Action Required: Mark your calendar for April 21, 2021 – Administrative Professionals Day.


Ten years ago, I didn’t know Administrative Professionals Day was even an official “thing”.  But since finding out, I’ve celebrated it BIG TIME every year.


Why?  Because I know this much to be true. Without all the many, talented administrative roles and professionals in world of work, the global economy would not be what it is today.


Too often, in board rooms and the media, CEOs and other high ranking officials receive the accolades and glory.  But for 100% of an organization’s wins, there is one or a team of administrative professionals without whom such success would be impossible.


That is why Administrative Professionals Day has become so important to me, and why it should be to you as well (if it isn’t already).


It’s a day for us to publicly and privately honor those who deserve so much more every day.


The History of Administrative Professionals Day.

The holiday has been around since 1942.


At that time, the National Secretaries Association, with the support of a number of high ranking US government officials, declared the first of week of June as National Secretaries Week


This moment in history was significant for several reasons, including the fact that there was a serious shortage of administrative professionals.  


National Secretaries Week was created to acknowledge how instrumental the role was to supporting commerce as well as to attract new workers to the field.


Over the years, the title of the celebration and the calendar timing has continued to evolve. 


Now, the US generally marks the occasion on Wednesday of the last full week in April and the holiday is now titled Administrative Professionals Day to acknowledge the broader types of roles, positions and job titles to be celebrated.


The one thing that has remained consistent since conception is the purpose of the day. 


Administrative Professionals Day is the opportunity to recognize and celebrate all of the work that administrative team members do on behalf of companies, teams, co-workers, employers and customers.


Administrative professionals, whether they work in the front or back office, are usually the backbone of the organization. 


They keep their ears to the ground, know what is happening even before senior management and their bosses, and are often the best stewards of an organization’s culture.

Interesting Fact: US, Canada, Hong Kong and Malaysia all celebrate annually on the Wednesday of the last full week of April. New Zealand celebrates on the third Wednesday in April.  And the Netherlands, Belgium and France celebrate on the third Thursday of April.

Who Are Administrative Professionals?

The International Association of Administrative Professionals defines administrative professionals as individuals responsible for administrative tasks and coordination of information in support of an office related environment.


Therefore, Administrative Professionals Day generally recognizes the work of all positions that provide administrative support.  While it is impossible to provide a complete list, some of the more common jobs include:


  • secretaries
  • administrative assistants
  • executive assistants
  • personal assistants
  • virtual assistants
  • receptionists
  • bill and account collectors
  • office managers
  • client service representatives 


Quick & Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Your Administrative Team Members.

Showing your gratitude and appreciation does not have to be complicated.  In fact, I always believe that a simple recognition is often more genuine than a lot of pomp and circumstance.


With that in mind, here are five simple but meaningful ideas on how to celebrate Administrative Professionals Day this year.


And all can be done in-person or virtually.


1.    Say Thank You


It’s simple, inexpensive and is usually extremely meaningful – more so than anything that can be store bought. 


Find a unique way to tell your team member how much you appreciate them. 


A hand written note, a phone call, a video call – these are all professional yet intimate ways to communicate your appreciation. 


And if you are also able to comment on one or two specific instances that stand out amongst their work for you, that would be like a cherry on top.


2.    Give A Public Shout Out On Social Media (#AdminProfessionalsDay)


If your administrative team member is the kind that would appreciate public recognition, then put a brief post on your organization’s intranet or public social media platforms. 


Don’t forget to tag your team member and use the official holiday hashtag.


3.    Team Gift & Sticky Notes


If the entire team wants to show their appreciation, you could:


      Contribute to a team gift; I suggest a giving a gift that aligns with your admins’ values, interests or hobbies, rather than something related to work. 

For example, last year I got my admin a 3 month Peloton subscription. 


It was at the start of quarantine and she was really missing her daily gym workouts.


The Peloton subscription was something that she would never have purchased for herself, but she was extremely grateful and used it every day.


       Amplify the day or week by having each team member write an independent note of thank you or share a special memory they have about your admin.


Then, as a group, you could time the distribution of the individual notes over the course of the day or week so that your admin receives an ongoing stream of written appreciation.


Each one received will be a surprise and could also be a keepsake.


4.    Time Off


If you’re administrative team member is a tireless worker, then giving them a half or full day of unofficial time off (which is not deducted from their accrued paid time off account) would go a long way. 


This could be your way of insisting that they take time to take care of themselves, just like they always take care of you and your team.


5.    Professional Development Investment


Administrative professionals, just like most of us in the work world, have aspirations to learn, grow and continually develop. 


One way to show appreciation is to ensure that your administrative team member has a development plan.


And if the budget allows, you could also invest in a course or experience for them.



Final thoughts.


On more than a few occasions throughout my career, my administrative team member saved my hide. 


With minor situations like helping me avoid cold calls that would be extremely time consuming and add no value. To major things like sharing very important information from credible sources that helped me retain a highly influential client or prevent a major disaster within the company.


It’s important to recognize that because so much of an administrative professional’s role is to provide support, what they do on behalf of the organization is visible to many. 


Yet there is so much of their role that we don’t see which keeps the “ship” moving on a day to day basis.  It could be easy to take for granted because it just gets done.


I am extremely grateful for ALL that administrative professionals do – seen and unseen.  


We all should be.


So, let’s be certain to celebrate them on Administrative Professionals Day and every day throughout the year.

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