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Admin Pro Forum

Share best-practices with your administrative peers. Pose a question, offer advice, or just be a fly on the wall.

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Question: I work in at a college and have a situation: One of my co-workers is very sensitive to smells (perfumes, colognes, etc.) and is often relocated to other workspaces to avoid headaches or becoming nauseous.

Her supervisor would like to put some type of sign around the area, notifying people that the area is fragrance-free. This will be posted inside the office (for other co-workers who wear perfumes to back off a little), as well as outside the office (for students/visitors who visit at the window).

What’s a nice way of wording a simple sign, without offending anyone?

Thanks!  -- Tami

Question: I would like to know what options others use for travel arrangements. I'm new to my position as Administrative Assistant and I want to make sure that I'm getting the best rate along with all of the qualifications that my boss asks. Does anyone have any suggestions? -- Gina

Question: We have a couple of new managers who have their laundry & dry cleaning delivered to the office. While their assistants (who are much younger than I) don't seem to mind schlepping laundry around for these gentlemen, to me, it reeks of "back to the '50s."   

I just have a real problem with personal deliveries of ANY kind, particularly since our company will not let employees receive or send PERSONAL deliveries from UPS, FedEx, etc., on premises. 

I'm curious to know if other companies have policies that cover laundry, and any suggestions for how to handle this matter in a tactful way.  -- Anonymous

Question: I work in an office where I am the senior administrative assistant to the senior vice president of our company. Five other administrative assistants in the office report to various directors and managers.

The senior vice president would like for me to mentor the five other administrative assistants. The other directors and managers see mentoring as my overseeing their work, which ultimately means that I am responsible for their work.

How do other offices handle this type of reporting structure? Does a 50/50 supervisory role over these admins really work? Or should the directors and managers take over seeing there admins and I am really only there to guide in general administrative questions?

I also see value in having the six of us meet on a monthly basis to go over what is happening in the office and what role they play (such as general administrative tasks). Will that just confuse them on whom they report to?  -- Jackie Smith

Question: In my company of approximately 125 people, all non-exempt personnel are required to punch a time clock. That was instituted by the boss's wife, who is the director of operations.

There are two executive assistants in the company. One supports the director of operations, and the other (me) supports the president. I did not like punching a time clock after almost 20 years as an executive assistant, but I could not get my company to change my classification. The assistant to the director of operations, however, is not required to punch in.

When I began to make waves about our both having the same title and both being non-exempt, the director of operations changed her assistant's title and made her exempt. That's because her assistant refused to punch in and said she would quit if she had to.

My boss is the president and founder, but he doesn't want to be involved in any of these issues, and I can't count on him for any help. Our HR is overseen by the director of operations, so there is no help for me there, either.

The company pays well and has fabulous benefits, bonus and a paid holiday shutdown. Besides that, I like my boss, and my job is very interesting. But I know I'm much more qualified and experienced than the other assistant, and I'm having a hard time dealing with her being salaried and my being non-exempt and punching a time clock.

I wonder if anyone might have any thoughts on this, and thanks.  -- Anonymous

Question: I am the executive assistant of a medium-size, 24-hour-operation, family-run healthcare company; this is my eighth year of working here.

Recently, the HR manager and I decided to change the format and distribution process of our corporate newsletter from once a week to once a month and from offline (print copies) to online (as all of our employees now have e-mail accounts). We've found that this saves paper, time and money for the company and that many members of management prefer to receive it this way.

We've also upgraded the quality, going from a two-page black & white publication with ho-hum, everyday news to a snazzy-color Microsoft Publisher newsletter complete with insightful articles about employees (including a monthly spotlight feature), corporate teamwork (quoted articles from sites like monster.com), and, of course the regular content (anniversaries, employees of the month, notes from the different divisions announcing meetings, kudos for a job well done, etc.).

We've also posted the newsletter on our Web site and e-mail out a link to all employees so they can read it whenever they want or download copies. Employees get every-day access to their e-mail accounts both at work and via Web mail when home.

The problem is, despite all our efforts, we've gotten the impression that no one is reading it. It's really important that people DO read it because it contains important information about mandatory procedure changes, meetings and the like.

Management wants the newsletter to keep being published, and we enjoy putting it together. We've tried putting in a monthly contest to get people to read the newsletter all the way through, but the rate of response is tremendously low, and we're finding that many people simply aren't checking their e-mail.

Short of going back to print copies (which we've left out for people to read ... which just get left out), and stuffing 250 copies of the newsletter into 250 paychecks once a month, what other ideas have other admins come up with to interest people in reading your corporate newsletter?

Feedback is much appreciated!  -- Frustrated in Upstate N.Y.

Question: There were quite a few responses to my request for an Excel timesheet that were requesting to receive copies of any samples, but some did not contain an e-mail address. My employer has a filter that won't permit me to post any additional comments on the message board, but I can reply to those who have provided an e-mail address.

If anyone wants to e-mail me directly, my address is jfaber1@columbus.gov. Thanks.  -- Joey Faber

Question: I have worked for my employer -- a large company with more than 1,400 employees -- for eight years now. When I started working here, the amount of contracts we processed yearly was manageable. More recently, the number of contracts processed annually has tripled, and keeping track of them has become a task that isn't really assigned to one person.

Getting a contract through the process and returned signed and completed takes constant reminders to the individual responsible for that particular contract. On average, we have to send four reminders to an individual for each contract to be reviewed or completed.

The executive assistant to the CEO has been undertaking much of the responsibility, and I have been pitching in when I have spare time, which is hardly ever.

Does anyone have an easy process to track contracts when routing for various signatures or reminding different managers/directors/VPs when a contract is due for renewal or review and then following up with them to make sure it was completed? Do you have one person who over sees this task? What is his or her title? Does he or she have any other job duties?  -- Lindsay Anderson

Question: We have two or three regional meetings a year, and my boss -- the EVP -- likes to have employees' comments after each meeting. He wants to know if they feel that they benefited from attending; to rate the presentations/speakers; to see if they feel we can do something better or improve on; and, of course, for their suggestions for future meetings. He also wants them to be "anonymous" so employees feel they can comment how they like and not how they think we want.

I have searched the Web numerous times -- even Microsoft templates -- to find a feedback/comment card template, etc., but have come up empty-handed. Does anyone have any suggestions and/or templates of their own they can send?

Additionally, because employees have no time at the meetings to give us their comments back, they will need to take the forms with them and submit them once completed. Do you have any suggestions on how to go about this so when they're returned to me, via U.S. mail, I won’t be able to know whom or where they came from?

Thanking you in advance for your any assistance I receive.  -- Brenda, bsamartino@kimcorealty.com

Question: How is everyone preparing for the flu season? Do you provide flu shots to all employees at your company, bringing in a nurse to do it onsite? Do you reimburse those who get flu shots out of the office? Do you take any other preventative measures within the company?

We hand out alcohol and disinfectant wipes to employees to use in their areas throughout the winter season. We are considering providing flu shots.  -- D.L., Philadelphia

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