Administrative assistants work in every industry, and their jobs are extremely demanding. If you're not one, you might not know how hard they work, but don’t underestimate the grueling nature of their day-to-day or the amount of education they needed to get there! And if you are one, you know all too well the struggles that come from this often underappreciated job.
Here are a few challenges admin assistants face on the regular.
1. Difficult Personalities
Ever had a bad boss? Yeah, well, administrative assistants are tasked to those bad bosses 24/7. Their whole job is to deal with those demanding, aggressive, socially awkward, self-important, micromanaging lunatics. So show a little respect.
2. Devaluation of their Job
If you’re an admin assistant, everybody just assumes you’re not qualified enough to get a "real job." That’s mostly because they have no idea what your job actually entails. No one multitasks or juggles better. But admin assistants are too humble to correct you. They know what they know.
3. Clean-up Responsibilities for All
The task of office clean-up, and also the general putting out of everybody else’s fires and fixing of everybody’s messes, almost always falls to admin assistants. Next time you see a handwritten sign taped over the festering sink, think of how many weeks of suffering in silence went on before that sign even went up.
4. You're Always on Call
Even though admin assistants have little authority, they are expected to know almost everything and they can be blamed for almost everything that happens to go wrong. And they are expected to be available whenever anybody needs them.
5. Inconsistent Whims and Demands
Admin assistants aim to please and are always trying to carry out a boss’s wishes and anticipate his or her needs. But so often bosses keep moving the goalposts and changing the rules. It can be enormously frustrating to keep up.
6. Inappropriate Requests
It’s bad enough having to babysit your boss and your colleagues. Sometimes you’re asked to actually babysit children when a coworker or your boss brings theirs to work. Or you’re asked to go get someone’s dry cleaning (someone you don't report to) or run another ridiculous errand.
7. Shooting the Messenger
Even if you didn’t screw up, you’re the one who usually gets yelled at—by everyone. Admin assistants are constantly in the direct line of fire.
8. Lack of Trust and Time
You could either end up with a boss who rides you on every little detail, or even worse, one who doesn’t have any time for you. It’s very hard to do your job if you don’t get at least a few minutes a day of face time to make sure you know what’s needed of you.
9. There's Rarely a "Thanks"
Of all the things you’ll hear said or shouted at you as an admin assistant, “thank you” is almost never one of those things. Even and especially when you were the one who saved the day.
10. No Time to Do It All
As an admin assistant, your list of tasks—and the stack of papers on your desk—is gargantuan. You make deadlines just fine, but the to-do list never seems to shrink.
11. No Money
Perhaps the biggest injustice done to admin assistants is the egregious lack of compensation. Nobody gets paid less given their work and worth.
So next time you feel like yelling at an assistant—or just dumping some thankless jobs on their desk, don’t! Imagine what their day must be like first and show a little love. And if you are one, thanks for all you do. We appreciate you.