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Office support workers are vital to business growth

27 January 2011

A new survey of almost 1,000 office support staff and their employers reveals that 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, competition is increasing which means workers need to do more to make themselves stand out in order to secure a job.

The survey from Hays, the leading recruiting expert, shows that while around one-third of organisations say office support workers make up less than five percent 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 that they will require office support workers with a greater variety of skills in the future. But competition for positions is increasing, with 62% of employers saying jobseekers need to do more to stand out. 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 that this couldn’t be further from the truth, with three-quarters of employers stating that they have seen an increase in people who are ‘over-qualified’ applying for positions. 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 that 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 that 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.

For further information and to access jobs visit

Hays currently holds over 1800 office support vacancies in the UK. Regional breakdowns are available on request.

About the survey
The Hays research spoke to over 776 office support workers in the UK, and 222 employers in December 2010 and January 2011.

About Hays
Hays plc (the "Group") is the leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Australia and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments.

As at 30 June 2010, the Group employed 6,845 staff operating from 270 offices in 28 countries across 17 specialisms.

For the year ended 30 June 2010:
– the Group reported net fees of £557.7 million and operating profit of £80.5 million;
– the Group placed around 50,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 180,000 people into temporary assignments;
– 26% of Group net fees were generated in Asia Pacific, 30% in Continental Europe & RoW and 44% in the United Kingdom & Ireland;
– the temporary placement business represented 58% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 42% of net fees;
– Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE and the United Kingdom.

Emma Price, Hays
T. 020 7259 8821