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A Robert Half Company RECOGNIZE RESULTS Drive Success Through Employee Recognition

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  • A Robert Half Company

    RECOGNIZERESULTSDrive Success Through Employee Recognition

  • TAble of ConTenTs


    HOW RECOGNITION AFFECTS THE BOTTOM LINE...........................2

    LETS NOT DO LUNCH...................4

    THE POWER OF PRAISE........................7

    SEVEN KEY TAKEAWAYS.......................8

    A FINAL WORD.....................11

    SURVEY METHODOLOGY...............................................12

    ABOUT IAAP.............................................................12

    ABOUT OFFICETEAM.........................................13

  • 1.800.804.8367 1

    oveRview In the current economic climate, you may feel that even Bagel Mondays are an expense you cant afford, much less a costly employee recognition program.

    But new research from OfficeTeam and the International Association of Administrative Profes-sionals (IAAP) shows a lack of employee recognition carries its own cost both in terms of morale and your companys bottom line.

    The good news? Recognition doesnt have to be expensive to be effective. In fact, the types of recognition administrative professionals seek may surprise you.

    This report includes research compiled from surveys of both managers and career-minded support staff. It shows why recognizing your employees is so important and provides insight into the rewards your administrative staff value most. Also included are tips for strengthening your firms recognition programs.

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    How ReCoGniTion AffeCTs THe boTToM line Results from the survey of administrative professionals are clear: Support staff place a high priority on a companys employee recognition efforts. In fact, receiving the proper recognition factors heavily into their decision to join and remain with a company.

    More than 70 percent of respondents said an organizations recognition programs would factor into their decision to accept employment with that firm. Perhaps even more telling, two-thirds of administrative professionals said they would be very likely or somewhat likely to leave their current position if they did not feel appreciated by their manager.

    Administrative professionals were asked, How likely is it that you would leave your current position if you did not feel

    appreciated by your manager?

    source: officeTeam and iAAP survey of 549 administrative professionals

    Very likely

    Somewhat likely

    Not very likely

    Not likely at all





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    source: officeTeam and iAAP survey of 549 administrative professionals

    Administrative professionals were asked, What effect, if any, does receiving recogni-tion have on your work performance?

    Greatly improves performance

    Improves performance somewhat

    Has no effect on performance

    Performance worsens





    Virtually the same proportion of respondents (67 percent) said receiving recognition greatly or somewhat improves their job performance.

    No business can stand to lose talented, resourceful people at any time, but retention is particularly important in a difficult economy, when resources are

    already lean. There are serious bottom-line implications if employee morale and productivity diminish.

    It is a challenge to quickly find suitable replacements to step into key administrative positions suddenly left vacant, especially executive and senior assistant roles. The training

    required can be costly and time-consuming. According to the 2008 Employment Dynamics and Growth Expectations (EDGE) Report from Robert Half International and,

    recruiting a new administrative staff member takes 4.5 weeks, on average. Can you afford to lose your right hand person for more than a month?

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    leTs noT Do lunCHEmployers are aware of the relationship between recognition and productivity: Nearly all managers surveyed said employee recognition efforts improve the work performance of administrative professionals. Still, not all managers have been effective at putting this knowledge into practice. One-third of support staff surveyed said they do not receive sufficient recognition throughout the year.

    How could this be? After all, chances are your firm invests in employee recogni-tion initiatives. The surveys show its probably the result of miscommunication rather than lack of effort. According to the research, there is often a dis-connect between the kind of recognition support staff feel is meaningful and what is provided by management.

    For example, taking your assistant out to lunch is a common reward, and, although a support professional is likely to appreciate the gesture, he or she probably considers other forms of rec-ognition more valuable. According to the survey, employees prefer praise, as well as company-sponsored professional memberships and attendance at professional confer-ences or seminars.

  • 1.800.804.8367 5


    Boss relates your achievement to senior management 4.47 4.19In-person thank-you 4.47 4.16Promotion 4.46 4.45Membership to a professional association 4.32 2.45Registration for a conference or seminar 4.29 2.63Paid time off 4.21 4.26Handwritten personal thank-you 4.07 3.74Cash 3.99 4.27Recognition at staff meeting/in company newsletter 3.85 3.83Award nomination 3.76 3.51Recognition on Administrative Professionals Day 3.74 3.22Gift cards 3.67 3.99E-mailed personal thank-you 3.58 3.25Lunch 3.08 3.67

    When both support staff and managers were asked about the relative value of various forms of recognition, their responses did not always align. As a result, employers should periodically step back and evaluate whether they are getting real value from their recognition efforts. What do administrative professionals want in terms of recognition, and are you meeting those needs?

    What Support Staff Want vs. What Managers Think They WantAdministrative professionals were asked, On a one-to-five scale, how much do you value the following types of recognition? Managers were asked, What forms of recognition do you believe administrative professionals value most?

    source: officeTeam and iAAP surveys of 549 administrative professionals and 300 managers. Respondents rated each type of reward on a one-to-five scale, one being not valued and five being highly valued. The mean responses are listed. lines highlighted green indicate areas on which support staff and employers disagree the most.

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    Stuck in the MiddleCompany size seems to affect managers assessments of whether their recognition programs are effective or not. More respondents from small and large companies than from midsize firms thought their programs were beneficial. This may be because managers in smaller firms have more opportunities to interact on an individual level with employees, and larger companies often have formal programs in place. For midsize companies, which fall somewhere in between, there are still cost-effective ways of acknowledging the contribu-tions of support staff. These include handwritten or per-sonally delivered thank-yous, as well as the recognition administrative professionals rated highest of all: a supervisor who communicates their achievements to upper management.

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    THe PoweR of PRAise As a manager, you may feel like your hands are tied: You understand the value of recogniz-ing your team, but with budgets and resources tight, your options for doing so are limited. However, many of the rewards administrative professionals rated highest did not involve money. Cash, for example, was far down the list.

    Most forms of recognition ranked highly by administrative professionals are cost-effective. Top responses included an in-person thank-you or communicating an administrators achievements to upper management.

    One professionals comment may best sum up the power of praise: Simple recognition on a frequent basis keeps me going far more than anything else.

    I Can Always Count On You.

    Praise can mean a great deal to administrative professionals. Support staff

    in the survey cited comments from their bosses that they prized the most:

    You went beyond the expectations of the customers and didnt pass the buck.

    Your contributions have kept the company afloat, especially during this economic downturn.

    Thanks for a job well done. I couldnt have done it without your able assistance.

    I wouldnt be where I am today without you.

    You are the name and face of our company.

    You are an excellent communicator with the ability to see the bigger picture and what needs to be done.

    You are a sponge willing to learn and absorb new things.

    You are trusted to provide advice to support staff anywhere in the organization.

  • 1.800.804.8367 8

    Administrative professionals were asked, How do you feel about the amount of recognition you receive throughout the year?

    source: officeTeam and iAAP survey of 549 administrative professionals

    I receive plenty of recognition

    I receive a fair amount of recognition

    I dont receive enough recognition

    I never receive recognition





    seven KeY TAKeAwAYs So what can you take away from this research? The following tips can help ensure your recog-nition efforts have a positive impact on your administrative team:

    1. Dont take your workers for granted. Although many administrative professionals may feel fortunate to have a stable position, this doesnt mean managers can safely ignore their needs for positive recognition and career support. Remember that your most talented employees always have options. Good people are market-able in any economy, and you want your best performers to be on board when your firm begins to grow again.

    2. Be specific in your praise. Support staff want managers to be specific when giving recognition. Fifty-five percent of respondents said the feedback they receive is merely somewhat specific or not very specific. With 15 percent in the latter category, managers still have a ways to go in this regard. Clearly tie recognition back to employees accomplishments, and dont wait youll forget the details they consider important.

    3. Challenge your support staff. Administrative profes-sionals want to be recognized for their work, but not just any work. Challenging assignments and a feeling of accomplishment/satisfaction were top responses when administrative staff were asked which factors motivate them to do a good job. Offer your team attainable career paths and work with them to develop professional goals that stretch their abilities.

  • 1.800.804.8367 9

    4. Dont under- or overdo it. Forty-two percent of support staff said their supervisor fails to recognize them even on Administrative Professionals Day. And one in three respondents reported that they do not receive enough recognition throughout the year. Never acknowledging your employees efforts is a definite mistake, but doing so just once or twice a year is nearly as harmful. Administrative professionals dont expect to be showered with constant praise after all, even the nicest compliments seem insincere when given too often but they do expect to receive it when warranted. Fifty percent said they prefer occasional recognition gestures when I ac-complish something that exceeds expectations, but not every time.

    5. Tell your own boss. Its important to let senior management know when an employee has performed especially well. Support staff in the survey rated supervisor communicates my achievements to upper management as the most valuable form of recognition.

    6. Customize rewards. Twenty-five percent of managers surveyed said they never ask employees if they are satisfied with the recognition they receive. The percentage is highest for small companies. The message here is simple: You should take the initiative and learn what forms of acknowledgment employees value. Then, try to offer it in a way that is truly meaningful to them. Find out by asking staff directly during regularly scheduled touch-base meetings or perfor-mance reviews. Anonymous informal surveys also can be useful.

    7. Remember, recognition can be a recruitment tool. With more than 70 percent of support staff saying an organizations recognition programs would factor into their decision to accept employment with that firm, you should assess how you are currently sharing information about these efforts.

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    Cost-Effective Ideas for Recognizing Administrative Professionals Make a member of your administrative staff employee of the month.

    Although these honors are often reserved for sales or customer service staff, your assistant regularly goes above and beyond the call of duty.

    Share a message sent by a customer or other stakeholder praising your assistants work.

    Give office support staff a subscription to an industry trade publication, such as OfficePro.

    Ask your assistant to help a colleague get started with a project or solve a particularly difficult problem.

    Implement a solution throughout the organiza-tion that your assistant recommended and give him or her credit.

    Find additional tips in OfficeTeams 25 Ways to Recognize Results. Request a free copy at 1.800.804.8367.

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    A finAl woRD If youre like most managers, youre constantly concerned about properly rewarding your employees for their hard work, especially in todays tough times. The fact that two-thirds of support staff said recognition greatly or to some degree improves their on-the-job performance gives managers a solid, bottom-line reason to continue to invest in these initiatives.

    Our research indicates that a little recognition as long as its the right type can go a long way. The key is to make sure you remain aware of the rewards administrative professionals value most. Offering what they consider most meaningful is, for the most part, affordable and easy to do. And more than half of support staff said, of all the praise they receive, they value accolades from their supervisors the most. Your employees are telling you a more satisfied and productive team is within your reach.

    To learn more from administrative professionals and their managers about how recognition has helped support staff become more effective in their jobs, visit

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    suRveY MeTHoDoloGYOfficeTeam partnered with an independent research firm to conduct the online manager survey, which included 300 individuals at U.S. companies who directly or indirectly manage an administrative professional. OfficeTeam partnered with IAAP to conduct the online survey of 549 career-minded administrative professionals within the association and living in the U.S. or Canada.

    AbouT iAAPThe International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) is the worlds largest association for administrative support staff, with more than 550 chapters and 40,000 members and affiliates worldwide. For more than 60 years, IAAP has provided up-to-date re-search on office trends, cutting-edge publications, outstanding seminars and conferences, leadership development, global networking opportunities, and top-notch resources to help administrative professionals enhance their skills and become more effective contributors to their employers. For more information, please visit or call 1.816.891.6600.

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    AbouT offiCeTeAMOfficeTeam is the worlds leading staffing service specializing in the temporary placement of highly skilled office and administrative support professionals, ranging from executive and administrative assistants to receptionists and customer service representatives. Throughout the year, we compile data, trends and insights we uncover through our daily contact with clients and candidates, and our extensive research on employment and workplace issues. We offer this information in the form of complimentary guides, articles and other mate-rials. We have more than 325 offices worldwide and offer online job search services and career resources at Please call 1.800.804.8367 for the office nearest you.

  • 2009 officeTeam. An equal opportunity employer. oT-0509-2326All referenced trademarks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.

    1.800.804.8367 officeteam.comA Robert Half Company

    Table of ContentsOverview How Recognition Affects The Bottom Line Lets Not Do LunchThe Power of PraisE Seven Key Takeaways A Final Word Survey MethodologyAbout IAAPAbout OfficeTeam