Comment: Are we dumping clerical tasks that no one wants to do onto administrative staff?

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SINGAPORE: It is an unspoken reality that chores or extra work in the workplace seem to be offloaded onto office administrative assistants or the most junior staff members.

Whether it’s organizing team lunches on pre-COVID days, hampers for new parents, birthday cakes, fixing broken vending machines, collecting contributions for a fundraiser or from finding a common time for everyone to meet in person or online, there are the usual suspects who take responsibility for this hidden work.

All of these chores seem like thankless endeavours.

“My boss is the type to take things for granted and my colleagues are all selfish; they take and don’t give,” an administrative assistant working for a small business in Singapore shared in confidence, in interviews I conducted with administrative assistants and managers in my network.

“These activities take time and energy (yet) we are not promoted based on them,” confessed another administrative officer working in an academic institution. She said she wanted genuine appreciation and recognition for going the extra mile.

WHY DO ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF SUPPORT OFFICE TASKS?

These tasks are rarely, if ever, explicitly stated in job descriptions or KPIs.

Even if they were, that does not absolve us as co-workers and supportive employers of the responsibility to ensure that our administrative staff are not saddled with “household chores” that contribute little to their professional growth and can arouse feelings of dissatisfaction and unfairness. .

Why do they even support it? The answers I got reveal the dynamics of power and the transfer of responsibility.

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