Posted by Robert Half on 19 April 2016
Could your organisation function effectively without admin staff? Office support professionals are often unheralded in business, but the key role they play should not be underestimated. Such professionals provide valuable clerical and administrative services, allowing work processes to operate seamlessly and for decision makers to focus on value-adding tasks and responsibilities.
Without office support staff, businesses would soon be left in a state of disarray, with mountains of incomplete and unfilled paperwork, scores of unanswered letters and telephone calls, and potentially a host of compliance failings. Office support workers are the individuals who keep everything ticking over, ensuring senior individuals can get on with their jobs, and most of the time without being noticed.
Organisations need people to organise meetings and travel, manage correspondence, take minutes and transcribe notes, but the role of administrative professionals goes far beyond this. Today’s office support staff are often tasked with supporting busy marketing and sales teams, managing customer service and any potential complaints and even overseeing social media accounts on some occasions. Without this spine, things could quickly fall apart, making it impossible for the organisation to function as designed.
Benefit of office support staff
The number of administrative professionals employed by an organisation will usually depend on its size, and the number of departments within the company. In smaller businesses, there may just be a couple of staff with a broad admininistrative brief, while in larger businesses, the office team could comprise a large group of employees, each with their own distinct role.
Administrative professionals are typically bright and resourceful individuals, capable of taking on a broad range of tasks and delivering a high level of performance. Employers are increasingly recognising the potential of their office support staff by giving them a wider brief and increased responsibility.
What should you look for when hiring administrative staff?
In the recruitment process for administrative workers, employers are typically looking for candidates with effective interpersonal skills and a real customer focus. Increasingly, office support professionals are assuming external communication duties, whether this involves speaking to clients in person as a first point of contact, or being the 'face of the company' over the phone.
Typically, hiring managers look for office support staff with a degree of technical expertise. Those who are comfortable using Microsoft Office applications such as Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint are always in strong demand, while an understanding of social media is also being seen as a positive attribute. Many organisations are eager to boost their presence on websites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, and admin professionals may be involved in this process. Depending on the duties assumed by the IT and marketing teams, support workers could find themselves monitoring social media feeds and responding to customer feedback via these channels.
In order to thrive in a busy office environment, admin professionals need to be effective multi-taskers – individuals who can juggle multiple assignments at once. At certain times, the department will be very busy, and this requires the whole team to give their all. Preferred candidates will have excellent organisational and time management skills, flexibility and a positive attitude.
But despite the new roles being assumed by admin professionals, employers still recognise the value of solid secretarial skills. Strong executive and personal assistance capabilities remain paramount within the profession, with organisations looking for experts in diary and travel management, minute-taking, audio and copytyping, data entry and related duties.
How much should admin staff earn?
Employers recognise the value of hiring skilled administrative professionals, and incentivising them to stay with their organisation for the long term. For this reason, the salaries paid to office support staff is increasing – in many cases faster than the rate of inflation. In order to secure the services and loyalty of admin, many employers are offering more attractive remuneration packages.
In terms of senior support staff, professionals working in executive assistant, personal assistant and office manager roles can all expect to command higher salaries. To find out how much expected salaries are check out the Robert Half Salary Guide.