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What happened with the survey information provided for the World Administrators Summit

12 Dec 2018 8:53 AM | Alison McKessar

So, what happened with the survey information you provided for the WASummit?

The future of work questions fed into the New Zealand presentation on technology and the future for admin. We had a whopping 142 responses to this questionnaire! Thank you!

There are only 24% of NZ administrators who are worried about the future, with the clear majority in the 41-50+ age bracket. Thirty-seven percent are excited with 35% feeling confident. This is excellent news. Other countries are not faring quite the same and there is a lot of angst about how technology, AI especially, will affect the profession. Case in point, one of the delegates from Spain had recently been laid off due to technological advances.

It is pleasing to note that no-one believed that the role would disappear or be performed entirely by machines. Just over half (54%) think that the role will be combined with other roles and the remainder see the role collaborating with technology or being completely different.

Three quarters of NZ administrators report putting in an effort of 7-8 (with 10 being the highest) towards developing new skills to assist with work in the future. There is also significant effort going into sharing information, building new networks, finding new ways to work smarter and new ways to contribute, learning the technology, undertaking training and being innovative (all areas where AAPNZ can help!). Where the effort is more spread (ie, less effort) is in the areas of reading about digitisation, AI and technology, engaging in social media, participating in mentorship programmes and benchmarking against other administrative professionals.

The takeaway from the survey is that NZ administrative professionals certainly need to make more of an effort to educate themselves about technology – read every article you come across about it! I will try to include more such articles and links in the National President newsletter in future.

With regard to the workplace harassment questionnaire, we received far fewer responses. The results show that 95% of NZ administrative professionals have witnessed workplace bullying during their career, with 68% reporting that they had been the victim of bullying.

For sexual harassment, half of respondents had witnessed this behaviour, with half also having been the target of such unwanted attention. 

Respondents were asked to rate how big a problem workplace bullying is in New Zealand (with 10 being the highest). The average came out at a 6, which is actually pleasingly low. It helps that NZ has fairly robust legislation in place for the protection of people at work.

A total of 59% of respondents agree that the trauma of bullying lasts forever, with 32% agreeing that the trauma lasts for several years.

Respondents were asked to suggest three anti-harassment initiatives they might introduce if they were the CEO. Of course there was a large list of activities, although there were some common themes:

  • Communication
  • Counseling
  • Reporting of incidents
  • Open door policies for staff to talk in a safe environment
  • Training for both staff and managers
  • Workshops on bullying
  • Zero tolerance

We also surveyed members with regard to the identity and image of the profession. The statistics for respondents generally reflected the make up of the AAPNZ membership, in that the majority were in the 41-50 and 50-60 age bracket. Respondents were well educated with 30% having achieved a National Certificate or Diploma and 16% with degrees.

Respondents were asked to provide words that come to mind when thinking about the administrative profession. There were 73 different words, although as expected, there were some repeated ones. These were: professional (16 times), undervalued (9 times), organised (6 times), skilled/multi-skilled (5 times), go-to person (4 times) with reliable, supportive, helpful, efficient and confidential each mentioned three times. Personally, I think this displays a really positive self-assessment of the profession in New Zealand!

Respondents overwhelmingly perceived their role as being extremely valuable (68%) or valuable (25%) – a total of 93%. This portrays a good, healthy self-esteem. The perception of management for administrative professionals was also relatively positive with the majority (43%) reporting that they believed management felt their role was very valuable and 17% reporting as extremely valuable. However, 32% rated management’s perception as only somewhat valuable which does raise some concern. In terms of the perception of other people within an organisation assistants believe they are not seen as being as valuable as they believe they actually are. The category of ‘somewhat valuable’ was selected by almost half (45%) of respondents. Having said that, the extremely valuable (13%) and very valuable (25%) were not too far behind.

Results from the feelings about the image of the profession were very positive. A total of 70% agree or strongly agree that the profession has a good image. Seventy-two percent agree or strongly agree that there are significant differences in the way the profession is viewed in different countries (which is the case, given what we heard at the WASummit) and 90% agreed or strongly agreed that there are significant differences in perception within different industries.

The results were more spread for the question of whether respondents believe their organisation has a good understand of their role. Fifty-eight percent agreed or strongly agreed with 20% feeling neutral and 17% disagreeing. Managers’ appreciation of contribution scored better with 75% agreeing or strongly agreeing.

Salaries was another question that showed a spread of opinion. Twenty-six percent of respondents disagree that they are being paid appropriately for their skills, with 23% feeling neutral. Thirty-five percent of respondents agree with only a quarter strongly agreeing that they are adequately remunerated.

Pleasingly, 77% of respondents are proud to tell people they’re an administrative professional. 

With regard to the career path and position descriptions survey, we had a total of 45 responses. The most common job role/title for administrative professionals in organisations within New Zealand is Office/Team Administrator (33%).

Respondents stated they were required to work a reasonable number of hours (93% agreeing or strongly agreeing). They felt they had the skills to fulfil their responsibilities (91% agreeing or strongly agreeing) and they believed their work is appreciated (78% agreeing or strongly agreeing).

Administrative professionals said they were happy with their opportunities for professional growth (67% agreeing or strongly agreeing). They felt they understood the skills needed to advance (76% agreeing or strongly agreeing) and believe administrative professionals can advance in their current organisation (35% agreed or strongly agreed). The small percentage indicated in the last result might indicate the difference in employer; public sector vs private business.

Leadership (64%), Management (62%) and Business technology (49%) were the top three skills respondents wanted in order to continue their advancement.

Seventy percent of respondents felt satisfied with their career progression so far. Fifty-seven percent intend to continue their career with their current organisation, whilst a slightly larger number (64%) indicated they may need to change role/employers to advance their career.

Respondents indicated that actively engaging their manager in discussions regarding their career goals (53%), developing a career plan (51%), and seeking clarity on next possible career steps (49%) would improve or accelerate their career development.

Fifty-two percent of respondents indicated their job description accurately showed the skills needed for the job, 51% indicated it gave them a precise idea of what was expected, whilst 40% said their job description did not help them with succession planning or career progression.

An alarming, but not surprising, 82% of respondents indicated their organisation did not have a career ladder for their role. Results indicate that 50% of respondents felt more engaged because their organisation has a career ladder for them whilst 50% indicated they may need to change employers to climb the career ladder. This was the only question that had an even split in responses for and against, with a large number indicating they were neutral.  This completely contradicted the previous outcome and perhaps indicates a big difference between public sector employees and those in private business. 


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