Navigating the great resignation for executive assistants

13 December 2021 Anastasia Kelly

The Great Resignation For Executive Assistants

In recent months, Australian employers have been wondering if the great resignation occurring in the United States will impact us locally. Following the pandemic, lockdowns have changed our working lives. Combine this with sustained labour shortages and a lack of skilled migration, employers are feeling the pinch. But are Australian executive assistants part of the global trend? 

With my close connection to Australia’s top executive assistants, I’m able to assess how executive assistants are collectively feeling. Speaking with executive assistants every day, I get to listen to and understand their concerns. While each executive assistant differs in their goals, ambitions and career priorities, many senior-level executive assistants are carefully considering their future in the wake of the great resignation. Therefore, it’s up to employers to understand this dynamic and ensure executive assistants are given the opportunities they seek if they wish to retain their loyalty in future.  

Executive assistants are highly loyal to their leaders 

Senior, business partner executive assistants strive hard to establish a cohesive, strong relationship with their executives, based on deep, intrinsic understanding and natural rapport. So the idea of resigning to advance a career elsewhere is not something they take lightly. Often with years of working with a single leader behind them, advancing their own career alongside their executive, it’s disarming to consider establishing a relationship from scratch in a new position. It’s that deep loyalty which makes mature, experienced and capable EAs at the top of their game such enticing prospects for employers. However, they need to understand the nature of the relationship if they are able to lure executive assistants into taking the leap. Executive assistants are likely to think long and hard before making any firm decisions and establish a clear sense of their future career goals in order to move forward. 

Like everyone, EAs want to be heard, valued and recognised 

Executive assistants, due to the unique role they play in an organisation, are potentially vulnerable to being overlooked and taken for granted. Speaking to many executive assistants on a daily basis, I often hear that they decide to seek opportunities elsewhere because they feel the significant contribution they make in the organisation is somewhat unappreciated. On the other hand, the more loyal executive assistants are far more likely to agree that they feel recognised, championed and supported — professionally, personally and financially. Put simply, If you don’t want your executive assistant to leave you, give them the recognition they deserve.

Executive assistants want to step up

I predict that the executive assistants who’ll be part of the great resignation in Australia will be the ones who feel ready to take on a more senior role in their organisation, but are frustrated that opportunities are denied to them. In the past decade, the role of the executive assistant has changed drastically. With the advent of technology and SaaS tools to reduce administrative duties, executive assistants are free to take on a business partner or chief of staff role. Sadly, some employers still prefer a transactional executive assistant to merely implement office administration. While that function is often necessary, it leaves ambitious executive assistants with no way to grow and evolve their career. They want to build their skills, reach the top of their game and make a dynamic contribution to their organisations as senior members of the leadership team. Employers who refuse to recognise this are more likely to find a resignation letter on their desk in the coming months. Therefore, it may be a good time to speak to your executive assistant about taking on more senior responsibilities and  give them an exciting challenge that widens their professional capabilities and gives them the support they need to flourish as they step up into a business partner role

Executive assistant expect fair remuneration

As a specialist EA  recruiter, I’ve seen executive assistant salaries increase significantly over recent years. Senior level business partner executives can now command a salary of $120-$150,000+ for their contribution. The executive assistant role often requires long hours in the office, arriving before their leader and departing after them. So that executive assistant salary should recognise that level of commitment. Employers expecting highly qualified, experienced, capable and confident candidates at $80-100,000 per annum will be sorely disappointed with the quality of applications they receive. Therefore, employers who value their executive assistant’s loyalty and contribution would be wise to ensure their salary grade is in line with national standards. 

Features and benefits of a role matter enormously 

While executive assistant salary is important, other elements matter greatly too. Like all employees, executive assistants want to spend time in a workplace that offers plenty of appeal and benefits — location included. All things being equal, employers with modern, well-equipped offices in the city will always attract a higher calibre of candidates. Benefits matter too. Executive assistants are likely to enjoy benefits, discounts and perks, just as all employees do. This can include all sorts of incentives, memberships and wellbeing programs. Investment in professional development is also seen as an attractive drawcard. 

The time is ripe for EAs looking for a new challenge 

For those executive assistants who are ready to further their career in a new role, the time is now. Tremendous opportunities with leading employers who are willing to offer generous salaries, benefits and bonuses await. Never before has the demand for highly qualified and capable business partner executive assistants been so high. If you’re seeking a role where you can have the seniority, salary and lifestyle you expect, then now is an ideal time to have the conversation. 

Looking to hire your next executive assistant? 

Speak to Anastasia today by calling 0421 16 55 96 or list your vacancy with us today.