us) got a nice flower arrangement for our boss on Boss’s Day – but they didn’t do anything for me for Admin Assistant’s Day, or even acknowledge it. That really chaps my ass. It shouldn’t – it’s just a silly day! My boss said I’m doing a great job in my review the week before. My coworker told me over coffee before an early off-site meeting she was impressed with what I do (we are Advancement/Development and I essentially am the RE admin and gift processor); other superiors and peers have said the same, and the VP, who heads a different department, wants me for a new higher level position. It’s just the recognition of one and not the other.

  49. Janet from another planet*

    I have been an Admiistrative assistants for over 30 years, this year absolutely NOTHING was done for any of the others secretaries on ours particular unit (in a hospital)! The other secretaries told me that their three secretaries received large gift card amounts, and no they would not tell me how much, just wanted to get this off my chest, I cried today as truly my feelings were hurt greatly, its really too late to rectify this, it’s just that I feel so sad, even though what we got was really not usable,life goes on,,,,,,

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