Personal and Executive Assistants overworked and underpaid, finds survey

Making plans for a Director’s wedding, locating 300 mink fur teddy bears and buying thermal underwear for the boss are just some of the more bizarre requests being carried out by Personal and Executive Assistants (PA/EAs) across the West Midlands.


PA-PM Launch

(l-r) Marlene James (key), Janine Peel (BDO) and Mary Hendry (Key)

The survey, carried out by recruitment specialist Key Personnel, also revealed 50% of respondents believe time management is the biggest daily challenge for them, followed by increased workload (29%) and issues with communication (8%).

Whilst more is being expected of the region’s PA/EA community, this is not being reflected in the pay packet, with only 30% reporting an increase in salary since the recession and 13% actually seeing a decrease.

In terms of social media, half of respondents use LinkedIn the most, with Facebook coming a close second with 41%. Surprisingly, twitter was only popular amongst 17% of individuals.

“We wanted to get a real feel for how PA/EAs are faring since the recession so decided to introduce this brief survey at the launch of our specialist networking event PA/PM,” explained Mary Hendry, Managing Director of Key.

“What it clearly shows is that they are being asked to do a lot more, often looking after four or five people instead of the historical one boss. This is causing issues with time management and adding a lot of pressure to a role that is already highly demanding.”

She continued: “And worryingly this is not being reflected in earnings, with 70% either having wages frozen or slightly cut. If this continues it could well force many Personal and Executive Assistants to look for alternative careers.”

The latest survey marked the launch of PA/PM, the region’s first networking event dedicated to the PA/EA community.

More than 50 of the city’s hidden business stars gave the backing to the concept, with guests from GVA Grimley, Birmingham City University, PwC and Fleet Street Kitchen descending on Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse.

The get together gave individuals the chance to share best practice, pick-up work tips and discuss the latest trends in the sector – all over a few drinks away from the office.

PA:PM, which is held once a quarter, has also launched across social media and has plans to add a guest speaker for future events.

Mary continued: “We were thrilled with the first event and how many people it attracted from both the public and private sector. There was a real vibe and sense that this ‘should have been done sooner’ so hopefully we’ll be able to add to the format and grow the community in the process.

“The next event has been organised for June 27th and will be held at the Metro Bar and Grill in Birmingham.”