As the economy recovers, companies are increasing their hiring efforts, and at The Execu|Search Group, we’re experiencing a not-surprising uptick in staffing needs from new and existing clients across the board. However, converse to expectations, one type of employee approaches us with increasing frequency: currently employed executive assistants.
“When the economy collapsed, employees who worked on the administrative level were the first ones to be let go. Unfortunately, although we are in a state of recovery, budgets for administrative staff still remain low,” comments Kim Caruso, a Director within our Human Resources and Office Support Divisions. Kim continues, “As a result, one executive assistant might have to do the work of two or three. Therefore, highly talented administrative professionals are coming to me overworked, stressed, and discouraged.”
Losing a highly valued executive assistant can be just as detrimental as losing a high-level executive. In reality, skilled executive and administrative assistants are much more than simple “assistants.” They know your work style, they know your family, they understand your expectations and what you may need even before you do, and most importantly, are always willing to step up when the time comes. Think about all the things you don’t have to think twice about because your EA has already prepared them for you. After all, when you really think about it, executive and administrative assistants are the glue that holds the organization together. They ensure all operations run efficiently and all tasks are completed in a timely and professional manner.
If one of your best EAs was unhappy and wanted to leave, wouldn’t you want to know, so you could do something about it? Kim explains, “Most of my candidates looking for new jobs feel they don’t have the opportunity to tell their employer they don’t feel appreciated or have too much work. Their employers typically don’t find out their EAs are unhappy until they give their notice.”
To find out whether or not your EA is happy, Kim suggests taking some time to evaluate your EA’s workload and initiating regular meetings to touch base. If you get the feeling your assistant has become overwhelmed with work, or they tell you at one of your meetings they’re spread too thin, depending on your needs, it may be time to hire an “Assistant to the Assistant” on a part-time, per-diem, or temporary basis.
The Assistant to the Assistant will help mitigate your EA’s stress by easing their workload and allowing them to focus their attention on fewer tasks at one time, or even take some time off. You and your EA can work together to determine when or how often you need to bring an extra pair of hands on board. Kim expects that if you set some time aside to do this on a regular basis, “You will see that your executive assistant will greatly appreciate and recognize your efforts to ensure their happiness, while you, in turn, may see an increase in productivity, quality, and loyalty.”