Administrative Professionals Day is weird

Administrative Professionals Day is Wednesday, and it’s time for it to go.

If it were used to draw attention to the need for administrative support staff to be paid fairly, that would be great. But too often it’s a day where admins receive flowers and lunch, then return to jobs where their contributions are undervalued and their paychecks reflect that. Plus, every year I hear from pissed off women who aren’t admins but are given flowers or taken to lunch on this day … because in their offices all women are seen as support staff.

At Slate today, I suggest that maybe next year we can change it to Pay Your Admin More Day. You can read it here.

{ 246 comments… read them below }

  1. FormerAdmin*

    As a former admin of 10 years, I had more education and carts than the people I worked for, worked longer hours with less resources and was treated as a maid and busboy on several occasions. I made $30,000 less than entry-level non-degreed/specialty staff. Pay administrative staff more and change the title to Department Administrator so they’re seen as part of a team and not a gopher.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I must say, as an admin who had to haul stuff around sometimes, I did enjoy my carts, lol.

          1. Sabina*

            I had a rolling mail cart I stole from the mail room and used every day for 20 plus years.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              I can’t believe they let you keep it that long! Around here each department guards their carts with their lives — and they’re all marked with the department name and various threats and admonishments about no borrowing, etc.

    1. Spearmint*

      I always thought it was ridiculous that the pay and titles for admins are frequently so flat across many different kinds of roles. An entry level receptionist is very different than a seasoned admin who keeps an entire off running, yet they’re both seen as just “administrative assistants” in too many orgs.

      (On the education and certs thing, I don’t want to harp on it too much but formal credentials don’t automatically make you more valuable to a company than non-credentialed staff, though it may well have been true in your case)

      1. Ama*

        In academia, despite most faculty acknowledging that a good department admin (or actual faculty assistant if you are still lucky enough to have one) is worth their weight in gold, I know multiple institutions where if an admin wants a pay raise/promotion, they have to move to a different internal position to get it — this is an actual internal policy that prevents faculty from keeping good admins because no one wants to block a talented admin from making the money they deserve. Faculty would be more than willing (and some have) to complain all the way to the Dean and/or University President to argue that they should be able to give their admins raises to keep them, but these policies still persist.

        I know one medical school department where they got around this by basically rotating the admins among themselves every couple of years so everyone can get a raise but other than keeping a different faculty member’s calendar they are mostly doing the same work.

      2. Crimson*

        Ugh yes, it is wildly illogical. ESP because as a baby intern I jumped so quickly from receptionist to someone coordinating a huge important department and it almost killed me. Titles and even pay were very, very similar. I’m now a senior manager with more than double the salary but maybe 20% more responsibility. Admin staff is so undervalued at a lot of places.

    2. It's All Elementary*

      As an admin with three carts, you better not “borrow” my favorite cart and fail to return it promptly.

    3. The Seven*

      Fond memories of being taken out to lunch at an “attorneys only” lunch club and being told how excited I should be to be allowed in. Fond memories of the attorneys who constantly asked me to do personal tasks for them, i.e., turning in nanny’s timesheets, calling his wife’s boss to say she would not be in that day, making copies of personal tax returns, proofreading kids’ homework and then hear them bitching about how they “have” to contribute to a gift card for my b-day, Christmas, etc.

    1. Dawbs*

      Ugh, that’s one of the pitfalls.

      “Gee, Dawbs is female and sometimes in the office, lets recognize her too ”

      And then i get to fight the battle- again- that I’m not admin staff- is just i know how to fix the copier if you ask nicely.

  2. Aphrodite*

    Honestly, Alison, I want to see the title changed not only to “Pay Your Admin More Day”. but to “Find Your Next Manager Among the Admins” day.

    Promotion, people, promotion. Admins are the most overlooked and undervalued of people when it comes to seeking out new managers, not just mid-level managers, but those destined for the C-Suite as well. Good admins have high level skills in a wide variety of areas. If you don’t believe this and are in a position to change things at your company or in your department talk to all the admins to see what they complex jobs do to keep things running so smoothly you cannot see it without an intense study.

    1. BubbleTea*

      This is one of the many great things about the charity I work for. A number of us, including me, started in admin roles and were then taken on for training in the professional roles we were supporting. (And, crucially, new admin staff were recruited, so we didn’t have to cover both.)

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        This is how my mom moved up in her career. The nonprofit also helped her pay to complete her college education. (During a time when that was not as common.)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        YES THIS
        If you’re promoting someone out of an admin role, HIRE SOMEONE! Don’t make them go back and do it or spread it out among the other admins!

    2. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. You need someone to make the ship go, and navigate rough waters with a sometimes unruly crew? You want that EA or Admin Assistant who deals with bigger sharks than you on a regular basis, not missing wrung person who doesn’t belong anywhere near management.

    3. pope suburban*

      Being pigeonholed into this kind of work is one of the things I hate most about it. I don’t like most of the tasks I do. I’m good at them, because of course it’s important to work hard and be good at your job, but…it’s a job I took out of necessity, not one I wanted. The resistance to promoting people from these roles- often, I think, rooted in a perception that we are not capable of “higher level” work, which is appalling- is shortsighted and awful. All I want is out, and the way that many organizations want to block that is frustrating.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Oh god I HATE the pigeonholing. For the first few years of my career, I took administrative roles because they paid more than retail/food service and I liked the hours. But then I decided to go back to school and I’m almost done with my degree and I’m trying to move into different roles within my department, and I can’t. Even though I have volunteer, internship, and work experience in areas in my field, I only get calls back for administrative positions. I actually hate clerical and administrative work. It makes me super miserable and I went back for a degree in a field that is almost exclusively non-office work related.

        1. pope suburban*

          Same. I cannot effing STAND most of the things I have to do, but good luck getting away from them! It’s frustrating to have gone through the trouble of getting the degree that my parents/all the other adults told me would be the path to a good job, and then to have put in the effort to pay my dues and take on additional tasks, and just…stay stuck. This isn’t the kind of work that suits my temperament or how my brain works, so being good at it comes at a pretty high cost to me. The low pay and limited opportunity are just kinda extra stings on top of that.

          1. Bunny Girl*

            Yep. And on top of that, the soft skills I have that make me good at my job magically don’t seem to transfer anywhere else. When I mention that I’d like to move into a different role, I’m told but Oh you’re so good at your job! I answer the phone well because I was not raised by wolves and I can get my tasks done because I am detail oriented and organized. I am not specifically just good at clerical work. I am a competent and skilled employee. I would think those skills would be an asset.

            1. SixTigers*

              Maybe you could explain that either you move into a different role at the organization you’re currently in, or you’ll look into moving into a different role at ANOTHER organization.

              Okay, maybe don’t phrase it like that. Maybe, “I’m looking to expand my responsibilities and use my skills in a different role, and it would be nice if I could do that here, since the organization blah blah blah — ” but basically, the message is, “Either I get a better position here or I get a better position somewhere else; which would YOU prefer?”

              And put out feelers now, before you have this conversation with your boss or with HR. Find out what’s available to you. Could very well be that your very skills and abilities are in hot demand, and that nice companies are anxiously looking to hire people with those s/a at a considerably higher salary than what you’re making now.

            2. Hiding from My Boss*

              I’m still blistering at the coworker who told me I’d probably get all the tough calls because I speak such good English. Yes. She. Said. That. (She also didn’t like answering phones though it was part of her job.) I can imagine the fallout if I had said that.

              1. Despachito*

                Yup, I was once told that as well (you deal with Task X because you are so good at it and Wakeen hates it and it costs him a lot of nerves).

                Did I mention I was a young female, Wakeen was an older male at the same position and with the same responsibilities as me, only 3 years longer with the company? Oh, and that Wakeen’s pay was about one third higher than me? And that Wakeen was friends with our boss?

                It is more than two decades ago, and I am still searching for my lower jaw somewhere on the floor.

            3. Catmomma71*

              Being the coffee maker, having to check the coffee pots. Fix jams. But when another copy machine breaks down in another dept upstairs, they want you to call and explain something you only hear of. Heck, we have many titles and jobs. Cafe cleaner, receptionist, scheduler, customer service, etc etc etc. There’s not much cross training where I am. If I’m out, nobody covers the front desk nor knows alot of what I do.

        2. DJ*

          I hate it when organisations don’t promote those from within who have done the daytime work/evening thing* to gain further qualifications that suit the organisation. They claim they need “external experience” which these highly motivated staff don’t have.
          *this was before the Aust govt cut training and limited what was left to minimum locations so it’s impossible to find a local provider that offers what you need

      2. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

        Hi yes this is my current situation. I’ve been passed over promotions for YEARS now because my original role i was hired for was support staff. I have a professional certification and have been actually been doing additional work for my org but I’ve been denied promotions time and again because I’m ultimately “support staff.” Meanwhile I’ve had the certification and have been doing the additional work longer than many of my promoted coworkers but I’m still stuck. Literally everyone in my department has been promoted at least once except for me.

        1. Bunny Girl*

          I think part of it is a lot of organizations (typically not great ones) want to retain good staff in support positions as long as they can because at the wages most of them are offering, they aren’t going to be able to attract a great talent pool consistently.

            1. Bunny Girl*

              I didn’t say it was a smart thing to do – it’s just something I’ve noticed a lot.

    4. Seeing Second Childhood, CTA*

      YES! Our VP’s executive assistant just stepped in and managed a multimillion-dollar building renovation project. I see no reason why she couldn’t be administering software development.

      1. Raine*

        Executive admins at the C-suite level wind up knowing way more about how the corporation runs than the execs they support and get a third or less of the pay, usually. It’s one of the reasons I quit being an exec admin at that level – it’s thankless work. You’re expected to know how to strategize, plan, manage, disseminate, and explain things at the same or higher level as the exec(s) you support, often to said exec as they dash between meetings. And arrange their personal calendars, too, maybe “help” their children with report, remember their anniversaries, etc.

    5. Gnome*

      Two things. First, this is exactly why when I found out our straight-out-of-school admin wanted to do something entirely else, I bent my network backwards to find her contacts and get her exposure. Not sure if it’s worked or will, but for that particular industry, the very best thing I can do.

      Second, this (and other comments here) are also why I try to thank the admins and EAs (who also sometimes cover admin stuff) regularly because I literally could not do my job without them. Got to e-sign a document and it won’t work (software mismatch), watch the admin drop everything to let you use their software to sign it. Because they rock.

    6. Rocket*

      THIS. I started as an entry level admin assistant and I’m now on a promotional track to become essentially a CFO (I work for a religious institution so we don’t use C-suite titles, but that is the basic equivalent). I know I am the exception and not the rule and that’s baffling to me because my career trajectory feels like it has made so much sense, especially with the way my skills and experience has been developed. I don’t understand why we don’t often see admin as having a place in a management/c-suite promotional track.

      1. Coder von Frankenstein*

        Yeah, it makes perfect sense that the admin role should be a stepping stone to succeed the person whose admin you are. What better way to learn the ropes of their job?

  3. Bernice Clifton*

    I’ve been in various admin positions my whole career, and I can take it or leave it. I like getting flowers or chocolate but I’m not hurt if I don’t get anything.

    Honestly, the biggest reason I come down on Team Pretend It Doesn’t Exist is at organizations where the company doesn’t pay for the gift (because they don’t want to or they can’t because it’s government) and people resent having to contribute their own money – that’s just awkward, and if it’s an org that has an attitude of treating admin as Less Than, it makes it worse in my opinion.

    1. kittymommy*

      Same. Just speaking for me I can’t get to worked up over it. Since I’m in government we can’t use org funds for the gifts so our higher ups foot the bill, which I don’t really like, but if it’s got to be someone I guess they’re the most appropriate. And unless the taxpayers want to start shelling out more in property taxes, I’m definitely not getting a raise anytime soon.

  4. Lucifer Hori*

    Yaaas, please! In the late ’90s, my dept was (against my vocal objections) tasked with obtaining flowers and brunch for the all-female support staff. Imagine my horror when 50+ vases adorned with decorative pics in the shape of TIMECLOCKs were delivered that morning. Spent a frantic half hour removing them before everyone arrived in the conference room for the “festivities.”

    1. stealth admin*

      Flower arrangement in a plastic container in the shape of a memo pad. Embossed with “We Love Our Secretary!” in flowy script. The plastic was infused with some kind of scent. Most like it was supposed to be the same scent as…. the bonus attached tiny vial of perfume.

      I am not joking about any of this.

  5. Eldritch Office Worker*

    #5 raises a question for me (“I was the Manager of Financial Reporting at my last job….). What IS an administrative professional? At my job everything outside the core business is classified as administrative (IT, HR, Ops, Accounting, EA). Obviously the men and women shouldn’t be recognized separately but is there a commonly accepted definition?

    1. Hot-Cryptographer*

      That’s why my firm just call it “Professional Staff Appreciation Day”. Everyone who isn’t an attorney is invited to partake in the catered lunch. Attorneys usually get a card/gift for their assistants and higher-level managers usually do the same for their lower-level staff.

      1. Hiding from My Boss*

        Yet most companies that categorize make a grand-canyon distinction between Professional positions and admin jobs.

        1. Never Boring*

          It’s ridiculous. I’m a (very senior) paralegal with a master’s degree and I know more about the substance of the core functions of our practice than the associates do. And yet I am pigeonholed into doing all kinds of admin stuff that they can’t be bothered to learn, even though we also have an admin. And even though I am expected to be doing substantive legal work for all but a small portion of my workday, and I have a billable hours goal and everything, on which my performance is evaluated. I am not a secretary, not that there’s anything wrong with being a secretary!

    2. Lucy P*

      For our small biz, IT had a bit of overlap into the admin department. Because we’re small, IT would occasionally have to answer phones, scan documents, etc. Of course, this was all disclosed during the hiring process.
      Plus, all admins did work that ventured in HR, accounting, and IT.

    3. Random Biter*

      My “title” is Administrative Specialist but my specialty happens to be that I’m a damn fine cat herder. I make sure the components required to get our installation jobs done are…done. I onboard new hires and keep up on the current employment laws as much as possible while making sure everyone is signed up for health insurance and retirement bennies. I answer the phone because I happen to have the desk it rings into. I plan and implement staff functions while making sure our rental equipment is acquired and returned on time (we’re in the trades). We’re in the process of moving to a new, bigger building. *Lots* of office space, and everyone is excited about getting a door, for pete’s sake. That is until the new GM told the owner she was planning on me being seated at the receptionist desk. In the lobby. I am not the receptionist. The owner has told her I’m not the receptionist. We have so very little walk in traffic that a receptionist is kind of pointless. Yet here we are. I’m waiting to see what the outcome is once we are all moved. To be clear I am not denigrating receptionists…they’re the first line of defense. But I am not a receptionist.

      1. Not Your Secretary*

        Wait, so, you handle private, personal, confidential information for employees, and the GM wants you handling private, personal, confidential information for employees at the front desk?! She has no idea what you actually do there, does she?

        (When you talked about moving to a new building, I actually thought for a sec we might be at the same place, until you mentioned the GM being a woman. Women…don’t get promoted to management here. Yes, it’s disgusting. Also, we’ve always had a receptionist here, and the current one at the reception desk is me, and I’m pretty sure I’m being replaced…but I’ve been wrong before. [I would actually love to lose this job because I hate it, but I don’t see it in my cards until I get another offer.])

        1. Not Your Secretary*

          I’m pretty sure I’m being replaced

          *NOT being replaced. More’s the pity, since I wouldn’t mind it. My Freudian slip might be showing.

        2. Random Biter*

          I know, right?! Currently, there’s 5 of us in a tiny open floor plan that has 2 even tinier offices. the accountant has one, the GM the other, and because of this configuration the employee files (what paper files we have) are in the GM’s office. Does she think that’s how it’s going to continue? I dunno, but wouldn’t be surprised. I’ve put my pissed offedness on hold until I see how this plays out but even the accountant did a WTAF? to me after we got back from the tour of the new place. It doesn’t help that the GM is a bright, young 30-something that the owner thinks is just too cute for words. ::sigh:: Which is not to say she doesn’t work hard, she does, especially in the trades which seem to be the original He Man Woman Haters club. I’m sure she thinks I’m some type of hybrid Jack of all Trades, which I am kinda, but what I’m not is what she thinks I am.

        3. Tiffany Shipp*

          I recently saw a job listing where the high level admin (handles timesheet problems, equipping new staff, purchasing, budgets…) also mans the front cashier desk for a natural history museum. Literally handling tons of personal data and private information while selling tickets. Heck no.

    4. Koalafied*

      I don’t know if this is the popular definition or not, but I think of it as, “career-track office job that does not require an advanced degree or state license.”

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Okay then a followup question I guess is “does this vary by industry?” Because for instance – nonprofit administration and public administration are decidedly not under that umbrella.

    5. Ursula*

      There really seems to be two definitions, with the commonality that it’s the work that has to get done in order for the work that is supposed to be the function of the organization to get done, but isn’t the function itself. The difference in definition seems to be whether you only include the individuals that support a group of others or whether you include the entire departments and management that also do that.

      The origin in secretary’s day implies the first (an individual supporting a group or another individual) but realistically their work isn’t any different than entire departments/levels of management that are support functions.

  6. Just A Secretary*

    I hate this faux holiday with all my being!
    Value my work? Show me in my salary/bonus!
    Acknowledge the hiring of EAs in the same company-wide memo that welcomes other new hires!

    1. Pants*

      I do too. I made a point of making sure the teams I worked with knew too. Didn’t matter. They’d get me the standard card/lunch/flowers anyway. I started taking it off so I wouldn’t be there. I’d come in to the card/lunch/flowers the next day.

      Now I work from home and my boss is in Ireland where they don’t have that stupid holiday. Glory be!

  7. Rona Necessity*

    My boss: Why can’t I find anyone to be our new admin assistant??
    Me: You have to pay more than minimum wage.
    My boss: If only there were a way to make the position more attractive….
    Me: Pay more.
    My boss: I guess no one wants to work anymore.

    We’ve been without an assistant since mid-February. We haven’t ordered supplies. Our timesheets are all out of wack. I’m a female engineer and the most junior person in the office, so I’m very wary of being sidelined into administrative work, but I can’t stand walking in and out of the office past that stupid blinking light telling me the front desk has a bunch of voicemails. Please, for the love of god, just pay people what they’re worth.

    1. Lucy P*

      I’m surprised by the number of job posts that I see, looking for an Executive Assistant, that want the candidate to handle every aspect of the Executive’s business and personal life (make copies, maintain calendar, organize parties, pay the mortgage, and manage the household staff). Yet, they only pay $15-$20/hr.

        1. A*

          Yup! At my last employer the VP’s Exec. Assistant left to accept a PA position and now makes close to what her former boss does. He was shocked, SHOCKED, when he found he had to significantly bump the pay to get qualified candidates to replace that role.

    2. Kayem*

      I once interviewed at a place that wanted an admin assistant. During the interview, I discovered what they really needed was an office manager, but they didn’t want to pay office manager wages, so they advertised it as an admin assistant. Which would have been bad enough if they hadn’t offered a salary of $6/hr…after minimum wage had been $7.25/hr for the past year. When I questioned the wage being below federal minimum, they said they’d agree to raising it to minimum wage, but then it would only be a part time job while still expecting to do the work of a full time office manager.

      Gee, and they wonder why I rejected their offer…

      1. Empress Matilda*

        But nobody wants to work any more! Darn lazy Xennials…something something bootstraps…

      2. Hiding from My Boss*

        Compare with all the postings for “office managers” to run errands, answer phones, make copies, and do the filing. Ha!

    3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Saw a job listing in a local paper for an office administrator – stating it’s for £12k a year. I earnt more than that in 1999!

      Also in the listing was a ‘ideal for those looking to come off unemployment benefits’

      Anyone want to bet that listing is going to a) be there for months and b) get passive aggressive about how nobody is applying?

      (Side note I found one for a systems administrator for £22k. Ha ha ha nope)

  8. Nessun*

    I’ve worked as an admin for almost 20 years (now manager for other admin as well) and part of the problem for me is that APD is so …token. It’s one day when people get taken out for lunch and given gift cards, but these same people have to organize the event, expense the lunch, and circulate the gifts. We need to standardize thanking admin YEAR ROUND, not treating them like second class citizens who are only recognized on APD. Thank an admin when they do a great job – and remember that them doing a great job is often the reason why things seem to be going smoothly. Gratitude is not a one-day-a-year event, and admin are integral to a great experience for staff and customers.

    1. Elizabeth Bennett*

      Thank you for all of your hard work that is often unseen, until something goes sideways, and then you’re expected to fix it like magic. Seriously. Admins make the world go ’round.

  9. SelinaKyle*

    Is this a US thing? I’ve never heard of it and it’s never been celebrated in private or public organisations I’ve worked for.

    1. A*

      US & Canada as far as I know. But it varies by industry etc. I grew up in the 90s and never heard about it until I was presented with flowers at my first job….. as a junior engineer. That’s the only time I’ve come across it in my career, it’s mostly viewed as an antiquated ‘holiday’.

    2. Admin*

      To be fair — it’s a US thing, and I have never worked–in 20+ years at an organization that recognized it.

    3. Asenath*

      It’s sneaking into Canada as well, although in my last position, it was only observed by a small handful of more senior people who got flowers or lunch for the one admin who worked most closely with them. It wasn’t a employer-wide initiative, for which I was devoutly thankful. I didn’t want some silly token gift or lunch, thank you very much, since I despised the invented “holidays” (not really a holiday of course, just a day for a token gift), and figured we were all even since I did my work as well as I could, and accepting pay and benefits in response. None of the people whose admin support I was gave me anything for Admin Professionals Day, and I certainly was careful not to hint that they should.

  10. Super Admin*

    Oh good god, this day. Not A Thing in this country until you work for a US-HQed company and suddenly it’s A Thing, and they try to make a big deal with speakers and team building events for admins, and focus it about how we can develop ourselves and our career but they still haven’t actually addressed the lack of progression or promotion opportunities, or the fact that raises are limited when there’s no higher title to move to because there’s only three admin levels in entire the company despite us all working COMPLETELY different jobs… We’re paid well, for admins, but the lack of career track is depressing.

  11. Sloanicota*

    I am an avid Slate reader and I continue to be impressed by how Alison has tamed the comments section there, which is usually extremely unkind and awful (I read it anyway, because I am obsessed with all comments sections). I always have wondered why the comments here are so continually excellent, when most places are a cesspool, and even places that are carefully monitored like Captain Awkward (used to be) tend to get dominated by certain personalities and perspectives. Alison is just that good!

    1. Spencer Hastings*

      I only really read the advice columns on Slate these days, so I don’t know what the comment sections on the political articles are like, but I wouldn’t say those are awful. They do feel free to disagree with the columnists — which is often extremely justified, like last week when Doyin Richards answered a letter from a new mom who asked how to deal with not having time to do art (and sounded like she might be suffering from postpartum depression) and his response amounted to, essentially, “suck it up; other people can do it, why can’t you?”

      1. Sloanicota*

        There is always a couple people who don’t just disagree with the columnist but also launch pretty personal attacks against them. Sometimes I disagree pretty strongly with the advice given (much more often there than with Alison! But there was also a literal troll sending fake-“woke” letters to Slate advice columns to be fair) but I rarely feel a need to make it personal.

      2. GooberPea*

        “ it’s one of the most mean-spirited groups of Internet dwellers I’ve come across”
        Actually I’ve found the most mean-spirited, bottom-dwelling commenters to be on my local newspaper and TV news channel websites. Houston news sites, I’m looking at you ! They go straight to the bottom from the get-go. Ruthless moderation is the only answer. Thank you, Alison!

    2. Churlish Gambino*

      I…don’t think Alison has any control of the moderation on comments for her articles. But the commenters over there tend to be fellow fans, so that’s probably why.

      I’m a frequent reader/commenter over there and I completely agree that it’s one of the most mean-spirited groups of Internet dwellers I’ve come across. It’s especially telling that some of the worst offenders are also moderators!

      1. Sloanicota*

        Exactly, she doesn’t control the comments there (but does here, and uses a heavier hand on letters like today’s that require it) but somehow the comments there always seem better than average on Alison’s pieces. Perhaps you’re right and it’s some of the same people but I’d be surprised if that was the only factor.

      2. pancakes*

        Yeah, I don’t look at comments over there any more but several times in the past I’ve thought their volunteer moderators really need moderating.

  12. LilPinkSock*

    I’m an admin. I’ve been dismissed as a “secretary” and spoken to/about very condescendingly on this very forum. Too many of our colleagues really do think we’re less-than and don’t hesitate to air those prejudices.

    1. Sandy*

      I just don’t get this mindset because nothing would get *done* without admin work. The place would grind to a halt.

      1. J.E.*

        And many times the boss doesn’t really know how things function. You see this if the admin is out on leave and the boss has to frantically search for things or ask other staff where something is/how something is done.

        1. A*

          Agreed, and at least in my line of work it’s becoming increasingly common for people to be expected to handle their own admin duties / phasing out admin roles aside from receptionist and a few exec assistants for the big wigs. I started out my career working as an admin before going back to school, so I know how hefty the workload can be and how thankless of a role it often becomes. But a lot of a colleagues have never worked with / had exposure to a dedicated admin role so they have no clue. Whole different ballgame to compare an individuals admin tasks to that of a whole dept/function/company etc.

          1. Birdie*

            My last job, there were no admins, but you can be darn sure all the admin work that goes into having a (semi) functional office was being done by someone. About 6 months before I left, I said I had enough of all the admin stuff being pushed onto my plate over the years and I was dropping the rope. People flipped out. But no discussions about hiring an admin professional of any sort were had. And so stuff….simply didn’t happen. And people flipped out. But still no discussions about hiring an admin professional of any sort were had. And so stuff….continued not happen. And people flipped out some more. So I left.

            Apparently stuff still isn’t happening. But they’ve suddenly found in the budget (in which there was never any money to pay me for the job I was hired to do, let alone all the other stuff I ended up doing) to hire a part-time, and wildly underpaid, admin assistant.

            I’m rather enjoying the big cup of schadenfreude I’m sipping as I watch that organization flail about. My former grandboss calling my current boss earlier today to say “We need your help! Our fundraising is so far behind last year and suddenly basic administrative stuff isn’t being done!” was the cherry on top.

          2. DJ*

            When there is no admin it’s surprising how often they’ll latch onto someone else to do it for them whilst claiming there is no need for admin support. One of the reasons is that whatever the other staff are being employed to do they naturally want to focus on that type of work and let someone else handle the admin side. Would a nurse want to prioritise paperwork that ideally someone else could do over tending to patient/nursing related duties.

      2. Not Your Secretary*

        I just don’t get this mindset because nothing would get *done* without admin work. The place would grind to a halt.

        This! Oh, my gosh, this!! I still remember working for a doctor’s office as the receptionist. I went out of town for a few days when I had a long weekend off, so I didn’t have to even take any days off work. While out of town, I got stranded in an unexpected storm that shut down travel to a huge portion of the country for a week. When I finally got back to work, the doctor-owner told me she’d been seriously considering just closing down the office till I returned because they could barely function without me there shouldering the workload I handled every day.

        Three months later, this extremely wealthy doctor gave me my first annual review. She told me she was giving me a raise for all my hard work. My raise? A whole 25 cents! Which meant I was now making a whopping 25 cents over minimum wage (which was something like $7.25/hr). She owned multiple vacation homes and repeatedly shamed me for “throwing away money” by renting an apartment I could actually afford, and driving my 9-year-old, paid-off, used Honda instead of a brand-new Audi like her. Said doctor wrote my paychecks, so she knew exactly how much I made–not sure where she thought I’d get Audi money from! She then got serious and told me she would be greatly increasing my workload “because you’ve proven you can handle it, and because you’re the bottom rung on the ladder, so you get stuck with everything the rest of us don’t want to do. I want you to earn your raise.” Her exact words. (Uhhh…I thought I got the raise because I’d already proved I deserved it?)

        She was very surprised when I handed her my two weeks’ notice the next day.

        1. LifeBeforeCorona*

          Excellent, I hope it took forever to hire someone to replace you and that most people walked out on the interview after learning about the pay and job duties.

          1. Not Your Secretary*

            I didn’t expect any follow-up after my leaving, but a little over a year later, I ran into one of the lab assistants in the grocery store since we all lived and had worked together in the same general neighborhood. She told me the office had “THE WORST TIME!!” (as she said, very enthusiastically) trying to get someone else to stay in my position. According to her, three or four receptionists in succession took the job. I’ve forgotten the exact number over the years. And each quit within weeks for better-paying positions elsewhere with less “BS and office drama” (again, as she put it, and she wasn’t wrong about the drama or BS! The doctor was a toxic person, and the employees in her inner circle were just like her.)

            She then told me they were just about to lose their most current receptionist, who’d just taken the job for spending money since her husband was some kind of well-paid exec. That woman lasted about six months, and they thought she’d stay for the long haul. But her husband was getting transferred to another country, so she was leaving, just like the rest of us on the front desk. I can’t say I didn’t laugh a little when I heard Toxic Office couldn’t keep employees at terrible wages for too much workload.

            A few years after that, I found out the office was keeping a Facebook page for their business, and it seemed like every time I checked it, there was a new receptionist. Then, a few more years after that, our state raised the minimum wage dramatically. Literally the same day, the doctor announced on Facebook that she was retiring and closing down the clinic at the end of the month. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that she suddenly decided to retire to her multimillion dollar beach-houses the same day she found out she’d have to pay her employees a more decent wage (which was still just minimum wage in the end for most of us). /s

            I had been planning to leave that job even before I gave my two weeks’ notice, but the doctor actually shot herself in both feet when she gave me that insulting review and raise. I already had a new job lined up, a delivery route job that paid more than double what I was making, but it didn’t begin until July. My review was in March. I had been planning to give her plenty of warning I was leaving and work for her until the weekend before my new job started. I didn’t like her, or the job, or how she bragged that she was “smart enough” to keep me at 39 hours a week so she didn’t have to pay me full-time benefits, but I didn’t want to risk burning a bridge with a former employer by leaving abruptly if I could still get a good reference. But when she triple-insulted me with that ridiculous raise, announcing she was giving me more work, and telling me to my face I was the least valuable employee because I was “just a receptionist” despite the office being unable to competently function with me gone…oh, yeah. I burned that bridge with absolutelyno regrets about leaving her in the lurch.

            1. Not Your Secretary*

              And yes, leaving that position so suddenly meant I got an unexpected, almost four-month vacation instead of just a long weekend between jobs! :) I may have been a Filthy Poor, renting my Filthy Poor apartment, and driving my Filthy Poor used car–according to that doctor’s classist attitude–but I was a Filthy Poor who knew how to save and budget, and could totally afford to take a few months of peace, with zero workplace drama and being treated as lesser because I “only” did administrative work.

      3. Rocket*

        It’s because so many non-admin workers/managers just don’t realize that. They don’t see all the work that is done to make things run smoothly. My last boss, who I did not really get along with (nothing egregious, we just rubbed each other the wrong way), called me about 3 or 4 months after I had left that job and after the person who they hired to replace me had crapped out in a blaze of glory, to tell me she had never realized or appreciated all that I did until after I left and no one was doing it anymore.

    2. Aphrodite*

      Yes, I am always surprised (and hurt) by comments from women and men here that, while always valid to their points about not being mistaken for an admin because they are not one, are demeaning to admins. Sometimes their comments are followed up by a variation of “admins are great” but the meaning is clear. Do NOT mix my professional skills up with a (lower class) admin.

      Or maybe I am grumpy today.

      1. Spearmint*

        Well, it’s tricky. I completely understand feeling hurt by comments like that, and I agree that admins are undervalued and should be paid more and given more advancement opportunities. Also, as I said above, many people with admin titles do work that doesn’t get recognized in their title.

        But, ultimately admins mostly are doing support work, and usually less specialized work as well, and even in a world where admins were valued fairly, their work would (usually) be less valuable to an organization than that of a non-support staff member. So I understand why people in non-support roles view being treated as an admin as lowering their status in a company.

        It’s tricky to communicate both at the same, but they’re both true.

        1. KRM*

          Plus a lot of women who pitch in to help out with organizational things then get shuttled into “oh she must be an admin” in people’s minds, and then they treat you as such. If I have a set of professional skills that got me hired at a place, I don’t want someone from the next department over thinking I’m an admin just because I helped clean up after the potluck. I have skills that admins don’t. Admins have skills that I don’t. Women are not all admins, not all admins are women.
          In conclusion, pay admins more because they have skills that I could never hope to reach, and don’t assume that admins are “lesser” (or that a woman is an admin) because you see them cleaning things up after an event (or what have you).

        2. anonforthis*

          I don’t entirely agree with this comment. Support work isn’t “less valuable” – it’s just different. A company wouldn’t function without support work. Think if the other support work a company relies on – IT, Account Management, Accounting…. Administrative Services falls under this category of support services but for whatever reason gets the least respect out of all of them.

          I think women who aren’t admins have a right to be upset if they get mislabeled as an admin for the same reason it is annoying to be mislabeled as any other job.

        3. LilPinkSock*

          I wonder if you have an admin, and if you told that person that their work is less valuable.

          1. Fleebers*

            If @Spearmint didn’t explicitly state that they find their admin’s work less valuable, I have a feeling the admin knows all too well.

            There’s a guy in my office who refers to non-admin staff as “professionals” and the admins as “non professional staff.” He’s not the only “professional” like this, I’ve met so many.

      2. grizzly barrister*

        I once had an SVP in my company refer to me as “Bob’s secretary.” At the time I was junior legal counsel for the company, and I don’t think he would have done that if I were older or a man. I later was in the position to tell Bob “No” on something that he wanted to do, and he took it over my head where he was given a much more senior “No” and finally backed off. On the opposite side, I separately had an outside counsel get frustrated at m that I couldn’t agree to a $200k settlement because my settlement authority was capped at $100k at the time (again, junior counsel) and I had to run it up the chain, and we lost time because he kept trying to creatively get around that or get me to just agree to it, which I wouldn’t/couldn’t do. So I guess for me it’s largely about getting things done, and things aren’t going to get done if you don’t understand or believe my role and how much authority I do and don’t have.

      3. Nanani*

        It’s a double-edged sexist sword.
        The woman who is not an admin but being given a trinket is right to be upset that she’s being labelled “woman” and not her actual job.
        The admins who hear this as “I’m not JUST an admin” are seeing a reflection of the very real fact that admin work is undervalued.
        And why is admin work undervalued? because it’s considered women’s work.

        A divisive, sexist orobouros that conveniently keeps women too busy cleaning this muk off ourselves to get any work done.

        Did I mention the sexism? Cause that’s the root. It’s sexism.

        1. anonforthis*

          The disdain for admins is definitely rooted in sexism. The irony is that the digital revolution has made admin work very skilled in lots of software. The admins I know know how to use a ton of programming software, macros and Visual Basic on Excel, etc. And that’s in addition to the executive and attention to detail needed to be a good admin. I have no doubt have if men were largely admin assistants, they would be lauded and paid for their skills, but because it’s mostly women they don’t.

      4. acmx*

        I work in a pretty male dominated industry and function. When I tell people where I work, they always ask if I am a [predominately female position]. I preface my ‘no, I am not’ with a mention on how great ours are and that I couldn’t do their job (and it’s a very important job actually). But it’s aggravating to always be assumed that I must work in that other field just because I’m a woman. I think once a person just asked what I did.

    3. Ta*

      Yes and that nice little sparkle in people’s eyes when they are |NICE TO YOU| (and you can tell they are thinking to themselves, I am such an exceptional person, I am NICE TO THE ADMIN). People who do this: I can tell what you are thinking and I think you such.

      1. LilPinkSock*

        People here say that all the time. “Be nice to the receptionist because that’s how you can get favors done”. Or…be nice to support staff because we are humans.

      2. Yellowjacket #3*

        See also – people who INSIST on stopping to say Hi/How are you every single time they pass the front desk even when the receptionist is clearly in the middle of something else. And then get really satisfied with how polite they are being without realizing they’re interrupting someone who is doing actual work (would you say hi to every one of your non-admin colleagues every single time you pass their desks??)

      3. Maggie*

        I fear this is me. I go out of my way to acknowledge and appreciate the admin staff at my building because our new-ish leadership team is ATROCIOUS and never spend any amount of effort thanking or acknowledging our admin team, who is far more skilled than the leadership. However, I don’t interrupt their work. How can I do better if I don’t have input in their salaries? What would be a good way to regularly show appreciation?

        1. Nameless in Customer Service*

          I think if you don’t interrupt people’s work you’re being a net positive.

      4. Chickaletta*

        Ta, so true! Fakers don’t realize that other people can see right through them. Fortunately, they’re usually annoying to my boss as well for other reasons so they don’t get far…

    4. Former EA*

      You know how a lot of people think everyone should work retail or fast food at some point to learn to respect service employees? I feel kinda like that about Admin work.*

      I started as an EA and have moved into other work, and I’m always amazed by my coworkers who think our EA is there to do anything they don’t want to do. I’m constantly pushing back on lazy colleagues who refuse to learn how to set up meetings or use new programs because “they’ll just have EA do it.” They think they’re all overworked and EA must be a vast well of unused time (even though she’s just as overworked as the rest of us). And they talk to her like they’d never talk to another colleague (and it’s not just sexism– we’re a majority female shop).

      *I realize this is a terrible idea because most people would be terrible EAs/admins. I know I was.

  13. Amber Rose*

    Our group (the range of people who report to my boss) is called the admin group. The group has only one actual admin in it, the rest of us are quality/safety, IT, logistics, inventory management and electronics.

    It’s sad how admin is such a generally misunderstood job here that it’s being used as a stand-in for “Misc.” We are the unclassed, the assorted, the mishmash of random jobs. The… admin. Apparently. Which is how I keep getting asked to order lunch for the board meetings when our single admin is away. :|

  14. EA!!*

    One more note – please stop referring to secretaries, administrative assistants or executive assistants as “girls”

    1. OyHiOh*

      And also, when introducing people, use the professional titles they use!

      The executive director of a sister organization routinely introduces me to people as “X organization’s admin.” My actual official title is office manager (which I know this ED knows) and it drives me a little batty. I usually end up name dropping people I’ve worked with, or referencing projects I’ve been involved in just to make clear the scope of my role.

      1. Tired EA*

        When people do this, it frustrates me to no end. I once attended a department meeting for one of the many departments my officer oversees, and, when I was introduced to the group, the person speaking called me a secretary. Most people, including the speaker, have known me for many years, and I’ve been in the role of EA for most of that time. The silence after the introduction gave my little heart hope. It spoke volumes to the fact that my fellow coworkers understood that, no, I’m not a secretary, and, yes, he was deeply incorrect for calling me such.

        I thanked him for the introduction, introduced the new executive assistant shadowing me, and paused long enough for him to speak up to say, “Oh, you’re an executive assistant? I don’t think I knew that. Well, secretary… executive assistant, it’s all the same, right? Anyway, sorry about that!”

        Years of working as an EA is the only thing that kept me from showing on my face what I was thinking in my head.

    2. Four Calling Birds*

      Yes!! I was in college, working part-time as an assistant to my department’s administrator, when one of the professors left a note asking for us to do a task, addressed to “Girls:”

      I was barely even offended for myself because I was all of maybe 20 years old, but my boss was in her sixties!

  15. CostAlltheThings*

    I’m a Cost Accountant who is being promoted to Accounting Manager effective May 1st. I’m also 1 of 4 selected to go this year to the Admin lunch…also going is someone currently filing the role of Executive Admin for the President, the manager of the Benefits and Payroll and her next in line. Yes, we’re all women.

    I guess I should be happy to get a free lunch

  16. kitryan*

    This year they’ve announced a lunch. In years past we’ve gotten gift cards (the use anywhere, no expiring ones). I’m waiting to see if the lunch is in addition to the gift card or instead of the gift card. I know which one I’m hoping it is and which I’m concerned it might be.

  17. Aggresuko*

    My office is full of clerical workers. Nobody’s ever done a darned thing for this day my entire life. It is a made up holiday that does not actually work or exist. But I’m aware that we are worthless, so.

  18. epiphanomaly*

    I was turned down for a promotional opportunity (not even allowed to proceed with the Civil Service exam) because even though I had the required number of years working in HR, “secretaries cannot absorb professional-level experience on the job.”

    Yup. My job title makes me too stupid to gain experience.

    I am, naturally, looking for work elsewhere.

    I will have an _extremely_ resentful day Wednesday.

    1. pope suburban*

      Ah, you and me both! I applied for a job I’ve officially covered, to outstanding patron feedback and performance reviews, officially for months on end, and unofficially for months more. I did well on the external panel interview; they said they could see me in the job. I was stopped from attending the internal panel interview because my role “doesn’t prepare you to move up.” I am massively overqualified and I have done the job, officially, as well as my own. I’m trying to leave now, because this place just said the quiet part out loud, and expects to be able to drain me dry for nothing. Nope, not gonna happen, hope it was worth it, guys.

  19. many bells down*

    This administrative professional just saved her nonprofit $6000 a year in copier costs. What are your administrative wins?

    1. A*

      Such a perfect example! Also why I gladly accept candidates with admin/office manager etc. experience when looking to fill Indirect Spend positions. There’s so much cross over with other functions!

    2. KimberT*

      I’m here for this thread!

      I fixed a broken laminator at a different school than I work at because I was bored and saw it was severely jammed. The school was literally going to order a replacement the next day.

    3. Baska*

      Ooh, I’ll play! While usually my contributions as an office manager aren’t *quite* so directly tangible or so large, I singlehandedly saved our organization $155k over the past two years when Canada was doing employer-side wage subsidies during the pandemic. I was the one who figured out how to fill out the dang forms, and then diligently filled them out every month to keep the money coming in. (And ooh, boy, were they finicky forms!) I just paid for myself for nearly four years of work lol!

      1. Chinook*

        I figured out how to do GST claims/rebates for my company with its head office in California but our R&D office in Ottawa. Our American accountant thought the Canadian Revenue Agency website would be too hard to understand and in French (his words) so he didn’t bother. My boss knew how much money this was leaving on the table (basically all our GST paid out for business expenses as we, as a division, didn’t collect invoice anything) and tasked me with figuring out how to file the claims.

        Which I did, every quarter, based on the invoices I submitted to California for payment. It took me 5 minutes each time because I tracked the A/P I sent to California AND I learned enough that, when I became self-employed later in life, I was able to do the same thing for my own business.

        I will admit to petty revenge on the American accountant. He was going to Toronto in July for a wedding and asked if he should bring his skiis to get some skiing in while he was up here. I said yes.

  20. Hailrobonia*

    My favorite administrative professionals day story: The admin staff support group at the university I work at had a table set up to provide flowers and chocolate to admins. I (a man) went along with my coworker (a woman) to get our goodies.

    They handed her some flowers and chocolates and said “happy admin day” or something. Then, when they handed some to me, said “you can give these to your secretary.” I laughed and said “I AM the secretary!”

    So ironic that in all their attempts to break stereotypes about the admin role, they ended up perpetuating them.

    1. Not Your Secretary*

      I can’t believe they’d treat someone from glorious Robonia (a land I didn’t make up) so disrespectfully. :(

  21. Sharing a Cube*

    Also, are there any admins out there that don’t ultimately have to organize their own recognition?

    CEO to EA: Hey, can you organize a lunch, order a bunch of gift cards, and coordinate a signed greeting card from all the VPs for Administrative Professional Day?

    1. J*

      YES! I had to order the cake, prepare the lunch potluck (that support staff was expected to contribute to) and draft the emails to support staff that would go out. When the attorneys decided they’d combine forces to fund the main dish, I had to find the caterer, collect the money and place the order. And of course I and our receptionist had to set up the dining area. Then my boss forgot to include me on the email I had drafted and he made me sit in on a meeting to take notes during the meal so he could go tell everyone how appreciated they were.

      I started sending in my applications the next week and gave my notice within a month. It wasn’t the only reason but it helped me understand my value much better.

    2. Tired EA*

      I’m directed to set up a lunch “wherever you want and invite whomever from the office,” and then I get to coordinate who is riding with whom, etc. Good times…

    3. Maggie*

      I get a small gift out of my own pocket for my high school’s admin team specifically because I know my principal otherwise makes them organize their own thing and it enrages me. That’s not appreciation!

  22. Elizabeth West*


    I’ve been trying to get out of the general admin pool for a long time. The pay is too low, especially for entry-level jobs that require a bachelor’s degree (WTF!). Reception in particular can be a stressful, difficult, low-income, butt-in-seat job that everyone takes for granted. Back in 2017, I applied for one in OldCity where the hiring manager said, “We’re looking for someone who wants to stay long-term.” The job paid $10 an hour. Good luck with that!

    Now that I have a project management certification, I’m shooting for jobs that push me in that direction, particularly at larger companies where more opportunities to make lateral moves exist. To counter the admin titles on my resume, I’m careful to emphasize duties that lean toward those kinds of roles to show how my experience fits. It’s a slog, to be sure.

    I think career admins should have better salaries, better benefits, and more company-sponsored ways to enhance their skills. If you’re saying you can’t function without them, then PROVE IT.

  23. Anonny*

    Very dumb question – is secretary still a title used anywhere? Is an admin just the new title for that role or did that role go away?

    Likewise what is an office manager and how is it diff from an admin?

    1. Lady Luck*

      Secretary is out of date, but I do still hear it used, generally by older people. I had a boss in her 60s that referred to all the support staff as the secretaries, most likely because that used to be the norm when she started in the workforce. Generally, admin or assistant is considered more acceptable nowadays.

      And in my experience, an office manager is someone who usually supervises all the admin and support staff. So, technically still part of the admin team, but a step up.

    2. Former EA*

      If you’re a cabinet member.

      I wonder what Biden is getting the Secretary of Defense for administrative professionals day? The single rose in a dinky vase and slightly chalky chocolate, or just one?

      1. Phony Genius*

        That joke worked so much better when it was still called “Secretaries’ Day.”

        (Please do not read this as an endorsement to return to using that name.)

    3. KimberT*

      My school district still uses it. The full time office manager is the “secretary” and the part time assistant is a “clerk” still.

    4. Asenath*

      We had job classifications called “secretary” in my former job – they had lower pay and fewer salary/promotion possibilities than the jobs with “admin” in the title, but it was a close thing. I used to get a bit defensive about the secretaries – I remember saying once when someone called me a secretary by mistake saying something like “Oh, I couldn’t be a secretary! I don’t have the qualifications!” Which was literally true; secretaries generally had short courses in office management (and had to pass typing tests) while the organization was trying to ensure that all the admins (some of whom were former secretaries) had at least a bachelor’s degree – and no typing test. I had the degree, but not the office management (formerly called something like secretarial studies) certificate. I’ve never worked somewhere with an office manager position, but you could have quite a bit of responsibility in either the secretary or the admin position. I am totally sure that upper management didn’t have the slightest idea what people in different job classifications did. At one point, a meeting was called for all admins, at which we discovered that they thought we handled the bookkeeping for our departments. We didn’t. That was part of what the secretaries did.

    5. Calibri Hater*

      We have secretaries in higher ed. They’re paid the absolute legal minimum wage and not treated well.

    6. Sophie K*

      Secretary is the official payroll title of my position. But I (and most of the other “secretaries”) use “legal assistant” in our email signatures. I’m currently job hunting, and I have seen “legal secretary” used for a handful of job postings. I think it’s partly because “legal administrative assistant” is a mouthful. I often get admin positions in other industries in my search results on job boards, and I haven’t seen secretary used anywhere else that I recall.

  24. Lady Luck*

    I used to work in an office that did the “take the admin out for lunch today” thing…which is bad enough. Except every year, one of us wouldn’t even get to go because someone had to stay behind to answer phones and in case the execs needed anything. And the rest of us felt bad for leaving one person behind who couldn’t even enjoy one miniscule lunch outing. So yeah…a real morale booster it was not.

    1. Gracely*

      At my institution, we had to fight, repeatedly, for the staff appreciation day to *not* be catered by the institution. The C suite had to have it explained to them, MORE THAN ONCE, that making the food service employees work at their own staff appreciation event would not be fair/good/etc. to them.

    2. ecnaseener*

      I had to read this twice…they made one of the admins miss the admin appreciation lunch?! No one else in the office was willing and able to answer phones for an hour???

      1. McS*

        To paraphrase a quote about Valentine’s Day (which I do not celebrate), there is something kind of toxic about needing a day on the calendar to remind you to appreciate people who make your job enjoyable for you.

    3. Bunny Girl*

      When I was in an admin position at a University, our department head would take us out to lunch for APD. I went once and then conveniently had a stomach ache or appointment every year after. Of the four admins in the department, one of them was tolerable and the others were pretty low on a list of people I would have lunch with. Our department head had the personality of a bucket of mop water. Plus he took us out to his favorite restaurant which had no vegetarian options (he knew I didn’t eat meat). It was the most awkward unpleasant thing ever. No one spoke. He insisted on it being an hour and a half. It 100% felt like a punishment instead of a reward.

      1. Ruby Julian*

        A few years ago, all us university admin people were invited to a celebratory administrative specialists’ breakfast. Then we found out we’d have to pay $7.50 each to attend. I decided not to go and was nagged about it, but did not give in. Especially not when I could get the same breakfast for $5 in the cafeteria.

  25. UpperLearning*

    The past 2 years we got gift cards for this “holiday.” This year we’re getting a lunch placed in the middle of the busiest time of year so most of us will have to choose between staying late to make up the work and skipping the lunch and risking offending higher-ups who are so proud of themselves for “showing appreciation.”
    The real kick in the teeth of all this is that HR-wise, only 5 of the 40 people invited to the lunch are administrative assistants. The rest of us are people who work here in other jobs that are neither administrative nor anyone’s assistant. But every year this day serves as a reminder that those in charge still just see us all as their secretaries in some way or another.

  26. What a way to make a living*

    Sounds wildly patronising to me. Recognise all your colleagues all the time by being respectful and valuing their work. A separate day seems to be saying we see admin as different from everyone else.

  27. Hotdog not dog*

    This one is tied with “Boss’ Day” as my least favorite faux holiday. How about in place of performing “appreciation” we all just treat our administrative professionals as PROFESSIONALS on a regular basis, and especially on payday! As a former EA, it was so patronizing to have to organize gifts and lunch for the other admins, and “oh, Hotdog, don’t forget to order one for yourself!” Add to that, it took about a decade longer than it should have for me to get promoted because despite having more professional licenses than my boss, I was told I was “too valuable as a secretary”. If I were all that valuable, why was I only eligible for a 1.5% raise, while my boss got well into 6 figures?
    Even now, when I am no longer an admin of any type, I still get sideswiped by the festivities since most of the management assumes all “the girls” should be included.
    (Please feel free to assume an irritated and sarcastic tone when reading this!)

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I’d bet money if they had to organize it themselves, they might not do it anymore.

  28. Seeing Second Childhood, CTA*

    And let us not forget the fun companies that give roses to their women, and forget the man who is their actual Administrative Assistant.

  29. Everything Bagel*

    I was an admin when I was much younger, but eventually moved out of that roll. When I was an admin, I felt really appreciated to receive generous gifts from my manager and co-workers on admin day, often a gift card that everyone contributed to. Once I moved out of the admin job and was asked to contribute toward a gift, I came to realize that none of my former coworkers had voluntarily given me gifts, but they were told how much they needed to contribute based on their seniority in the department. It was a bit shocking, though I was probably naive, to realize that although everyone was smiling and being nice to me, many were not too happy about having to give me a gift. I felt so stupid after that, I wished that admin day didn’t exist because had I known my co-workers were being forced to do it, I never would have accepted the gift. It’s kind of like having all of your employees contribute toward the pay of the lowest paid employee instead of the company doing it. It’s embarrassing. My admin now is very appreciative of the annual gift, but I wonder if she realizes how it comes about. I sort of begrudge having to contribute, but I do it anyway because who wants to be the one to say she doesn’t deserve a gift. Frankly, she probably deserves more pay instead, though I have no clue what she makes.

    1. Asian Former Teacher*

      That’s kind of where I’m at with this holiday too. As a former teacher, I contributed to the secretary’s gift because I knew she celebrated it. But I hated what it represented.

      Now as an admin for an institution, I really hope no one gets me anything. But if they do, what am I supposed to do? Make a big speech about it? It looks tacky.

      I hope everyone forgets!

  30. Randi*

    Thanks for this, Alison! I literally just (a week ago lol) escaped the admin. assist. life, and I always hated that day. Performative lunch, card from the people I supported, and maaaybe a gift. Last year, I declined the lunch invitation and asked, for my “acknowledgment,” that they instead consider rolling the admins into the existing mentorship program available to literally everyone else. They said no, of course, but I tried ‍♀️

  31. AppleStan*

    I agree 100% that Administrative Professional’s Day is not the best way show our administrative team members that they are valued and appreciated.

    But, I work for a state government, and while administrative staff (finally) got a significant pay bump this year, they are still woefully underpaid for the work that they do. I can advocate for more money all I want to…I can show charts and graphs and how much it costs us to lose quality people every year…and if the legislature doesn’t approve it, these team members simply aren’t getting appropriate compensation.

    At the risk of being slammed by the commentariat…my current administrative team members love the flowers and lunch we do on Administrative Professional’s Day. I suggested doing something else on this day, and the feedback was particularly…vocal…about not changing a single thing about how we currently celebrate this day.

    But this isn’t the ONLY thing I do for them…

    I encourage them to explore other professional opportunities. I give these team members different responsibilities outside of their job descriptions to expand their skill sets for their resumes. I budget in time for additional training as part of their work day (as opposed to something they have to do on top of their regular 40 hour work week). I bend over backwards to be as flexible as I can on work scheduling for doctor’s appointments, family time, sickness, etc., so they don’t have to take leave if they can help it (most of them are in family situations where they have to hang on to every possible drop of leave they can for when big things come up…and they do come up). They are included on any accolades given about our office. When they’ve done something above-and-beyond…it’s not just an announcement to the team, my supervisor is cc’d and so is HR. Tokens of appreciation and acknowledgment of their contributions are given throughout the year…not just on this day.

    Honestly…these are minimal things…the basics for how we should be treating our administrative team members, not anything phenomenal. And yet, my peers seem to think this is above and beyond…all I can do is point out these are things that can help keep their teams happy…and don’t cost us anything…why WOULDN’T you do this?

    Anyway….I agree that Administrative Professional’s Day should be done away with. I love the idea of calling it Pay Your Admin More Day. Despite my feelings, as long as my administrative team wants to do our lunch and flowers…I’ll continue to do the lunch and flowers. And I’ll continue to fight for more pay and more recognition of just how valuable these team members are.

  32. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Who’s willing to bet Pay Your Admin More day would also devolve in “let’s give all women a $5 Starbucks gift card on some arbitrary day” day?

  33. Velomont*

    I’m a highly-paid guy in a large multi-national and, pre-Covid, I used to attend a lot of meetings which were organized by the admins and, in the cubicle farm where we sat, one of the admins sat across from the aisle from me. I found out that all but one were female, for whatever reason. And this I know – I would be absolutely incapable of doing what they do and keeping up, and I’m sure that they’re not paid that well. Their attention to detail and ability to think and organize on their feet must be quite astonishing in fact.

    1. Asenath*

      It’s very common for people not to understand what is involved in other people’s jobs.. Years ago, I knew a secretary who had all the organizational and problem-solving skills you’d expect in an experienced secretary. I admired her and her work enormously. Now, I am going to be vague for privacy reasons, but basically, an emergency situation arose in her personal life that required immediately tracking down a relative in a foreign country (this was before everyone had cell phones and email). She said she’d take care of it; one of her in laws said “What can you do? You’re just a secretary!” She went ahead, located the relative, and had him on his way home within a day or so. Secretaries are used to tracking people down, dealing with and getting information from other bureaucrats, and organizing travel and other events.

  34. Office Chinchilla*

    Last year, my company sent us a video where they decided to “thank us” by asking various people to make videos referring to their admins by other, more “fun” titles, like: “Mood Lifters, Rays of Sunshine, Heads of Optimism, Resilient Rockstars.” (Keep in mind this was during the pandemic.) This only reminded me of how, many years ago, this same company asked everyone to come up with their own job titles based on what they actually do. The example they used was “if you’re a receptionist, call yourself a Smile Dispenser!”

    My job title is NSFW.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      If someone asked me to refer to myself as a Smile Dispenser, I would never smile again at work, ever.

      1. OyHiOh*

        I would type up the famous quote by Shulamith Firestone about a smile boycott, graphic design the shit out of that, and post it prominently, in the most eye catching frame I could find.

  35. AmandatheAdmin*

    I’m going to have to disagree. I actually really appreciate the work I do being noticed and spoken of even if its just one day a year. It can be disheartening when the staff around me recieve accolades and awards for very specific SME work that I could never qualify for in my wildest dreams (nor do I exactly want to qualify for them). Hearing from them on how I support their work and how the every day admin work makes life even a little bit easier for them makes me extremely happy.

    Pay is a whole different issue, but its nice to have one day where my work is specifically praised.

    1. Amber Rose*

      On an individual basis, in some companies and in some circumstances, it can be nice. The issue is that systemically it’s used to emphasize how admins are not actually worth much more than a hand wave.

      More importantly, your company can and should notice and value your work without having a day set aside to remind them to treat you well. In fact, they should do it more than once a year. Your bar for good treatment seems pretty low.

    2. OyHiOh*

      Here’s what happens where I am: My organization loves/appreciates/respects my work on a daily basis. My governing board thinks I’m a marvel of organizational competency. However, when push comes to shove, they will wave off any concern I bring to the table because I’m “just” the admin. The organization’s staff know better, of course, but when the governing board waves me off, that sends clear signals as to how my position is treated.

      A Day where my work is “praised” does nothing to compensate for the hand waving attitude the rest of the time.

  36. anonforthis*

    Ironically, the fact Admin Day even exists is a symptom of the problem with how we treat admins. It’s like, instead of respecting admins by default in a material way, they can just stamp an “Admin Day” on the calendar accompanied by a stale breakfast and that’s that?

    It’s like how some people point to the existence of charities as characteristic of a good society, when in fact charities are a sign of a bad economy.

    1. Dinwar*

      What I’ve witnessed has been that companies that don’t recognize the importance of admins do the token effort you describe. Companies that do respect their admins show that all year long, and take the opportunity to put a little extra effort in. I think it started with kindly intent, but became a ritual devoid of its original purpose in far too many cases.

  37. Russell T*

    I was an admin for 25+ years. I started long enough ago that this was called “Secretary’s Day”. I am male, and the year I got my first admin job, a local newspaper ran an article about “male secretaries” and featured me! I always enjoyed admin’s day. Back then I worked for a huge financial services company. Stock brokers are not the most imaginative guys on earth; they gave the female admins each a 2 pound box of chocolates and a dozen roses. So, they gave me the same thing! I took it home and my husband said “What the hell is this?” I said “Hey, a group of men gave me flowers and candy and I didn’t even have to put out!”

  38. Meg G*

    I hate Administrative Professionals day, and primarily because of this story:

    One year I was an admin assistant filling in at a management office that was a level higher than I was getting paid for until they hired someone in (I didn’t volunteer for the role, I was told I’d be placed there until they found a replacement and the could return to my normal office). We always did a lunch for the admins every year, and I was usually amongst the attendees of the lunch. I didn’t realize the position I was filling in for actually scheduled and organized the lunch, and when the day came and the Section Manager found out I had “dropped the ball” she was furious and had no problem telling me how incompetent I must be. I ended up leaving the organization soon after, but I usually just ignore the day because it brings up the memory. Good riddance.

  39. radfordblue*

    Is there really reason to believe that administrative professionals are underpaid though? Is there something about these jobs that is distorting the normal flow of supply and demand?

    Administrative jobs largely exist to take administrative work away from more highly paid people, so those people can focus on work that adds more value to the company. Administrative work is important, to be sure, but it usually doesn’t require much education or specialized skills so the supply of potential workers is large.

    1. pope suburban*

      Besides the postings on jobs boards, you mean? This is a condescending and unhelpful take, and only feeds into the negative assumptions about the education, competence, and ability of the people who do the things that others think are beneath them.

      1. LilPinkSock*

        Thank you. I’m disgusted to read more and more comments here that underscore the idea that my work is of little value to my organization. Some of the people here absolutely hate admins, and it really shows on posts like this.

        1. radfordblue*

          What on earth did I say that makes you think I hate admins? Admin positions wouldn’t exist if they weren’t valuable.

          However it makes people feel, the economic reality is that positions with larger pools of potential workers will pay less than positions with smaller pools of potential workers. If the positions are really underpaid, then more people will leave and do something else and companies will be forced to pay more.

          1. WonderWoman*

            I think you don’t understand what admin professionals actually do. To say it doesn’t take much education or skills is, at best, inaccurate. I’m an EA with 10+ years experience and an advanced degree, and I can tell you that my support of my CEO and the executive team is an integral part of our success as a company. They feel that way as well, as does our Board. By suggesting that admins simply do “administrative work” (whatever you mean by that) so that the more senior people can do the “valuable” work is a blithely dismissive comment.

            1. LilPinkSock*

              Exactly. This is someone who, in their own words, dismisses an admin as someone with no education or specialized skills who does not do valuable work. I guess that’s the rationale to deny that as a group we’re often underpaid and overworked.

    2. Office Manager*

      If Indeed and ZipRecruiter are any indication, they seem to continue to be undervalued. Since the last recovery — 2011/2012, many companies use admins for every facet of operations and have folded in other specialized jobs into catchall “admin” roles. Administrative Assistants, in particular, ended up with the brunt of the overflow work from eliminated positions and departments. Most companies now want specialized skills, knowledge and experience on top of college (or, now, even graduate degrees) but are still hovering at or near minimum wage. At it’s best, most ads post around $15 – $20 to essentially manage day to day operations of a company or department, without giving people the title and commiserate pay.

      1. WonderWoman*

        A big issue is many people not understanding what admin professionals *actually do* so the job listings have titles and pay ranges that aren’t remotely accurate or appropriate. I’m an Executive Assistant with 10+ years experience and an advanced degree and I am (thankfully) well paid, and yet I see job listings in my area for EAs that pay less than half what I make and the job responsibilities are all over the place. These companies simply won’t (shouldn’t?) find people for those jobs at those pay ranges, but if people don’t respect the work and think anyone can do the job — “it’s just making copies” — then good luck to them. (I do know this isn’t remotely limited to admin support work – I’m gobsmacked by the job listings going around for all fields – companies really have no idea how to recruit & retain and pay appropriately, hence the Great Resignation….)

    3. Dinwar*

      I’ve worked in places with really efficient admin assistants, and in places with really bad ones. What I learned is that the admin assistant can make or break an office. It may not require as much education as some roles in our company, but the skillsets are just as specialized. And the potential supply of workers isn’t as big as you think. Sure, it’s easier to get into the job than, say, a senior VP position–but it’s much, much harder to STAY in the job than people think.

      As for what’s distorting the normal flow of supply and demand, I would suggest attitudes like this one. Undervaluing these positions leads to underpaying, and if enough people do that the position becomes underpaid because “That’s the market rate.” It’s a fairly common phenomenon–I’ve read articles about this in photography and maille jewelry, for example, and it’s a common enough discussion in regards to privilege and race/gender equality.

      1. radfordblue*

        ” Undervaluing these positions leads to underpaying, and if enough people do that the position becomes underpaid because “That’s the market rate.” ”

        But if the positions are getting filled, then that truly is the market rate and not “underpaid”. If no one is willing to take the job at a given pay rate, it’ll stay unfilled until the employer raises the rate or finds some other way to make the job more attractive.

        1. pope suburban*

          Your suggestion here is that because people may need some income, any income, there is nothing wrong with the market rate or the perception of an entire class of professional? That doesn’t seem like a very sound proposition. People don’t always take positions that allow them a comfortable living. They often take positions that will give them *something* with which to buy food or secure health care or pay rent albeit a week at a time/by juggling other bills and seeing who can be put off at the proper time. Like…there are *a lot* of people struggling out there, and I assure you, it’s not all by dint of sheer fecklessness or incompetence. We all ought to know the very real importance of cashiers, grocers, cleaners, and all the other aptly-named essential employees, but the fact remains that these jobs do not pay a living wage anywhere. Someone still has to do them, someone will still take them because not enough money is different than no money, but that doesn’t mean things are okay. This is a problem that goes well beyond admin professionals and it beggars belief that someone could actually, genuinely not know that at this point. There is a term called “sealioning” that keeps coming to mind here, and that is not a good thing.

        2. Eldritch Office Worker*

          If free market economic theory worked in labor agreements we wouldn’t need unions. Your argument is built on a fallacy.

    4. Asenath*

      Actually, in my former workplace, they were having trouble getting people to take admin positions. I don’t know if that’s still the case (COVID changes so much) but not so long ago they were asking retirees to come back on contract because they couldn’t find anyone qualified who would take the jobs full-time. There was certainly speculation among management that the pool of potential workers had declined drastically – most of them had been women, and women have far more options than in the past. Moreover, although I think insisting on university degrees for some admin positions doesn’t make a lot of sense, the skills required are greater than they used to be. Potential candidates need to be able to use several different software packages – and often pick up how to use specialized software on the job, instead of using only a typewriter. And there’s all the stuff that isn’t taught in university or community colleges – organizational skills, initiative (when to use it and how). and so on. Sure, the pay usually isn’t all that great, but the jobs I’m talking about paid a bit more than others, and came with decent benefits. And they were, pre-COVID, struggling to get good workers.

  40. J*

    Last year, the person I supported complained that I didn’t remind her enough to mail the card she’d gotten for me. I didn’t actually care about getting a card but I sure did care that she lectured me on her own incompetence and couldn’t even do the bare minimum just once.

    The best admin professional days were ones where my coworkers organized it themselves. I used to work at a satellite office from my team and one day they made sure to get a team member to deliver me donuts from a favorite spot and a card (with money!) and that goes down as especially beloved. It also funded an afternoon tea in Edinburgh the next week. As someone whose whole career is based around anticipating needs, planning ahead, making sure food or reports are delivered seamlessly, it felt nice that just once someone did the same back to me. I also hate social gatherings with other support staff since I tend to work remote so it was especially nice that it was customized to my personality. Even without the cash, it was just the kind of acknowledgement that showed they listened and knew me and didn’t just see me as the help.

  41. LifeBeforeCorona*

    My disdain for this day goes back to when it was known as Secretary’s Day. I was the lone clerk among all the secretaries and I was doing exactly the same work. On Secretary’s Day I got to stay behind and answer the phones while all the secretaries were taken out for lunch and flowers. One older male co-worker happened to see me sitting in a completely deserted office and asked why I was still there. I explained that I wasn’t a secretary and wasn’t invited. He returned a short time later with flowers for me. I still remember that kind gesture.

    1. WonderWoman*

      Your disdain is so understandable! That’s another wrinkle to this issue – it’s condescending to those who are admin professionals, insulting to those excluded (who should be included), and offensive to those included who aren’t admin professionals (but are women, so they’re lumped into the group – Alison has had posts about this phenomena before, ugh). It’s a professional landmine however it is “celebrated” — offices should just avoid it completely, and treat their employees with respect and better pay.

  42. JusttheAdmin*

    This doesn’t seem to be a thing in the UK. As someone who teaches the next generation of Administrative Assistants it almost makes me sad to hear them be excited about career prospects because the reality is that without an Administrative Team, most workplaces would simply cease to function and yet it is one of the most underrated and underpaid roles in the business world. The lack of professional development and promotion prospects is terrible. And we are looked down on by so many in senior management. I can’t tell you how often I have heard the words “oh, shes just the admin”.

  43. Dwight*

    We got laid off our receptionist at the beginning of lockdown. I think HR orders office supplies now, and the phone calls go directly to inside sales. Business is better than it’s ever been, so it’s not obvious how we’d benefit from bringing them back, though I don’t like answering more phone calls. While it was nice to have someone to take care of those odds and ends, telework has kind of made the this type of role less important, at least for us.

    1. Nessun*

      We cross-trained our receptionist to assist with other projects like AP and document finalization so we could ease the burden on admin who were WFH during the lockdown. Added benefit, easier coverage for future vacations or sick days.

      1. Dwight*

        Yeah we don’t have either of those anymore. Would be nice, but can’t really see the benefit anymore.

  44. Office Manager*

    I’ve never worked somewhere that recognized this in the U.S. I’m a little surprised to hear it’s so widespread.

  45. Snoozing not schmoozing*

    In some places, the junior non-admin staff are paid less than the admins. But those juniors still get the memo to wish the admins a Happy Admin Day and do something for them. Whut.

  46. Fleebers*

    I’ve always hated this day, and I’m just old enough to remember when it was still Secretaries’ Day. It’s so horribly demeaning. Fortunately it’s mostly phased out at my current org.

    That said, I met one of my friends on this day at Former Job. I’d been there a very short time when admin day rolled around, and of the four managers (and all their direct reports) that I supported, he was the only one who knew or cared what day it was. He asked if I’d like to go to lunch, his treat, and I said okay. We really hit it off and became good friends. He just didn’t see admins as less-than or unworthy, and he never treated me poorly, nor was he performative in taking care of the little lady on her special day. He was just a good person showing appreciation for a colleague.

    He’s the only one, though. How much do I wish I could have stuck to my pre-grad-school goal of never working another admin job again. My family needed the money and benefits, and then I was trapped, and I still am.

    1. Office Chinchilla*

      It really is a trap, isn’t it? I spent years as a temp because I didn’t want to get trapped (I have “creative aspirations”) and I was only offered jobs I didn’t want, and then I needed surgery so I took the job and here I am, 8 years later.

    2. Calibri Hater*

      I have also been trapped in several admin jobs over the years. Finally leaving, and NEVER AGAIN. It just doesn’t work with my personality or high drive, at all.

  47. Candice*

    It was April 2020, and I had been in a new job for three months at a swanky professional finance office. The gift? A roll of toilet paper with some weird-supposed-to-be-funny ‘ration in the time of Covid’ message, and a glass jar of Covid chill pills aka starbursts. I have no doubt that the office manager picked this out but I was (silently) livid. I didn’t say anything because I don’t give two sh*ts about getting gifts and I was new. But I was insulted at the idea that they would recognize my colleagues and my professional work in this manner. If you wouldn’t give it to someone in a senior position, don’t give it to your coworkers!

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      That’s an excellent point. If you wouldn’t gift senior level staff toilet paper and dollar store candy why would you give it to anyone?

  48. WonderWoman*

    As a 10+ year Executive Assistant, I am thrilled to say I NEVER need to be acknowledged on that day because I am treated with a lot of respect and I am paid well. My executives never remember Admin Professionals Day or my work anniversary and I don’t care AT ALL because, again, I love my job and I am treated really really well. They show their appreciation through the way I am treated on a daily basis. Isn’t that what everyone wants (and deserves) in their job?

    1. WonderWoman*

      I have been to a number of EA conferences (and read all the comments above, as well) to know that my experience is rare, sadly, and many admin support professionals are treated with disrespect, disdain, abuse, and pathetic pay. It’s really horrible, and flowers and chocolates once a year won’t make the slightest bit of difference. :(

  49. DJ*

    Workplaces really don’t value what admin staff do. They ensure the section runs smoothly and do such tasks so that other staff can concentrate on their roles. But often the work goes unnoticed until it’s not done. Sadly organisations are quick to eliminate such positions but the work still needs to be done. So then it gets placed onto someone else then that position is abolished and the work gets shifted again. It leaves the impacted staff member out of work with skills that are not valued (even though extremely important). That staff member may have studied for years to obtain other qualifications but now lack experience in their field. I’ve been there myself.
    With the current skills shortages we hear of calls for more professionally qualified staff e.g. teaching, nursing etc etc. Yet it can take years to train up such people. But yet no mention of the need for admin or support staff nor how much of these professionals time is taken up with admin duties. Employing more admin would help the situation as it would free up existing professional staff. Depending on the type of work needing to be done it’s a great opportunity to train up those with disability/health problems, older/younger workers, sole parents, newly arrived immigrants to get them into the workforce.

  50. Martha*

    In my last role I had a manager (at least 20 years younger than me) who wanted to know what my duties and quals were. I outlined my duties, quals and past experience. I advised that part of the role had always been admin but had grown with the growth of the team and I was concerned about this as I wanted to continue using my quals and also concerned about the lack of value placed on admin skills and wished to be competitive. I also pointed out that I’d started studying a 2nd degree where I’d incurred income loss and debt to do so.* The second conversation was around her feeling I should do the admin and treat it as “business”. My response I was expected to have a lot of non admin quals/experience to get the job, why would I incur income loss and debt to obtain a new non admin degree to do admin work especially as it’s not valued. I should have said “no doubt you support the advancement of women but you’re happy to hold me back”. Really sad women who claim they support the advancement of other women behave like privledged white men towards their admin.
    *I didn’t finish my 2nd degree as I got cancer with a high chance of it coming back however in Aust super remains inaccessible in those circumstances if under preservation age thus I needed to work full time to save money for that eventuality and this job came along. Thankfully 13 1/2 years later it hasn’t come back.

  51. Short Timer's Disease*

    Thank you for this, and for some of the other discussion here. I’m technically an administrative assistant, but what I really do is NOT administrative assistant work, yet I am unable to break out of that role. I do bookkeeping, help draft legal documents, research and complete registrations for doing business in other states including professional licensing, which all takes an extreme amount of knowledge and skill that no other admin here would be able to cover. It would be done by the controller or HR if I weren’t doing it.

    I’m about to be away for 6 weeks and I’m wondering if there will be any kind of realization when they try to cover my various duties that it’s not really admin work.

  52. FACS*

    My office has a “dumb holidays” lunch every year. We fold together doctor’s day, administrative professionals day, and nurse’s day. We order a fancy lunch (last year was lobster rolls) with the office picking up the tab. Then we goof off for 2 hours. The office manager is paid well, 100% of health insurance, retirement. She is worth her weight in gold! Great admins are awesome.

  53. Woman - hear me roar*

    Stop it altogether. It will please some but offend others. It’s exclusionary and divisive. In fact, the same for all such ‘days’. They mean nothing except “let’s pretend these people mean something for one day and we can forget about them for the rest of the year”.

  54. Despachito*

    I find it particularly insulting in various spheres of life to pay lip service to someone instead of truly acknowledging their work. I consider it even worse than doing nothing.

    This is why I always hated if women were giving flowers and/or expensive gifts but were basically treated as inferior beings (and were assumed to be happy). It is like putting a bandaid over a purulent wound – it superficially masks a much deeper problem. And this “admins’ day” (which is not a thing here, thank God) seems to me exactly like this.

  55. Testerbert*

    I think all Appreciation Day are a cop-out. Why bother actually recognising, rewarding and celebrating someone/something/somewhere all year around? You can just pay lip service for a single day and go back to thoroughly mistreating that person/thing/place for the remaining 364 1/4 days of the year.

    Want to appreciate your staff? Pay them well, listen to their concerns, and consider their wishes when making decisions all year round.

    1. Catmomma71*

      Here, talk is so cheap. The double talk, jerkyl/hyde types, and the worst is no communication. Heck, i have to do the phone list but I’m not told who has is no longer here. HR here is a JOKE, they communicate nothing who is new here. They aren’t introduced, nothing.

  56. CatPerson*

    On the flip side, we had an admin who was…terrible. And we were forced to shower her with praise and slobber all over her on that day when she could barely be bothered to give us help when needed. Same as boss’s day when you have a terrible boss. Admin assistants don’t necessarily do more and better than other workers, and I resented having to participate in singling them out. Reward good performance–that’s not a “day”.

  57. Admin things*

    I am going to be an oddball and say I didn’t mind it. I usually got some gifts from the staff I supported. Like flowers, nice notes and gift cards. I supported a huge department and these people literally had no control over my salary and it was nice to be recognized by them. And yes they regularly said thank you to me thru out the year.

  58. Sophie K*

    I mean, it could be worse. I don’t even get lunch, because my employer didn’t bother to ask if anyone had dietary restrictions before placing a catering order. (Unsurprising, as they have never once asked about allergies/dietary restrictions in relation to any food brought into the office ever). When I asked about it, the answer was basically, “Nope, nothing for you, sorry!” And literally no offer to make any sort of accommodation. So I’m sure you can imagine I’m feeling extremely appreciated and valued right about now.

    I’m not delicate flower, and I’ll be fine bringing my own lunch just like I do everyday, but it did kind of feel like a slap in the face when they have VERY recently put me in particular through the ringer because of their inability/disinclination to hire sufficient support staff for the work that needs doing. (Think: “You’re smart and capable, just do two people’s jobs but somehow make it fit into the same 40 hours. Oh, you can’t do that? You’re literally sick from the stress and anxiety? Sadly there’s nothing we can do. I’m sure you’ll figure it out.” They walked it back like half a day before I was going to surrender and quit for my health.)

    Yeah, there are bigger problems than lunch. But given all of the above, it feels a little insensitive to not even try. Anyway! Just found out our office manager (who is a genuinely nice and reasonable person at the mercy of the partners’ terrible management decisions) put in her notice. And I’m planning to follow her right out the door. At least now I can ask her to be a reference!

  59. Mary Tipps*

    So many complaints here about being underpaid, underappreciated, and generally treated in unprofessional ways (such as being expected to handle personal errands and such for the bosses) and I get it. I worked for a couple different bosses who behaved as though I should be glad to listen to their foul mouths and ask, “Thank you, Sir, may I have another?” when they doled out some horrid task like setting up their new tablet (I didn’t have one of my own and had zero idea how to set it up – he told me he was sure I could figure it out) or scheduling their healthcare. I remember feeling demeaned.

    So here’s my question to all of you. I am now a CEO at a nonprofit organization. I hope my staff never, never feels undervalued or demeaned. On that note, I was going to leave my front office supervisor a card and gift tomorrow for Administrative Professionals’ Day – but I hear y’all saying that the lunches, flowers, cards and gifts are not helping you feel appreciated at all. So do I skip it? Is the holiday, in and of itself, a problem? Will she feel upset if she comes to work to flowers and chocolate? Or will she feel unhappy if she comes in and no one bothered to recognize her at all? I am now feeling totally adrift in what used to be a simple decision . . . to thank or not to thank???

    1. Cheshire Grin*

      Speaking for myself, I was usually fine with the small gift. I knew which bosses where just the “Oh yeah, it’s that day again” and which ones really appreciated the work I did for them. I would go with the gift as it sounds like you value your staff and no one would accuse you of the “token gift”. Thanks for being a caring CEO.

  60. Catmomma71*

    I didn’t realize it was admin’s day until I got a text from one of our instructors. I thought that was so sweet and he’s out on medical leave.

    I was a temp for almost 4 months before i got hired here. We were all sent a “review yourself for annual review.” I filled out it. But 2 months later, i wasn’t on their payroll, even though i was a temp. So I got looked over and have to wait til next year for a review. Most got a lousy 3% raise. President buys cases of wine to sell for more $$, keeps it in his office, brushes teeth in our cafe, swings his golf club anywhere, bounces small balls off walls, acts like a teenager and brags about his vacations as others get new vehicles/bikes. The double talk around here… Communication is terrible here and I’m always caught in the middle. I even use my personal club cards to order supplies to save them $$. I sometimes have sung quietly at my desk and told not to, I’m not professional I’m told at times. I wanted to do something nice for employees for turkey day so I sent out an email so we can bring in something . I got my butt reamed out. I’ve got embarrassed in front of customers when i ordered lunch and another employee helped himself (being the VP son in law) but I got crabbed at. He asked if I was feeding employees, I said no. But he doesn’t say anything to son in law who helped himself to the food. Not many are happy here anyways. Executives bragging about their purchases, showing off in front of the rest of us. The president is a huge teenager who endulges himself while shoving it in our faces as another has split personalities.

  61. Heather*

    I am a manager and still get thanked on Admin Professionals Day. I find it extremely demoralizing. No matter how much I move up, as a female in an office I’m still not viewed on the same level as the other managers.

  62. Tiffany Shipp*

    Admin Professionals Day has caused unnecessary work drama all week and I’m over it. Basically there are admins in a variety of roles and departments. My department has two admins (including me) and the supervisors straight up forgot. No big deal, but my coworker who has been here many years is very upset after seeing the food, flowers, and cards given by some of the other admins.

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