Wednesday, April 25th, was Administrative Professionals Day and was the 60th time this unofficial holiday was celebrated in the United States. According to the International Association of Administrative Professionals the theme of this year’s Admin Day is “Admins, the pulse of the office.” They say that admins have been a “steady center of efficiency” throughout all the shifts in the economy and in our culture, keeping businesses going and acting as a gatekeeper for customers, clients, and employees.
My official job title is Chief Assistant or Executive Assistant, depending on who you ask. Unofficially, I’m the chick who sits outside the Branch Chief’s office at a giant desk, takes attendance, inputs civilian time cards, issues vendor pay IDs, formats memorandums, prepares supply orders, and sometimes orders Chinese food for the office among other things. This is the easiest job I’ve had in my life and definitely qualifies as an administrative position, which I’ve had in the past as well. This is the first year that someone has thought to acknowledge me on this day; a few people in the office were nice enough to get together and buy me some balloons to keep at my desk today!
First off, I’m not complaining about the balloons at all; it was seriously sweet of them to think of me and I both appreciate the gesture and the fact that it made Tubberpottimus angry since she got nothing today. That being said, it’s such a weird thing for me to wrap my mind around that there is a day celebrating my current line of work. I understand Mother’s and Father’s Day to an extent, mainly because it’s a time for kids to do fun projects and say thank you to the adults who have to put up with their nonsense (love you, peanut) and I understand a day for teachers, grandparents, and other days where it’s family oriented or something fun for kids to do for the adults who help and guide them. What I don’t get is why administrators/secretaries need a day of their own.
The job I held before this was titled as “Front Desk” and I was later promoted to “Front Desk Manager” over the other front desk ladies, but it was basically an administrative position with piles and piles of work. It was tough, it kicked my ass most days, but honestly it wasn’t as if I was doing something truly amazing and better than any other competent employed person out there. I try to excel at every job I hold but that is for personal reasons and not for public recognition outside of my boss taking notice and giving me a raise or promotion. I feel as though this holiday was created because secretaries feel inadequate and unappreciated and decided to give themselves a holiday so they could feel special.
I’m not saying that administrative jobs are not important; indeed many businesses would suffer if the position sat unfilled or did not exist. I do wonder though what makes administrators so special that they need a day of acknowledgement and praise for doing the job they are paid to do. The people in the office who threw together to buy balloons are people that I know actually do appreciate me and thank me for doing various things on a regular basis. THAT is what should matter and THAT is what people should strive to attain and be happy with. Making a holiday to celebrate administrators makes employers feel obligated to praise this person regardless of whether or not they earned it.
What I would enjoy is seeing this holiday fade into obscurity. A job is a job and no one should be praised over others to the extent that it is given a holiday. I think someone in our IT department in my office mentioned an IT appreciation day once, but it’s not as wildly recognized as admin day is and as a result, the people that keep our equipment and programs functioning don’t get a day of balloons and thank you’s. We don’t have a day where we buy our bosses gifts as a thank you for employing us (at least we shouldn’t) or give our janitors gift cards for emptying our trash and cleaning our toilets once a year. If you appreciate a coworker or employee, let them know and don’t make it an obligation based on a holiday someone decided has merit.
Again, I appreciate my coworkers who got me the balloons and I think they’re sweet as pie for doing so. But again, they thank me year round. Admin day shouldn’t be “buy your secretary flowers day because you feel guilty that it’s admin day and you HAVE to get her something.” It shouldn’t be a day, period. Appreciate your coworkers and employees year-round by acknowledging their good work and giving them a thank you, buying the office lunch once in a while, or letting them go early without penalty on Friday. And for you administrators who LOVE this holiday, start letting the year round appreciation be enough for you and just be happy you’re getting a paycheck. You don’t need a holiday.