The Dos and Don'ts of Admin Appreciation

by Jason Satterwhite

Let’s imagine for a moment that your workplace is hosting a professional development course, and the keynote speaker is… wait for it… Mr. Jesus of Nazareth. I suppose that’s not too far-fetched, in that He may have done that kind of thing back in His carpenter days. Anyhoo, during the powerpoint presentation, the King of Kings reaches the slide about Employee Care, and guess what it says:

“Do unto others…”.

Not only is this a great rule of thumb for life in general, but it also applies to many situations in your work life. One of these instances, according to the powerpoint, is Administrative Professional Day. It’s a work celebration that should be planned conscientiously, as it can result in a major boost of self-esteem or a collar-venting plane crash of awkwardness. The main thing to keep in mind when planning for Administrative Professional Day is to keep things simple and heartfelt. Just think of how you might want to be celebrated for your work efforts. To get you started brainstorming, here are some basic Dos and Don’ts to help you celebrate the administrative staff at your workplace in both fun and appropriate ways.

DON’T: Give them office supplies.

Every spouse knows or at least should know, not to get their husband or wife cleaning tools as a birthday gift.  It’s rule number 7 in the handbook: No vacuums or ironing boards unless explicitly requested. The same general rules should apply to administrative staff: it’s not the best move to give an administrative professional an organizer on their big day. However, it may actually be the best move if you’re trying to find out what their fake smile looks like.

DO: Put yourself in their shoes.

Think of a creative way to show that you appreciate the work that they do. You can spend the morning doing tasks for them that they generally do for others in the office (answer the phones, brew the coffee, take meeting notes, etc). Or it can be in the form of a trophy from Goodwill with a new label taped on reading “Admin of the Year”. Celebrate their hard work by showing them you know how time-consuming and valuable it really is.

DON’T: Buy expensive flowers.

Gifting flowers to your administrative staff is a nice gesture but could be misconstrued. Especially the succulent variety of plants, because that just sounds awkward to tell to their family and friends. In fact, don’t buy anything expensive or over the top. Instead, save the cash you’d spend on nice gifts for a succulent Christmas bonus.

DO: Be more thoughtful than generous.

A thoughtful gift is often cheaper, more impactful and more appropriate than a lavish gift. In fact, sometimes a heartfelt “thank you” card can have the most impact. In this case, it’s not the thought that counts, rather it’s the way that you express the thoughts. Make a list of attributes that they’ve displayed that reflect the company’s vision or excellence. Or let your admin staff know about specific times in the last year where their effort made a big difference.

DON’T: Talk about the employee’s future.

Conflating Administrative professional day and annual employee review meetings is usually a mistake. In fact, you can spend the whole day focusing simply on the past and present and not even mention what’s to come. This day is not about negotiating the future, it’s about sharing appreciation. OK, my bad. Rant over.

DO: Keep it Consistent.

How you treat your employees on a daily basis is more important than how you treat your employees on any particular day. Being that you’ve read this to the last paragraph, the chances are high that you’re already considerate of the administrative professionals in your work environment. Good on you! Keep it up and you’ll never need a special day for your coworkers to know you appreciate them.


Posted in Career Tips