6 ways to engage unhappy administrative staff

By Robert Half on 6 May 2019

Your administrative team is critical to the success of your employees and, in turn, your business. They provide vital support services for nearly everyone in your organisation.

Your admins are also the main points of contact for customers, and the impression they make often has a lasting impact. So, if your administrative staff is unhappy, people will notice.

Let’s take a look at what influences happiness at work for many administrative professionals and review some employee engagement strategies that can keep it high.

Increase employee engagement by helping your team avoid burnout

In a recent Robert Half study, we surveyed 2,000 Australian professionals across all age groups, experience levels and industry sectors to gauge their level of on-the-job happiness. Our research revealed that, on a scale of one to five, admins ranked four in their level of happiness, while people in executive management positions, in contrast, ranked number one. As we’ve discovered in our survey, admins, like most employees in an organisation, want to feel pride in the company they work for, they want to be appreciated for what they do, and they want to be truly interested in their jobs.

Here are six ways that you, as a member of the management team, can increase employee engagement among your administrative staff.

1. Ensure a good fit at hiring time

Initiate your employee engagement strategy right off the bat by hiring people who mesh well with your organisation’s culture. Make sure that you accurately represent the work environment, as well as job expectations to prospective candidates so they know what they’re in for and won’t feel disappointed or in over their heads once on board. This means, aside from qualifications, you’ll also want to consider temperament to ensure they are compatible with your team.

2. Cultivate current employees

To keep your current admin staff happy, make sure you check in with them about their goals, which are likely to evolve over time. As part of your engagement strategy, you can give them guidance with respect to their career paths and offer them opportunities to act as mentors for new hires. Having a conversation with your administrative staff about job satisfaction is a crucial, yet often overlook component of good leadership.

3. Empower administrative staff

Our happiness research shows that only 39 percent of professionals believe they have a say in important decisions – and only 43 percent feel that they are able to influence important decisions. There are steps you can take to empower your people. For example, you may want to think about inviting your administrative staff to participate in inspiring activities, like weekly brainstorming sessions to encourage staff morale.

4. Praise honestly and appropriately

Praise and gratitude can help encourage greater employee engagement for your admins. Positive feedback and a word of thanks are powerful motivators. Just make sure you’re sincere and you relate your praise to a specific achievement. And don’t overdo it, as it can come across as forced.

5. Make work meaningful

As President Theodore Roosevelt once observed, “ … the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Show your administrative staff how everything they do contributes to a bigger objective or mission. People are happier when they understand the context of their jobs and how the work they do plays an important role in the organisation’s success. Also, to improve this aspect of employee engagement, consider assigning your people some in-depth projects to help them get into a state of flow. People who are intensely focused on an interesting task tend to be happier.

6. Play fair

A sense of fairness and respect is so important to employees that even a single incident that rubs them the wrong way can turn otherwise satisfied admins into cynical workers – and they may even end up leaving the company in due time. About one-fourth of workers surveyed said that, if they were not treated with respect, they would consider leaving their jobs within a year.

Robert Half Employee Recognition Infographic

Seek out ways to improve communication in your workplace

Compensation plays a big part in fairness. As a manager, you also need to ensure that your employees’ salaries are in accordance with industry and regional standards. You can stay up to date on salary ranges by reviewing resources like the latest Robert Half Salary Guide.

Good management also means providing plenty of opportunities for your administrative staff to voice their concerns about being treated unequally. It’s also a good idea to be transparent with workers around decision making so that they feel included. And even simple, common courtesies like not interrupting your people midstream can make a difference. Also, make a point of showing them that you value work-life balance. Be a good example by leaving the office at a decent hour and unplugging when you’re on vacation.

Your leadership matters

While the happiness of your administrative staff doesn’t rest entirely with you, as their manager, you play a big part in building employee engagement. Call upon your leadership skills to create a happier, more meaningful work environment where they can thrive and feel that they are valued and involved.

Promoting employee engagement isn’t rocket science, but it does take commitment, consistency and creativity. With some good management, you can markedly improve the happiness level of your administrative team. Ultimately, a happy organisation is a healthy one. And a healthy one is more likely to be successful.

Are you looking to hire admins for your company? Find out how Robert Half can help you find candidates that are the right fit for your team.

Learn from Robert Half’s expert recruiters so you can build a talented team of employees or advance your career. Operating in over 300 locations worldwide, our recruitment firm in Perth can provide you with assistance where and when you need it.

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