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Are there some admin tasks you consider truly beneath you?

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Question: "I don't mind doing a lot of the repetitive and humdrum things that need to be done as an admin, but once in a while things come along—like cleaning the windows of my boss's office or running out to buy ice cream for a meeting that went on longer than it should have—that make me feel like they're really just personal favors I'm obligated to do. Does anyone else get frustrated with the truly petty tasks?" - Barb, Customer Service and Fulfillment

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{ 64 comments… read them below or add one }

Es May 22, 2017 at 12:54 pm

Same here i feel so bad….
When i was hired we had a cleaner only for my boss to fire her and tell me to be cleaning,i accepted because i need the money.
Only to find my boss giving me his personal towel which he uses it to shower i wash it. And in our company we dont have a washing machine so i am using my hands yet he dint ask politely…..Its so sad that a boss would do such a thing and yet we have to tolerate all that ****.


OldAdmin June 3, 2017 at 12:58 am

Es, I SO hear you.
For the first 14 years at my company, I was a skilled, specialized, Exec. Asst. (with a BS from a good school) to a Senior VP who inexplicably began to hate me and issue horrible performance evaluations. Like you, I need the job, so I used my health insurance to see a shrink who helped me to walk past the open windows until I managed a transfer to another department. Now my job consists of cleaning sinks and counters, buying groceries, cleaning refrigerators… and now I hear that they’re having a washer/dryer installed, so I’ll be doing laundry (tablecloths, napkins).
Ya. I have to tolerate this because I have been with this company for 16 years. I am past 60years old and with 16 years of incremental and cost of living raises, I doubt I will be able to match my salary with another company.
I don’t have children, but I make sure to tell any young person I encounter to NOT NOT NOT become any kind of “administrative professional”.
Hang in there, Es.


Cassie December 5, 2016 at 10:09 am

So, I am also late to this discussion.

I wanted to see if anyone else has dealt with the kinds of things I do. I feel like I single-handedly keep my boss’s office running. It’s a small business, and so it’s just one attorney and me. When I first started, there was a paralegal and duties were split between us. Now, it is just me. There are tasks that I understand such as bookkeeping, filing, reception, mail processing, client service, intake for clients, billing, data management, supply management, office management, etc. But then there are the tasks that I am thinking are just plain below me.

I understand making coffee, and maybe even bringing my boss coffee. However, it seems to me as if the man is incapable of lifting a single finger for himself.

I wash his dishes by hand. We don’t have a sink and even though I cleared it with building management, he won’t let me wash them in the sink in the bathroom. So I have to boil water, pour it into a bucket, wash his nasty caked on plates and dishes and then rinse them and dry them and put them away.

To give an example of how he refuses to lift a finger:

Once, there was something in front of the cabinet where we put our dirty dishes (I say our, but I use none of the dishes, so it’s only him — and he uses about 2 plates, 2 glasses and a coffee cup as well as silverware a day) and so he set his dirty coffee cup on my desk instead of moving the small trash can, opening the cabinet and putting it in there.

He also was once walking out of a room, and asked me to close the door. He then went into his office and shut the door. So, instead of closing the door behind himself while he was up, I had to get up from my desk, walk over to the door, and close it.

Does this sound normal to you guys?


Lynn March 21, 2017 at 2:13 pm

No. He reminds me of my children when they were small. You need to sit down with him, and discuss your concerns. If he’s not willing to behave like an adult, you need to think about whether you want to work for a child.


Grace November 30, 2016 at 3:10 pm

Hi all,

I am late to this convo but am hoping for a response. I have been working as an EA for 7 months at a small company where there aren’t always administrative duties for me to do. However, my boss has asked me to start cleaning up and organizing the office which seems reasonable enough, but now he is also asking me to walk our garbage to the dumpster about .2 miles away from the office. We have a cleaning person come once a week, but since we’ve hired so many people it is no longer enough and we have more garbage during the week.

I used to be a personal assistant and took this job specifically to get out of the cleaning role. I think it is a slippery slope when people realize you are cleaning up after them and they can leave things wherever they want and you will get in trouble if you don’t pick them up.

I’m just trying to figure out if I am being haughty and entitled and having a bad attitude, or if I am just trying to establish myself in a professional role that commands respect and am not a glorified cleaning person. I really can’t tell. Maybe a bit of both.


Cassie December 5, 2016 at 10:10 am

I personally wouldn’t want to haul garbage .2 miles from the office. Cleaning up a bit, sure, but that seems like something someone who is paid to clean should be doing.


Cherie May 24, 2017 at 3:58 pm

Remember that if you’re using your personal vehicle to drive the trash to the dump, you are entitled to be reimbursed for the mileage. Although at 0.54 per mile it doesn’t add up to much, it’s important to keep your boss and the company legally accountable for these types of requests.


Emily June 24, 2016 at 1:35 pm

I have the opposite question. Are there any personal skills you feel your employer is not entitled to access considering your pay/job description?

This may sound like an odd question to 20-somethings who are learning most skills on the job and will do anything asked of them. But what about those of us with sophisticated hobbies or returning to the workplace with a lot more to bring to the table?

For example, I was a network technician before taking 10 years off to stay home with my kids. I recently took a part time admin assistant job just to get back out in the world. It pays $12 and I am fine with that wage in exchange for general office duties. But am starting to feel a little resentful of the things they are asking of me. I took this job so I can come in twice a week, do some low stress data-entry, and computer work, and then leave it behind when I go home for the day (they only want me to work 8 hours a week). Now I am getting emails at all hours of the day, every day of the week asking for computer help. I can provide the help… but why should I? At first I didn’t appreciate them intruding on my time and informed them I was going to bill them like a lawyer (a two minute email gets billed 15 minutes). But even still they would rather pay me $3 a call than hire professional IT support (we are a really small company). So when things didn’t get better, I told them that I was creating a Google Voice number just for them and all correspondence (e-mails, texts, calls) would be addressed during my normal work hours. Now they are being testy with me. Seriously though? What gives them the right to access my $50/hr skills, round the clock for $12/hr?!

If you can’t relate to that, imagine you did woodworking as a hobby and that you were able to sell beautiful tables for $3,000 each. (It’s not your full-time job because you only like doing it on occasion). Would your employer have the right to say, “Hey, I heard you build tables, I brought in the tools… build one for us and we’ll pay you your hourly wage for it.” You’ll probably net a couple hundred bucks. We can all agree that is wildly inappropriate right? So why are we berating people who refuse to do other jobs not in their job description just because they are physically capable of it?

Some things are just not right. It’s one thing to do a favor for someone and everyone recognizes it as a favor and there is mutual respect and appreciation all around. But just agreeing to do whatever you are told simply because you are on the clock is ignorant, sets a bad precedent, and gets people taken advantage of.


Cherie May 24, 2017 at 4:05 pm

If you are an hourly, non exempt, employee, your company is required to pay you time and one-half for any work/calls performed after your normal work schedule. Furthermore, the requests they’re asking beyond the normal scope of your job that should be outlined in a written job description sound like they are tasks typically performed by an exempt employee under either the FLSA Administrative Exemption Analysis or the FLSA Computer Exemption Analysis. I would refer to those documents and discuss either an increase and/or exempt status with your employer.


Wendy March 17, 2016 at 3:25 pm

After seeing some these responses, it seems to me that some you aren’t even administrative assistants. Or if you are, you think it’s wrong to get frustrated and complain about the job. Frustration is ok. We’re humans and not perfect. No one is whining by doing so.

Also, I think you got off topic with this going the extra mile. The topic is “Is anyone else frustrated by petty tasks”? it’s not a matter of being someone willing to “go the extra mile” or “do what it takes”. We wouldn’t be admins if we didn’t have that type of personality and drive.

However, my answer to the question is yes. I sometimes do get frustrated with small, petty things. An example is the guys not making coffee. They will leave an inch in the pot and the burner on. The mentality there is “I’m not drinking it any more. Why make a pot?” I view this as not so much “the admin should do it” but a complete lack of concern over any clients that might show up. Another example is that one of my bosses (I have 4 and am admin to 12 other people) has rental properties. I am expected to take checks-even cash!-from his renters. That is definitely not in my job description. He knows this makes me uncomfortable but do I make the renter leave and not take the money? No. I handle it. Does it frustrate me? You bet.


Anna January 21, 2016 at 9:04 am

I sense a lot of hostility in some of these messages and would advise that some of you need to check yourselves.

Falling on the fact that some tasks are not in your job description is so lame. Haven’t you heard of the term “and other duties”? A bad attitude will not only quickly earn you the reputation of someone who doesn’t work well with others, i.e. a nasty pain in the &^%, but will put you at the top of the list of people to be overlooked for promotions, raises, perks, etc. It might also get you fired. Most states can fire staff at will which means they don’t need a reason to do so.

I’d bet those who do what some here have deemed “door mat” tasks for their execs (sans toilet cleaning and window washing, mind you!) are treated and paid far, far better than those who don’t. Fair compensation for a can-do, TEAM PLAYER mind set, don’t you think?


Cathy January 21, 2016 at 9:56 am

Anna, I don’t get a sense of “hostility” in any of the replies. I have an “other duties” in my job description but those other duties do not include being a personal assistant to my boss or cleaning toilets or washing windows. Not doing those sort of things does not mean anyone of us has a “bad attitude” and it does not mean that we are not Team Players…it means that we value our jobs as Administrative Assistants. I get paid very well with great benefits, I work well with others, I’m never been overlooked when it comes to raises and bonuses, and I don’t have a reputation for being a “nasty pain in the &^%”. In other words, I totally disagree with everything you said.


Anna January 21, 2016 at 11:33 am

You are most certainly welcome to your opinion, Cathy. And how gracious of you to share it here. What I had to say is just that as well, an opinion. I wasn’t asking for anyone to agree with me.


Caitlyn March 18, 2016 at 11:17 am

Anna, you remind me of my current manager. She was hired by the company to do what it takes to keep the business running, and to her that means assigning me all management tasks, my own tasks, and even other department’s tasks. I think she hates me because I can do all the tasks. She can’t even drive herself to work let a lone do her job. She gets hostile if you ask any questions, automatically thinks I’m complaining…when every moment I’m around her she’s complaining about everything and everyone. Only time she does her job is when upper management comes to visit..I don’t mind window washing or occasionally helping her and other departments when I can. I just have a hard time working for bare minimum people.


Lisa January 20, 2016 at 8:00 pm

Some of these comments make for the saddest, most resigned reading I’ve come across lately. Trying hard and doing the best you can is, of course, something to be respected for, but “going the extra mile” was likely a piece of jargon created by some sociopath who wanted to turn taking advantage of an employee into a “sign of loyalty” – someone who likely thought, “hmm, I bet I can save a couple hundred bucks a week if I fire the cleaning crew and get Heather to clean those toilets. I’ll remind her that we really like when someone’s a ‘team player’ and ‘going the extra mile’ around here.” Gross.

There is absolutely no reason I can think of that makes an *admin* assistant cleaning toilets or picking up the boss’ dry cleaning OK if it wasn’t explicitly stated in a job description. I wouldn’t do this to any of my employees because it’s just wrong. And trust me, they know it is and they don’t care.

Also, for those of you putting down those with valid concerns about their treatment, telling them to “suck it up”: good luck with your life of door-mattery, and I promise you that as long as you let the world keep pooping on you, it will.


Cherie May 24, 2017 at 4:20 pm

You’re correct. The term “All Other Duties as Assigned” in a job description means all other duties that are within the scope of the written job description. If cleaning, and manual labor tasks are not within the written job description then “All Other Duties Assigned” can be argued by the employee. For example, if the job description states typing as an expected duty then additional typing assignments such as working with additional software programs or drafting additional documents is a relevant additional duty. However, if the job description is for administrative tasks (typing, filing, answering phones, accounting tasks, etc.) then requesting the administrative employee to perform laundry, toilet cleaning, carpentry work, etc. is outside of the normal scope of the job description.


kevin January 20, 2016 at 11:33 am

I say don’t be annoyed with being ask to do things. It means that your boss trust you to complete the task and assist. I would die for someone to ask me to assist them in the small things, but they never do.


Erin June 1, 2017 at 2:47 pm

Hey Kevin, grow a ******; you won’t have to wait long to be asked to do all sorts of menial tasks.


Shawn Lanphere October 8, 2015 at 4:23 pm

I work at a University and do administrative support for ten professors. The word of the day is respect. And it goes both ways. I am more willing to go the extra inch for someone who shows me respect. Cleaning up after a meeting, it was business, you clean. Picking up dry cleaning, what are the reasons that cause the conflict of them picking it up? Would it be out of my way? Why can’t their significant other do it? Why exactly do they want it picked up? Are they wearing it the next day? If they just don’t have time, then no. If it is on my way, yes, I might, but I would have to leave early. If they won’t ask their significant other to pick it up then they shouldn’t ask you to do it. If they aren’t going to wear it tomorrow, then no. Before you refuse to do a task, look at the back ground behind the request.

I have not been asked to wash windows, scrub a toilet, or return a movie, but I have been asked to type up a personal medical history from hand written notes. At first, it wasn’t so bad, just the basics. I looked at it as just being general information. Well, it became greatly detailed and I wanted no part. I saved what I had already completed and returned the rest. Not only had the information gotten gross, but it was also putting me on the spot. What if I was asked later about his health condition and if I had had prior knowledge to anything. As his administrative assistant it was not appropriate for me to have that kind of knowledge.


Shawn Lanphere October 8, 2015 at 3:56 pm

On those requests Julie, there is a limit. Again, respect comes in to play. It sounds as if you being dis-respected on a large scale.


Kimberley Cece March 30, 2015 at 11:39 am

I concur Lori. In today’s environment we are all asked to do a little extra and depending on what that extra is…it is worth it to let your superiors know that you appreciate that you have a job at all. This doesnt mean you still cannot say, “Can we talk about any future occasions when this might come up again and maybe reach an understanding about it?” Which is a great segway into, “we can discuss this during my review and perhaps consider adding a bit more to my salary…”


AdministrativeNinja March 30, 2015 at 11:19 am

I’m the Executive Assistant to a founding member/Executive Director of an international organization. Our office doesn’t have a kitchen with running water so people have gotten very comfortable with dirtying dishes, bugs and utensils and leaving them around for someone else to wash.

As someone that is as seasoned as I am and good at my job I have done my fair share of menial but work appropriate tasks such as buying a spread for an early morning meeting, making a run to make spare sets of keys, etc.

However, they have recently started to ask me to tidy up the office (not terrible and not a problem for me) and wash the dishes. Now, I have no problem tidying up the the space but as for washing the dishes I draw a hard line at. Washing dishes is not a professional task and it’s certainly not appropriate given my experience, job description and educational level.

I didn’t work this hard on my career to start washing dishes. If that is what they wanted they should have added this to my job description so could have been a little more informed before applying and accepting. At the end of the day, this duty belongs to a cleaning person.


Maria September 18, 2014 at 8:48 pm

Even in the military, “personal servitude” was a no-no. I am with the admins here who say being forced to tasks that are not a recognized part of your job description as an administrative assistant is inappropriate. I don’t make getting or making coffee but cleaning toilets or something really immoral or illegal? That’s where I would draw the line!


Melissa April 11, 2014 at 2:09 pm

These days you have to have at minimum a Bachelor degree to be an administrative assistant and most of the time the job pays between $10 -$15 an hour (at least in So Cal). I did not learn how to do dishes, scrub toilets or do windows in college – if I knew I was going to be doing that, I don’t know why I needed to get a college education. So yes, I consider getting the bosses personal errands done and cleaning the office to be someone else’s job! If you want me to do those things, you can double my pay and add weekly manicures and new clothes because the office professional dress code does not take into account the bleach from the cleaning products!


Chris Male March 13, 2014 at 8:27 am

I think the most non-administrative task I ever did was laying fitted carpet in my office. It was a small company without maintenance staff and I got to choose the carpet and improve my own environment!


LaTanya February 21, 2014 at 4:18 pm

I definitely take a different stance when it comes to this subject. I have read most of the comments on here and I say cuddos to those admins who don’t mind cleaning toilets, washing windows, and such. I on the other hand won’t be doing such things unless I apply for a job that clearly defines that I should be expected to do these types of tasks. I espect the majority of what I do in this field to be administrative in nature. I have learned throughout my career that people will treat you the way you allow them to treat you. There is nothing wrong with me occassionally making a coffee or lunch run for my boss; heck, I have even picked up medicine and dry cleaning before because of a meeting that went over and the pharmacy or cleaners closed early. But, the other stuff, it’s not about being beneath me, it’s about do I want to do that stuff and the answer is no! If I wanted to clean a window or a toilet, like some of the other admins said, I would be a janitor. The relationship I have with my boss determines just how much I will go above and beyond because I’ve also been in situations where I had bosses who asked me to do certain things because they were power tripping too. Some bosses barely said good morning, but you want me to schedule a trip to the dentist for your child, and book your personal travel for you and your family and I am not even a personal assistant? Why can’t your wife handle that. I don’t feel that being thankful for a job is an excuse to allow people to treat me as though I am not only their admin, but their personal assistant, janitor, chef, etc. I ask questions upfront to understand what the expectations are and that is how I determine what type of environment, or person I want to support. It’s not about thinking I am above those things moreso than it is about what the person who is asking thinks about me in this role. Yes I could save them 5 or 10 minutes by doing certain things for them, but the types of things I signed up to save them from doing are administrative in nature and should be related to the job, not janitorial, personal chef, etc. If you don’t draw the line, then yes, you will be cleaning toilets and all of that. It’s not about making another admin feel as though they are foolish for not taking that perspective about their job because we all know that there is a lot of stuff people ask us to do because they really don’t want to do it and feel that it is beneath them due to their title or position, and this is whether they have the time to do it themselves or not. Why is it that they can be above certain things but we cannot. I don’t want to clean a toilet any more than you. We have an entire facilities team here at my job to clean toilets, windows, etc. I’m just not that type of Admin. I’ve spent 16 years as an Executive Assistant and Office Manager, and I’ve never been asked to do those types of things and I think it would make me question how my boss views and respects me if I was asked to clean the toilets and windows as well. That is just my take on things, and I’ve never had a problem with maintaining employment being this way.


Cathy February 24, 2014 at 8:11 am

What you wrote is the point I was trying to make, LaTanya. Thank you!


Trisha February 21, 2014 at 8:48 am

While driving in this morning, the radio station I listen too asked listeners to call in to tell them one of the worst parts of their job and the djs had to guess what their job was. A woman called in to say that she removes condoms from pants pockets, feces from walls, and urine from clothing. Would you believe she said that her job is an administrative assistant (she didn’t say where, but I’m guessing a very small nursing home???).

After hearing that, I would be ecstatic to wash a window or wash a car anytime!


Cathy February 21, 2014 at 8:23 am

I have posted here already but . . . I told my boss (the company’s owner) about this forum question and he said “Now that you mention it, my truck windows have a lot of salt on it, how about running out there and taking care of that for me?” and he started laughing. He couldn’t believe that a boss would ask his administrative assistant to do anything on a personal level or ask them to do something that he could hire someone to do, or do himself. If you feel comfortable and appreciated when asked to do something on a personal level for your boss or when you’re asked to clean the office or windows, that’s fine. I don’t consider it menial or beneath me, I just do not consider part of my job as an Administrative Assistant. And I bet Barb didn’t expect such a varied response to her question :)


Katalin February 21, 2014 at 2:48 am

I work in a law firm. My mindset is, and always will be, that if I save five or ten minutes time for any of the lawyer with whatever has to be done they can make more money during thos five or ten minutes and this benefits the company and I get paid more in the end. Additionally, it is more likely they will continue to include admins in the company ski trips to the Alps if they make a healthy profit …

However, I agree with Renee that I want to feel appreciated. If I didn’t I would definitely be less likely to help out.



Sue February 17, 2014 at 3:24 pm

I have been an Administrative Assistant for almost 40 years. In my current position I have finally been asked to do the one “job” that I consider too menial for me – cleaning the office because my employer has decided that the cleaning company charges too much! This “job” I refuse to do. I wasn’t hired nor am I being paid to be the cleaning service.


Lori February 17, 2014 at 9:51 am

While I can understand that those jobs seem menial, I’m inclined to say “suck it up”. I really don’t get the excuse “it’s not my job”. Truthfully, it probably isn’t part of your job but if you are fortunate enough to have a good job and a good boss, you likely didn’t get there by saying “it’s not my job”. You got there because people see you as someone who goes the extra mile. If you were being asked to do these things off the clock, then I would think differently, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case. I’m an Admin too and I see on of my duties as keeping my boss looking good. If that means washing smudges off his windows, I’d do it in a heartbeat because if my boss doesn’t look good, neither do it. Besides that, I don’t do all the little extras because they are in my job description; I do them because of good old-fashioned kindness. I think when we start to see jobs as menial or “beneath us” it’s time to step down off the pedestal.


Trisha February 17, 2014 at 10:13 am

Bravo, Lori! Very well said.


Terron February 20, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Agreed, Lori. Well put!


Dot March 30, 2014 at 5:03 pm

It’s about mutual respect. When mutual respect exists between a boss and his admin, I don’t believe he or she will ask you to do ridiculous things. When there is no respect, some people will run all over you. Some will do it just to see how far you will go tripping over yourself just to keep your job. I have picked up airline lines, lunch, coffee and even typed a former bosses’ wife’s resume even though she had her own secretary. However, that boss and I had an understanding that what I did for him was a courtesy/favor and definitely not required. A personal assistant and admin assistant are not the same. Admins have to determine their bosses expectations upfront and then let their standards be known.


Lisa January 20, 2016 at 7:47 pm

If you’re available to lay in front of my front door so I can wipe my shoes off before coming inside, I’m hiring.


Erin June 1, 2017 at 3:30 pm

I concur. Starting to sound a tad too Stepford-esque for me too.


LP April 21, 2016 at 11:32 am

“Going the extra mile” means doing work-related tasks that are not your assignments – pitching in when another employee’s workload will be detrimental to the work outcomes of the group, learning to do a new task so you can fill in when another employee is out of the office, going to training so you can be a good information resource when someone new joins the office. Going the extra mile doesn’t mean cleaning up after grown people who are too lazy to be bothered cleaning up after themselves or spending company time being a personal shopper for someone else. Ask yourself: if I owned this company, would I be happy to be paying Becky to go pick up Bill’s dry cleaning instead of doing her job? Would I want to pay Jill to type up Sara’s kid’s medical report on my time? If the answer is ‘no,’ that I think Sara and Bill need to start doing their personal tasks themselves on their personal time, then I don’t do the task. I am a civil servant and taxpayers pay my salary. As a taxpayer, I would not want my money to go to paying an employee who is doing anything but the job my taxes pay them to do. If the job I am paying them to do is write correspondence, balance budgets, and hire caterers, they darn sure better not be away from the office being a personal shopper so their boss can get home earlier rather than have to stop at Target to buy his wife a gift. As for cleaning toilets, there is no way I am risking catching hepatitis or other blood-borne pathogens in a public toilet because my office is too cheap to hire a janitorial service to do this task. Hiring a janitorial service is the cost of doing business and should be in the budget. If it is not, you need to question the viability of your company for not including basic services in their budget – if they can’t plan for something as basic as janitorial service, what ‘big picture’ items are they slacking in?


Erin June 1, 2017 at 3:32 pm

LP, you are SO right.


Jackie February 17, 2014 at 9:48 am

Reading through some of the comments listed above, I think that most would have not liked to follow me in my career. I have worked for small businesses (5-15 people) for half of my admin career. Currently, I work for a small business from a branch office and currently work under 10 Partners, which have titles such as President, PIC’s, and Studio Directors. Out of six admin staff, I am the only one that has the actual Administrative title. The tasks that I do consist of unclogging toilets and scrubbing floors and windows to arranging travel itineraries and business conferences and expos. Do I sometimes wish I made more money – you bet, and it may not be in my job description, but it is all part of my job. In my current office, I am the only girl out of six employees and who do they come to when something needs fixed – me. I am the only one that carries a full blown tool kit in the back of my car. It has been used more times than I care to mention. I have even been called to a restaurant with my own jumper cables to jump start my bosses truck. I am very much a girlie girl – but my mother and father raised me to be very versatile and self efficient when needed. Happy to be of service whereever I am needed!


Diane February 20, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Good to hear! I have a full blown tool kit in my truck, too. I also have a smaller version in my desk drawer. :)


Kimberley Plachta February 17, 2014 at 9:39 am

I remember one of the questions I was asked at my interview for the job I have now..”What was the most menial task you have ever done at your last places of employment?”
I knew when that question came out that I could expect to perform menial tasks in the future and I embraced it.
We are not only administrators and customer service people for our external customers, but also for our internal customers, ..meaning our co workers and managers and supervisors. No one is above going that extra mile when asked. It shows your devotion and loyalty and puts your co workers at ease when they need something and cannot or will not do it themselves. Sure there are limits, but how often are you really asked to perform “menial” tasks? I say being employed in a slow economy is something to be happy about and an attitude of gratitude goes a long way. Try to practice this and move on.


Erin June 1, 2017 at 3:57 pm

You sound like someone who’s been fortunate enough to not be devalued and degraded by the lazy so and so’s at work who get off treating you like their personal maid. Lucky you.


PJ June 25, 2017 at 7:10 am

I work in a school as a secretary. Another secretary in another office thinks it’s okay to collect her and her supervisor’s (and anyone else’s) dirty dishes on a tray and when the tray is full calls a teacher aide to get the tray and wash the dishes. How does everyone feel about this?


Wendy September 7, 2017 at 2:30 pm

Noooo. That is not right at all. Teacher’s aides are just that. This person doesn’t sound like she knows what personal responsibility is.


Jenny February 14, 2014 at 4:38 pm

There is a difference between a task “being beneath” you and that task being menial. When something is beneath you, you’ve decided that you are better than the position you are in and the people around you. We all, as Admins, do menial tasks everyday. We make copies, do the filing, make the coffee, order supplies, etc. Those are basic, menial admin tasks. As we move on and up in our Admin positions we forget that those things still need to get done everyday despite how busy we get doing the important things for our bosses. My bosses now are famous for telling me “we don’t pay you to get us coffee!” I repspond to them, ” the company doesn’t pay you to waste that 10 minutes at the coffee machine making coffee when you could be working on a project, that’s what I’m here for. I help you be more efficient”.


Julie February 14, 2014 at 4:04 pm

You mean like getting them water and heating up and serving their lunch? Or how about planning their personal vacations and returning movies? Beneath me no…part of my job description, I think NOT!


Cathy February 14, 2014 at 2:54 pm

I must have been very blessed with my bosses over the years. Not once was I asked to do anything like wash windows, etc. And I do go above and beyond in my business-related tasks each and every day (so I’ve been told by my boss). I think that being asked and/or expected to perform that type of non-business related chore, and thinking it’s just fine and should be done with a smile (and some resentment), devalues our position as Admin Assistants. In my mind, it turns us into maids and janitors, and that’s definitely not anywhere in my job title.


Paula February 17, 2014 at 9:47 am

I agree with you Cathy. I believe that we need to do certain tasks to make our leaders more efficient but I don’t think something like personal tasks (unless you are a Personal Assistant) is part of an Admin Assistant’s job. We need to maintain that our role is one that is professional and should be respected as such. If we don’t, they won’t either!


Trisha February 14, 2014 at 1:42 pm

The overall nature of being in any admin role is going above and beyond… always. Whether it be preparing that exemplary financial report for the board, picking up dry cleaning, or, yes, even washing those windows (and I’d bet that was probably done because so-and-so in maintenance was not available at that very second when the boss wanted it done)… it’s all part of what we are here to do.

Don’t get me wrong… there are plenty of tasks I find menial and yes, I resent the hell out of doing them at times. I’m not a drone. But try to keep in mind that the one thing we do best, and only WE can do it, is save our executives’ TIME. Not to mention, we also make them look their best regardless of the situation.

Hang tough, everyone. We’ve all been there… done that. Even if some don’t want to freely admit it.


Diane February 14, 2014 at 11:59 am

I don’t mind running and shopping for food and/or supplies for a long meeting. That seems appropriate, as it is all business-related. As long as I am able to charge the company for the food/supplies and get reimbursed for using my vehicle, I’m good.

Fixing clothing? One of my hobbies is sewing, and I don’t mind mending clothing as long as I’m given time to do it and paid as a tailor to do it. The people I work with do exactly that: They ask me if I have time, and they pay me (out of their own pocket, not the company’s) when the job is done.

Washing windows? Well, we have a vendor that cleans and maintains our building and furniture. I have been chastised for fixing/cleaning things that are beyond maintaining my own workspace or even what they consider appropriate (yes, I’ve unclogged toilets, but I didn’t want others to have to wait a day or so to use it), so I’ve stopped doing that. The next time someone would like their windows cleaned or need something fixed, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “I’ll be happy to get ‘***’ to do that for you.” Then contact the vendor to do just that.


Lori in PA February 20, 2014 at 5:22 pm

I use Diane’s approach. In a pinch, I’ll do just about anything. However, if it is not URGENT and I can get XYZ to handle it, that’s what I do. I consider it my job to do MY job and be available to handle matters that are pressing to the business. Professionalism and delegation skills are just as valuable as a good window washer!


Stephanie February 14, 2014 at 10:44 am

I look at it this way: I’m paid by the hour at a wage that I consider appropriate for my skills and abilities. There is no job that is beneath me or anyone else, in my opinion. If I’m asked to spend time sweeping the floor at this wage, I’ll do it cheerfully. It’s up to us to ensure we are being paid a wage consistent with our capabilities, and up to management to ensure they are spending our time (their money) wisely. Now, if you are a salaried employee that is working over 40 hours to get a lot of stuff done that is more appropriately done by janitorial or other staff, I would expect that to be a problem for you. As the other comments indicate, it depends on the circumstances.


Kathy February 14, 2014 at 10:04 am

I’m the executive assitant to the CEO. For me it’s not whether the tasks are menial or not; it’s whether they’re appropriate or not. There are plenty of menial tasks that are appropriate. A meeting runs late and they want ice cream or lunch? Absolutely. Or the conference room has to refreshed after that same meeting because someone else will be in there in five minutes? You bet. But cleaning the office windows? I’ll call the maintenance contractor and have it put on the list. Personal errands (shopping or laundry pick-up)? Nope.

That being said, I work for a large non-profit organization and my boss (a woman) is not free to use me in any which way. If this were her business and I were her executive assistant, those personal tasks might very well be part of the expectation.


Cathy February 14, 2014 at 10:03 am

As a clarification, I don’t think those chores are beneath me, I just don’t consider them part of the job.


Cathy February 14, 2014 at 8:18 am

I cannot believe how many Admins think it’s okay to wash windows, pickup laundry, sew trousers, etc. I’m an Administrative Assistant/Assistant to the Vice President. Nobody has ever asked me to do personal favors for them . . . not the managers, not the technical staff, and not my boss. If a meeting runs long and I’m asked to run out for lunch, I consider that part of the job. If anyone would ask me to wash their windows, sew their trousers, or go pick up their laundry, I’d refuse. I’m not a personal assistant, I’m an Admin Assistant. Doing personal chores for somebody, no matter what their position on the Org Chart, is not in my job description. And, Barb, it shouldn’t be in yours.


Deb February 17, 2014 at 11:07 am

Cathy, I totally agree — and thanks for posting your response. While reading some of the other responses, I was starting to think I was a terrible person because I don’t do a lot of these personal and/or janitorial things mentioned. And it has not hurt my career. I have a very responsible, good-paying job. Thanks again, Cathy!


Joyce February 13, 2014 at 7:08 pm

I’ve sewn rips in suits, washed dishes, picked up laundry, written procedures and worked on complicated reports that even managers couldn’t figure out. My pay isn’t based on task. As long as I get paid, AND my boss actually appreciates what I do and not take it for granted I think I’m okay. If you think it’s petty it probably is; but if you think you’re helping your boss out so they can focus on bigger things and making them look good having such a dedicated assistant, you’re probably right. The key though is sincere appreciation; without it everything that is “other duties as assigned” seems petty.


Robin February 13, 2014 at 6:14 pm

I think the successful admin will go above and beyond the scope of her/his job description for little things that come up in the office. I do not mind running errands or doing menial tasks because I am appreciated at my job and am told that frequently. I believe doing these tasks with a cheerful manner makes one stand out and shine. Let go of the anger and frustration and see where your willingness to assist will take you.


DeeCee February 13, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Our firm administrator always set a great example for doing whatever needed to be done. I never minded doing menial tasks because I knew she would have done them. She never acted like anything was beneath her. Sometimes those menial tasks are necessary. But I agree that you need to be appreciated for whatever work you do.


Susan February 13, 2014 at 5:00 pm

I have a great paying job working for a CEO. What got me here was my willingness to always do whatever was needed over the years. Some days I’m working on our strategic plan and some days I’m fetching coffee. It all pays the same, but appreciation goes a long way!


Renee February 13, 2014 at 4:49 pm

I always tell my bosses that I will do whatever is asked as long as I am appreciated. I don’t mind doing menial tasks as long as they are not expected. There’s a big difference (at least to me) in “oh just leave your dishes for Renee to clean up” and “Wow, we ran over on that meeting and I don’t have time, Renee, would you mind cleaning up the conference room?” . The second is usually accompanied later by “Thanks for cleaning that up. I appreciate it.”


Sandra June 5, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Wow, Renee, you are lucky that you get that kind of verbal acknowledgement. I am not thanked *at all* and sometimes I allow it to get to me. Like so many of the other people here, I strive to do what’s asked of me and a little bit more every single day. It’s my job. I always picture a line of 10 people outside the front door, waiting to take my job if I don’t want it anymore. That’s usually enough of a motivator. But it would just be nice to get a “thank you” every now and then. I don’t need a dozen roses every time I go above and beyond, but a simple sentence of sincere appreciation goes so far in making an admin feel as if she’s respected and valued. *sigh* :-(


CS February 13, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Barb, honey, are you kidding me? Washing windows in your bosses office? Do you not have cleaning people for that? That is WAY beyond other duties as assigned! I hope he pays you very well..


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