Office admin workers vital to business success - survery

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A new survey of almost 1,000 office support staff and their employers reveals almost a quarter of employers see the office admin role becoming more essential to the success of their business. But with 2.5 million unemployed, and 260,000 in the North West, competition is increasing which means workers need to do more to make themselves stand out to secure a job.

The survey from recruitment experts Hays shows that while one-third of organisations say office support workers make up less than 5% of their workforce, almost 80% of employers say office support workers provide essential support and are the backbone of the organisation.

The majority of employers (85%) report they will require office support workers with a greater variety of skills in future. But competition for positions is increasing, with 62% of employers saying jobseekers need to do more to standout. In some cases employers can receive many hundreds of applications for a single role, making it difficult for them to identify the most suitable candidates.

Over half (57%) of office workers are calling for an industry-standard qualification to help gain recognition for their expertise in this field, which reflects their concern about increasing competition for these roles. What individuals really need to do is investigate what skills employers are looking for from their office support workers, according to Geoff Sims, Managing Director of Hays Office Support. The survey shows over half (51%) of employers say previous experience of the role is important and other top skills employers look for in office support workers include good communication skills (35%), organisational skills (27%) and IT-related skills (20%).

Geoff Sims says: “Office support workers are often perceived as low skilled, but our research clearly shows this couldn’t be further from the truth, with three-quarters of employers stating they have seen an increase in people who are ‘over-qualified’ applying for positions. In the North West office support workers and office managers have the scope for more responsibility and a wider variety of work.”

He adds: “Organisations find themselves swamped by applications for these kinds of roles, as many jobseekers often think they do not require a high level of expertise. But to remain attractive, office support workers have to keep their skills in tip-top shape and stand out to potential employers.”

While candidates are well presented in interviews, according to 39% of employers, 28% say they are under rehearsed or badly prepared. In addition employers stress the importance for individuals to show enthusiasm for the organisation and role (42%).

Further good news for employees in this area is over half (54%) of employers are willing to offer office administration and support workers a better remuneration package to reflect the new demands of the role, and 56% may offer better training and development.

But it’s not all plain sailing for office admin workers and office managers. Over half also report they have rarely been interviewed by someone they perceive to be a good employer, and there is a growing expectation that they’ll have to cope with more things at the same time in the future. Eighty-five percent also reported stiffer competition for roles.