Window of opportunity
NEW opportunities for career advancement are emerging for the state’s office and administration workers.
Office professionals are increasingly being promoted because of the skills and experience they have developed and the further education and training programs staff have completed.
A survey finds 64 per cent of office staff are not happy in their workplace and are looking for another job, but many are failing to see the opportunities with their current employer.
RECEPTIONISTS are being urged to look for opportunities for career progression after a recent survey found many are unhappy and considering resignation. A survey of more than 400 Australian office professionals by temporary recruitment firm OfficeTeam has revealed receptionists are the most unhappy of all administration workers, with 64 per cent actively seeking or thinking about a new job – a far higher proportion than office managers or personal assistants. The main reasons for being disgruntled are a lack of career development and insufficient pay. The Australian Institute of Office Professionals says promotions are available for office workers wanting a change. The institute’s national president Pat Kriel says she is an example of what receptionists can achieve. Ms Kriel began her career as a part-time receptionist for a New Zealand law firm and several years later is now executive assistant to Adelaide City Council chief executive officer Peter Smith. She also has worked as a paralegal – a position she was offered after the law firm discovered she could do shorthand. ‘‘Receptionists should be encouraged to look outside the square and look outside the boundaries of being a receptionist,’’ Ms Kriel says. ‘‘If you are stagnating (in the role of receptionist) then speak to someone within your HR department or management and see if there’s anything else (on offer). ‘‘Even if you are still in a receptionist role but in a different area (department division), there are ways of still doing the same job but getting to see things from a different aspect.’’ Ms Kriel says receptionists perform a valuable role that often is overlooked by colleagues. ‘‘There’s scope for you to make people feel welcome. Your presentation is a reflection of the rest of the office,’’ she says. ‘‘As a receptionist, you will be dealing with the bicycle couriers that don’t know where to go, the people off the street who just want to use the loo and then the visiting chief executive officer that is coming in to see your chief executive officer.’’ OfficeTeam senior manager Stephen Langhammer says it is well worth bosses making an extra effort to ensure receptionists are supported. ‘‘There is an assumption in the marketplace that front-of-house positions are easily filled and employers don’t have to invest in these staff . . . a costly mistake,’’ he says. ‘‘Reception staff are the face of an organisation and often hold a great deal of knowledge that can be difficult to transfer. ‘‘Therefore, a high front-desk turnover can be a huge cost to the organisation.’’ Mr Langhammer says receptionists often tend to miss out on career development and payrises but warns now the economy is picking up, office workers will look for job satisfaction elsewhere. Elly Hay, 59, began as a receptionist for plumbing and roof industry group training organisation TAPS in 1997. She now is an administration officer, responsible for training the company’s other receptionists, as well as overseeing the day-to-day running of the office. ‘‘I do think the receptionist is the most important person in the office,’’ Mrs Hay says. ‘‘You need to have a great personality and be great on the telephone – you really are the first point of contact that anyone has with your company. It’s not much good having a receptionist that’s a bit dopey. It’s a bit like being in customer service. You are there to serve whoever rings up and whoever comes in. ‘‘If I went somewhere and the receptionist was cranky, I wouldn’t want to go back and do business there. Things like that (being courteous) are very important.’’
Elly Hay, an administration officer for plumbing and roof industry group training organisation TAPS. Picture: Mark Brake