Many managers underestimate the power of a pat on the back, new research suggests. While supervisors surveyed rated job promotions and cash as the two most valued forms of recognition to administrative professionals, support staff favoured a simple thank-you and having their accomplishments passed on to senior management.

The study was developed by OfficeTeam and the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) and includes responses from 549 administrative professionals in the United States and Canada along with 300 managers.

Top five forms of recognition (managers’ responses)

• 1. Promotion;
• 2. Cash;
• 3. Paid time off;
• 4. Boss shares achievement;
• 5. In-person thank-you.

Top five forms of recognition (staff responses)
• 1. In-person thank-you;
• 2. Boss shares achievement (tied for first);
• 3. Promotion;
• 4. Membership to a professional association;
• 5. Registration for a conference or seminar.

The research also revealed how instrumental recognition is in attracting and retaining professionals, even in a soft economy.

Two out of three (66 per cent) administrative employees polled said they would likely leave their jobs if they did not feel appreciated by their manager. And seven out of 10 (70 per cent) support professionals said the company’s recognition program would factor into their decision to accept a job with a potential employer.

“While financial rewards should not be overlooked, the research shows there are other ways to effectively recognize someone’s commitment and dedication,” said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. “Administrative professionals are working harder than ever, but their accomplishments usually occur behind the scenes. Therefore, praise from supervisors or colleagues that is specific, immediate and genuine can go a long way.”

“When support staff receive association memberships or registration to a seminar or conference, both the employee and company benefit,” said Barbara Horton, IAAP’s 2008-09 international president.

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