The Top 10 Everyday Struggles

Julie Shenkman
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Being an administrative assistant is not easy. It is a job title that does not always command the amount of respect it deserves. Many administrative assistants share a core of common complaints about their workplaces — specifically their treatment at work.

1. Being Treated like a Shared Personal Assistant

Administrative assistants are frequently treated like personal assistants with everyone heaping tasks on their docket. In this case, it’s important to know your job description. Whenever there’s a question, the highest priority should be placed on tasks assigned to you by your direct supervisor.

2. Feeling Unappreciated

The inevitable office hierarchy often means that administrative workers do not get the recognition they deserve and are made to feel inferior. Further, because most administrative work is performed behind the scenes, the workers are often not invited to share in the glory of a company achievement.

3. Receiving Less Pay for Equal Work

It is common for administrative employees to work closely with higher-level workers to complete projects. While it is always best to expand your capabilities with new types of tasks, it is normal to feel resentment when you receive less compensation for equal work.

4. Co-workers Using Your Desk as a Gathering Place

It can be agitating to have co-workers congregate near your desk. This is particularly an issue if you sit in the reception area. Always be polite, but don’t be afraid to make it clear to chatty co-workers when you need to concentrate.

5. Taking Notes in Meetings About Topics That You Are Not Familiar With

In many cases, executives will expect their administrative assistants to take notes during meetings. The problem is that if the assistant is not educated in the topic of the meeting, it can be tricky to follow and know what is important.

6. Being the Office Maid

Administrative assistants and clerical staff are often left with the responsibility of tidying up the workplace. It can be frustrating to clean up after others, but never underestimate the importance of the physical impression of a workspace.

7. Being Expected to Greet Guests with a Smile

It is important to maintain a friendly demeanor. This can be extremely difficult, though, in times of stress. Focus on your physical and emotional well-being, and keep your supervisor apprised of your stress level.

8. Being Everybody's Last-Minute Solution

On a normal workday, it is common to delegate certain tasks to administrative workers. However, this can often feel as if you’re being saddled with all the last-minute-detail work that no one else wants to bother with.

9. Messy Co-Workers Destroying Your Careful Organization

The key duties of administrative and clerical staff involve keeping the workplace in order. When you work hard to keep things organized, it is extremely frustrating when others are lazy and don’t abide by the systems you have in place.

10. Never Having Enough Time

Administrative staff are frequently under enormous pressure to complete a competing lineup of tasks in a timely manner. The key is to prioritize your workload.

Administrative assistants often feel undervalued in the workplace. The best course of action is be forthright with your supervisors about your struggles. The most efficient workplace is one that employs and retains loyal, engaged employees, so a good supervisor will work with you to ease any concerns.


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Oh @Tricia - how very true. The unfortunate truth is that is exactly what an Admin is - the complaint department; the hand holder; the Mom; the housekeeper; the one everyone runs to when something goes wrong - such as the copier jamming or the printer is out of ink. I worked as an AA and an Executive Admin and was always the "go-to" person - the one in the know. In some ways it's kind of fun being the go-to person but, when everyone is throwing their work on you, that's when you have to step up and say no!!!


    There is one more item that needs to be addressed: everyone assumes you are "The Complaint Department." Everything is not fair to everyone else, others continually complain about how terrible their lives are or how much they hate their jobs etc. I have no clue as to why many people assume you are there to listen to their whining. Just recently, I was in a training class and a couple of other women were complaining about the long hours we will be working for the upcoming Early Voting. Do others really think I care about small things at all? Such as: "I have so much work to do there never isn't ever any time for me to get it done." Meanwhile they sit at their desks playing on the computer, having personal calls continually throughout the day, or even take longer breaks than necessary or just standing around gabbing with other employees. No one cares about little Mary going to the potty or how cute Fluffy the cat is. If we are not interested then why complain?

  • NIMFA Q.
    NIMFA Q.

    This is absolutely true!

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