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Did you know it takes someone very special to be a PA?

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The results of a new psychological study commissioned by Avery UK with Executive Secretary Magazine have revealed marked differences in the abilities, experiences and personalities of PAs and their colleagues in the office. The study, which compared PAs with the rest of the UK working population, uncovered a number of extraordinary findings.

The in-depth research looked at numerous factors of working life including PAs personality traits, stress levels, responsibilities as well as their IQ, qualifications and emotional intelligence levels, comparing each aspect to the rest of the working population. The results were striking.

Published in: Business
  • Thanks for your comment. The survey was open to all PAs but the number of male PAs who completed it was so small so to ensure we had an accurate comparison between the PAs and Non-PAs statistically we were only able to include the results between the females for the purpose of the report. The numbers of males completing were too low to be statistically accurate. Hope that helps answer.
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  • Interesting, but why only female PAs?
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Did you know it takes someone very special to be a PA?

  1. 1. Did you know it takes someone very special to be a PA?
  2. 2. Why did Avery UK complete this research? • Avery UK is proud to work with PAs and make their lives a little easier with their wide range of products and software. • Working with Executive Secretary Magazine, Avery wanted to find out more about the role of the PA including the type of people working in the profession and how the role has changed. • Around 300 female PAs, and around 300 female office workers who were not PAs took part in the online survey. • The results were analysed by a psychologist from BrainChimp. • The aim was to see how PAs compared with their colleagues in the office in terms of stress levels, job satisfaction, career opportunities, intelligence and individual personality traits. • The results were surprising and showed marked differences between the skills of PAs and the rest of the working population.
  3. 3. The Results
  4. 4. 11% 13% 10% 11% 8% 15% 13% 9% 15% 17% 26% 18% 18% 17% 17% 17% 14% 14% 12% 12% Proportion who are high in each personality trait Not a PA PA The characteristics of PAs versus non-PAs
  5. 5. The main characteristics of PAs PAs were significantly higher than non-PAs in conscientiousness, meaning they are more responsible, diligent and pro-active. PAs are higher in extraversion so they are more gregarious, outgoing and optimistic than non-PAs. PAs are higher in agreeableness. Traits include being friendly, warm and trusting.
  6. 6. Working outside normal hours comes with the job. I am always on the phone 24/7 and have my laptop with me. You’ve got to get the work-life balance right. Dalya Bernstein The number one skill for a PA is interpersonal skills. It’s really important to be able to adapt your style to get the best out of the person you are working with. Rebecca Eccles Other office workers could learn from assistants’ interpersonal skills. Treat everyone the same, like a real person. Look behind the title. Janice Anderson The main characteristics of PAs
  7. 7. Having emotional intelligence skills is so important as you are the eyes and ears. Sometimes you have to read between the lines. Janice Anderson PAs have higher Emotional Intelligence PAs are lower in neuroticism than other office workers. Traits of low neuroticism include being less stressed, irritable and pessimistic. PAs have a higher Emotional Intelligence, which means they are better able to recognise and manage emotions in themselves and others.
  8. 8. In the role of an assistant you have to have high emotional intelligence as you are dealing with very important people who expect a certain level of interaction. You have to be very aware of how your messages will be received. PAs are often the invisible glue that bonds a team together. The skill is being the eyes and ears for your manager. You can help your manager have a better relationship if you have a good sense of how others are feeling. Laura Ahmed PAs have higher Emotional Intelligence
  9. 9. PAs work significantly more unpaid overtime than non-PAs. When asked “How often do you work more than your agreed hours (e.g. weekends)?” 16% of non-PAs answered “Never” compared to just 3% of PAs. 3 16 PAs Non PAs The % of PAs and non-PAs who never work overtime People do work extra hours but they are doing that because they are making their work the best it possibly can be. Teely Webb PAs do more unpaid overtime than other office workers % %
  10. 10. 27 14 PAs Non PAs The % who work more than their agreed hours almost every day 27% of PAs do more than their agreed hours almost every day, compared to 14% of non-PAs. 68% of PAs said they work additional hours at least once a week. I don’t think as PAs we spend enough time looking after ourselves. We spend so much time looking after other people. Leeanne Graham PAs regularly work more than their agreed hours % %
  11. 11. PAs are more satisfied in their jobs Despite the longer hours PAs are working there is no significant difference in work stress. Both PAs and non-PAs score an average of 2.0 on a scale of 1 to 3 for work stress. PAs are more satisfied in their jobs, scoring 3.75 on a scale of 1 to 5, compared to 3.44 with non-PAs.
  12. 12. PAs are a great positive bunch, they are a supporting and welcoming group. Laura Ahmed PAs deal with so many people in so many different areas. We are often helping people with something urgent or problematic. Fatiha Zeghir I’ve had some amazing opportunities along with the role and I just feel very, very lucky. Dalya Bernstein My favourite thing about being a PA is being that person everyone knows, and that everyone comes to. I really enjoy the office environment. Leeanne Graham PAs are more satisfied in their jobs
  13. 13. What are the opportunities for PAs? PAs are significantly less likely to agree with the statement More than half (51%) disagreed compared to just 37% of other office workers. My current role helps me to develop as a person There are opportunities for me to advance in my current role PAs agree significantly more that with 60% of PAs, versus 45% of non-PAs, agreeing with the statement.
  14. 14. I think one of the challenges for the PA industry is sometimes PAs need recognition that this is not just a job; it’s a career they have chosen. Teely Webb My hope for the PA profession as a whole is for us to continue to encourage each other. As long as we continue to do that our profession will continue to grow. Leeanne Graham What are PAs like in the workplace?
  15. 15. PAs are significantly more likely to agree with the statement “I am happy in my job”. 72% of PAs agree, compared to 58% of non-PAs. 72 58 PA Non PAs % which agree with the statement “I am happy in my job” I’m not surprised to hear that PAs are happier in their role. You become a PA because you love helping people. It’s a passion. Leeanne Graham We are happier in our jobs as we are providing something positive. Fatiha Zeghir PAs are happier in the workplace % %
  16. 16. Agreement with the statement “My boss appreciates me” is significantly higher for PAs than for non-PAs. 52% of non-PAs agree with this, compared to 77% of PAs. 77 52 PA Non PAs % agree with statement my boss appreciates me I’m really lucky, I really like the guys I work for and I do feel appreciated. Sometimes as an industry we aren’t very good at accepting praise. Laura Ahmed PAs feel more appreciated by their bosses % %
  17. 17. PAs are often given tasks they haven’t received training for 18% score in the high range, compared to 11% for non-PAs. 21% of PAs agree strongly with the statement compared to 11% of other office workers. PAs are significantly more likely to be overworked. Sometimes I am given tasks which I haven’t received training for
  18. 18. Some of the hardest things about being a PA is the jobs you don’t necessarily have training for but are expected to know. For example, if you don’t have a background in finance but still have to do budgets. It is difficult if you haven’t had training in something, but you can find out the information you need, it just means a little bit more research. Teely Webb I do think PAs take on tasks that they haven’t been trained for. As well as being challenging, it’s quite exciting. Rebecca Eccles PAs are often given tasks they haven’t received training for
  19. 19. What does the PA Personality involve?
  20. 20. What can others learn from PAs? Other people in the workplace could learn a lot from PAs, there’s always something a PA would know that maybe others wouldn’t know they knew. Dalya Bernstein PAs often don’t complain as much as other workers. Laura Ahmed Other office workers could learn from assistants’ interpersonal skills. Treat everyone the same, like a real person, look behind the title. Janice Anderson Never say no or I don’t know, just say wait a second and call someone. Fatiha Zeghir Other office workers can learn from PAs in terms of inter-personal skills. Rebecca Eccles The best piece of advice I have been given is to keep asking questions, it’s not something that comes naturally to PAs as we don’t like to ask for help. Leeanne Graham It’s up to you to drive your own career. Teely Webb
  21. 21. We are so excited to have been involved in this piece of research, which is quite simply one of the most insightful pieces of research into the Assistant and their role within their companies, conducted in the last 10 years. The role of the Assistant has changed beyond recognition since the recession, with Assistants filling the gaps left by the middle management that were made redundant. In many cases, Assistants are taking on huge amounts of extra work but with no more pay. This survey proves that Assistants are dedicated, loyal, diligent and savvy - in many cases, much more so than other members of staff that receive significantly more recognition, training and remuneration. It raises questions that must be addressed by the businesses that are happy to utilise the Assistants' unique traits evident in the results of this survey, but don't choose to invest in personal development or provide appropriate career progression with the associated pay increases for their administrative staff. Lucy Brazier, Executive Secretary Magazine What does Lucy Brazier think of these results?
  22. 22. There is a lot that many of us could learn from PAs, from their interpersonal skills to their passion and enthusiasm. We would go as far as to say that PAs are one of the biggest personnel assets to an organisation, they’re positive, intuitive, willing to go the extra mile and can often adapt quickly to new tasks with little or no training. It’s a desirable skill set for any employee to have. If there were more staff in the office with these traits, it could mean a more productive, efficient and enjoyable workplace. Our research has shown that many PAs do feel appreciated by the executives they support - but perhaps some extra recognition is due from the wider business community for the PA role. Many of the PAs we spoke to were keen to stress what a varied and challenging role it is and expressed a desire for it to be seen as a career and not a job to fall into. Fiona Mills, Marketing Director, Avery UK What does Avery UK think of these results?
  23. 23. • PAs work significantly more unpaid overtime than the rest of us but they are still positive and no more stressed than the general working population. • PAs are frequently asked to complete tasks they have no training for – yet they are happier in their jobs. • PAs have the same IQ as the rest of us but their EQ is higher, meaning they are better at dealing with people. • PAs are a company’s biggest asset – they are willing to go the extra mile and can jump straight into something new with little or no training. • They are happy and appreciated by colleagues and especially appreciated by their boss. So it takes someone very special to be a PA…
  24. 24. • There is a certain personality type for PAs - PAs are more agreeable, extroverted, conscientious and emotionally intelligent, and less neurotic. • PAs are happier with their lives, they are happier in their jobs, and they are more satisfied with their jobs. They are no more or less stressed in their work than non-PAs. • PAs are more satisfied not because of the nature of the job, but because of who they are - they are less neurotic and more conscientious, and this means they enjoy their work more. So it takes someone very special to be a PA…
  25. 25. Thank you Thank you to all the PAs who took part in this research Look out for more updates by following our social channels @UK Avery #PApsych www.facebook.com/ukAvery www.linkedin.com/company/avery-uk

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