What is it?

Whilst any civilized person will naturally show their appreciation for those around them as a matter of course, sometimes we just don’t think to make a special effort to show our appreciation and support for those back office and admin staff (especially those we rarely meet) who keep our organisations running all year round.

In some countries though there’s a day set aside to make sure there’s a more formal recognition – at least one day a year.  And, in the United States, apart from major holidays and staff birthdays, Administrative Professionals Day is reported to be one of the most widely celebrated workplace” “observance days” in the business calendar.


Where is it celebrated?

Today, Administrative Professionals Day has spread from its US origins and is celebrated in many countries across the world – most notably still in North America, but also in Australasia – and in the UK and continental Europe it’s gaining ground too – though not always on the same day.

In Australia it’s celebrated on the first Friday in May, and in New Zealand it’s on the third Wednesday of April.   Just one day later in France, but if you are in South Africa, you’ll have to wait till the first Wednesday of September.

In Hong Kong we celebrate it on the Wednesday of the last full week of April.


Who’s involved and who’s idea was it?

A quick internet research reveals that (according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics) there are more than 4.1 million secretaries and administrative assistants working in the United States alone – with a further 8.9 million people working in various administrative support roles.   So there are a lot of people out there who should be interested!

It all started in 1952 when the first National Secretaries Week was organised  – the idea was established by the National Secretaries Association, and was supported by the US State Department of Commerce and various office supply and equipment manufacturers. It was decided then that the Wednesday of that week would be a special recognition day.

A couple of name changes later, the organisation behind it all today is the International Association of Administrative Professionals

Today, the goal of the International Association of Administrative Professionals is “to inspire and equip all administrative professionals to attain excellence” – you can read more about the organisation here




The original National Secretaries Association was formed to support and recognize administrative staff and their importance to the US economy – it was also expected to be a vehicle to attract people to careers in administration.  Highlighting and celebrating a particular day to specifically recognize the efforts of back office and support staff seemed like a civilized thing to do back in the 50s – and why not still today?


What should you do about it?

Well, some firms take the view that this is a special opportunity to say a more formal thank you to the back office staff who keep the office running smoothly all year round.  Or perhaps more prosaically and personally, it’s a chance to thank those people around you who “cover your elitist backside”.

Whichever your own firm’s approach, it is becoming customary to formally recognise the day in a meaningful way.

Favoured approaches seem to be cards, flowers, or maybe even better, time off (NB if you’re the boss, that means time off at a time that suits your administrative staff – not you!)

Typically local Hong Kong offers for the day are a little uninspiring – one famous hotel is keen for you to recognize your admin assistant’s year-round hard work on Administrative Professionals Day with their Facebook ad promoting “specially created sugar-free chocolate truffle cake”  or why not “invite them for a Thank You lunch featuring refreshing Spring produce”?

Probably best if you make your own plans!


I did cringe at some other suggestions I found on the internet – some seemed a bit ridiculous, others even, dare I say it, insincere.  Here are a couple of examples –

“Recognize the work of admin professionals by offering reimbursement for tuition (so they can take external training to expand their skills),  or

“Why not take your admin employees to lunch to discuss their career goals as well as department objectives”

– who wants to do this on a day when we’re celebrating and saying thanks!?!


When is it?

It’s TODAY – but if you’re reading this a day or so late, and  you’ve already missed it this year, here’ the date for 2017 and 2018.

In 2017  – it’s April 26th

And then  April 25th 2018


Have a Great Day!




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