By 2020, the most desirable employee benefit will be flexible working, revealed a study from salary sacrifice scheme provider Grass Roots (The future of work research). Over 1000 employee's about which workplace benefits are most likely to be important to them in the future. Almost half (49%) were hoping to achieve a better work/life balance in the future with two thirds looking the freedom to work whenever and from wherever they want or to have some degree of flexibility within a fixed working period.
"It's clear that the workforce is keen to move away from the 9 to 5 culture as they don't want to be chained to a desk every day and instead move towards being able to work in a way that better suits their home life" says Stephen Holt, commercial director at Grass Roots. "Organisations should now take steps to address their current working practices and assess the realities of offering staff the ability to work more flexibly. The ability to offer staff this perk could have a significant impact on staff morale and also aid staff recruitment and retention".
Other coveted benefits on the wish list included more team building experiences, the ability to work from home, education funding for advancement of learning and stress counselling.
Tips and tricks to help you work more effectively from home is something you may have seen us discuss before, especially as flexible working is becoming more common and has been cited as a key factor when choosing an employer.
Business communications company Maintel recently conducted a survey to explore employee work preferences amongst different generations. They polled employed adults in the UK aged 18 years and over and found that workers under 35 years old were more likely to feel productive when working from an office, compared to just 19% of those over 55 years.
The results showed that 25% found when they worked remotely it was difficult to get hold of their managers and colleagues. As such, this could reflect a preference for younger workers whom want more face-to-face support of experienced co-workers. Other potential reasons for this preference were the social aspects of office life, including the fact their working would be more "visible" to their colleagues. On the other hand older employee's stated that remote working allowed them to be generally more efficient with their time because they had responsibilities at home.
Rufus Grig (Maintel Chief Executive Officer) commented these results indicate a blanket approach could not be taken to staff management, nor should a company enforce either office or at home work. Instead it should be flexible to allow those to work where they feel most productive. He believes that through this approach, businesses would likely see a boost in employee performance, recruitment and retention.
London School of Business & Finance: Younger generations prefer office working
Business Matters: Under 35's prefer office life to remote working
Vivien from IAM's trusted partner cornerstone42, let us know what employers are increasingly asking her when looking for new administrative assistants.
The honest truth - what managers want vary. This depends on many elements including the organisation, culture and the hiring manager. What a big melting pot this is.
Many hiring managers talk about the operational role of an administrative assistant, hiring managers want someone who is highly organised, who is able to multi task and able to effectively deal with a high volume of workload and responsibilities. I am noticing a slight change of tide regarding managers who want to use their assistants more effectively and actually want to take their time to work on recruiting the right person.
What administrative assistants need to realise is the role is changing and additional responsibilities like project and event management, financial and budget management as well as recruitment is becoming an integral part of the role.
Regardless of the sector, managers are looking for someone who is highly organised who helps them to succeed and contributes to the success of the business and team.
If you are striving to work as a senior level, working strategically is key; this is what managers are asking for. What do I mean by that? It is important that you work with your manager to identify what their long term goals and objectives are and how you are going to help them achieve them; the commercial side of the business.
If you are working for a start-up or a small medium enterprise interests you, these organisations either know or are starting to understand the value and importance of social media. This responsibility is being delegated to administrative assistants. Employers are taking a keen interest on whether the individual uses social media for personal use or has managed social platforms for a business. If you shy away from social media I would highly recommend you take a look at your favourite brands or people and take note on how they run their social platforms.
Although the role has evolved so much, the fundamentals are still required which is a high proficiency in MS Outlook, Word, PowerPoint Excel and PowerPoint with strong organisational and communication skills.
We must not underestimate that most hiring managers value a high level of personal integrity, trust, the ability to handle confidential information and to be discreet.
The can-do attitude and a problem solver is important to any organisation. You will find this is a favourite interview question "Tell me when you had to deal with a problem and what was the outcome". Implementing systems - this can sometimes take time and the initiative to take forward, organisations are frequently looking for ways to be more effective. When recruiting someone new there is a hope that the new hire will bring fresh and innovative ideas into the workplace and implement them.
Another skill that I am frequently asked for is the ability to make a sound judgement as well as showing resilience, resourcefulness and the tenacity especially when there has been a setback. It is very important in the role as an administrative assistant to be able to bounce back and get back to business when thing do not plan out.
There are many skills and capabilities that is being demanded by potential employers, including strong communication skills, as we know assistants are the focal point, the first point of contact their managers or executives.
As administrative assistants it is our responsibility to keep up to date with the changes and requirements of potential organisations. Continue to learn, develop and learn from others and an eye on what is going on in the profession. Even if you are not actively looking do not have your head in the sand - always be aware of what is "hot" and what is "not" in your profession.
IAM members are eligible for a free CV appraisal (50% for a follow up service if wanted) and free initial mentoring service (15% for the next level of service).
Keep your eyes pealed for more pieces regarding skill set trends for administrative professionals whom vary in different levels of responsibility.
Renowned business author and IAM member for over 40 years, Laurie Mullins, looks at the importance of individuality and diversity from an administrative manager's perspective.
Organisations are made up of their individual members whether acting in isolation or as part of a group. The work of the administrative manager is likely to entail close working relationships with a broad range of individuals each with their own perceptions, feelings and attitudes. Individual differences can foster creativity, enjoyment and satisfaction at work but can also be the potential for conflict and frustration.
Effective management of people requires not only an understanding of individual employees but also recognition of the culture and climate of the organisation. Managing relationships at work has always been a key skill, but increasing expectations of the organisation and influences of the external environment place growing pressure on individuals at work. Sensitivity to individual needs and differences, especially in terms of their resilience, becomes particularly significant when organisations embark on major change initiatives such as that experienced recently by IAM.
Diversity in the workplace
People are not homogeneous: there is a multiplicity of differences. As organisations become increasingly global it is even more important for administrative managers to have a sound understanding of diverse countries and work forces. A joint report from the CBI and TUC, supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, suggests that promoting diversity in the workplace and employing people solely on the basis of their ability can bring many real business benefits. The report also makes clear that diversity can be improved through positive action - such as encouraging applications from types of people who have not in the past applied for jobs, additional training, providing support networks or adapting work practices - but not positive discrimination.
More than ever, organisational performance demands an understanding of, and response to, individual differences and diversity. Our unique characteristics and attributes shape our values and what we give and expect to receive from working. This necessitates a work climate that respects individual differences and treats all members of staff with dignity and mutual respect. However, valuing differences is easier said than done. It means relating to and working with people who may hold different perspectives, aspirations, customs and traditions and who bring different qualities to the workplace. Such differences are challenging: they question the manager's ability to see things from an alternative frame of reference.
Diversity management & training
More than ever, effective organisational performance demands and understanding of, and response to, diversity. This necessitates a work climate that respects individual differences and treats all members of staff with dignity and mutual respect. Effective management of diversity will also entail a review of organisational processes and the execution of work. Diversity training should include:
- increasing awareness of the meaning, nature and scope of diversity
- education in understanding the culture and values of individual members of a workforce
- addressing biases, prejudices and stereotypes
- effective communication with all members of staff - and also customers and suppliers
- recognition of the added benefits from a diverse and fully inclusive workforce.
Diversity training will not be effective unless there is active support from the top and it is recognised as a company-wide initiative that is part of the core value of the organisation whether in the private or public sector.
Laurie Mullins is author "management and organisational behaviour", Eleventh edition, Pearson Education (2016)