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Staff Recognition & Retention

Annual dose of appreciation isn’t enough

I suspect that Wednesday, April 21, 2004 was a good day for restaurateurs, much busier day than most Wednesdays.
The reason? Bosses everywhere were marking Administrative Professionals Day® (formerly Professional Secretaries Day®) by inviting their secretaries and executive or administrative assistants to join them for lunch. Supervisors and managers may also have sent flowers, chocolates or other gifts during the week of April 19 - 24, designated by the International Association of Administrative Professionals as Administrative Professionals Week®.

Whether the recognition given during Administrative Professionals Week is meaningful or not depends on two factors: what motivates the boss to act and what happens during the other 51 weeks between Professional Assistant Weeks.

For some bosses, the lunches, chocolates and flowers come from sense of appreciation for how secretaries and assistants contribute to the organization. Others appear to act out of a sense of obligation, perhaps shamed into action by colleagues or even the secretaries and assistants themselves. When bosses feel compelled to act, whatever they do is seen as insincere or contrived. At best the lunch or gift is viewed as an entitlement or a minor fringe benefit.

Whatever the motivation, a once a year dose of appreciation is not enough. Lunches, flowers and chocolates are all good things to do, but don’t stop at the end of Administrative Professionals Week. Effective recognition cannot just take the form of an annual lunch. Effective recognition must continue throughout the year.

Recognition does not always have to include food or flowers. Recognition may take the form of words of appreciation—a simple thank you now and then, a nod of approval or permission to come in late after staying behind the evening before to complete a project. Whatever form the recognition takes, it must be motivated by a genuine sense that what the staff member does is valued. It must be offered frequently throughout the year.

During his Staff Recognition & Retention seminars, Nelson Scott emphasizes the value of genuine, timely, specific, personalized and relevant recognition in making the organization more successful, increasing commitment, improving morale and reducing turnover.

“Administrative Professionals Week”, “Administrative Professionals Day” and “Professional Secretaries Week” are registered trademarks of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAPP).


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A professional trainer, speaker, and consultant since 1995, Nelson Scott works with organizations that are committed to making the right hiring decisions, developing and retaining productive staff, and strengthening relationships with customers.  Learn more by visiting or e-mailing


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