How automation is impacting the administration industry
The secret to a well-functioning business usually starts with its office administration team. 

The backbone of a business, these skilled professionals are known for keeping business operations on track. While the Administration & Office Support industry is evolving due to increased automation, the latest data from SEEK Employment Trends shows demand for talent is on the rise.

SEEK job ads for Administration & Office Support were up by 20% year-on-year in April and the average advertised salary was $52,964.

Trina Jones, Director – Business Support at Hudson New Zealand, says demand for top admin talent is a sign of overall business confidence. 

“Key projects, seasonally busy periods and a low unemployment rate has had an impact on the competition in the market place, so candidates have more choice. Confidence continues in the economy, so businesses are prepared to make the right investment where needed.”

Emma Scott, Chief at recruitment agency Tribe, says current demand is seeing employers prioritise attitude over experience. 

“I have noticed that businesses aren’t as concerned about background in admin roles,” she says. 

“If a candidate can come in and be reliable and a committed learner, that will be enough to get them over the line. From a technology perspective, I would attribute this to systems being more intuitive and easier to pick up.”

The impact of automation

Digital technologies are having a transformative effect on industries including administration and office support. However, Shannon Barlow, New Zealand Managing Director of recruitment agency people2people, says technology should be viewed as an opportunity rather than a threat.

“With the development of technology, such as chatbots and artificial intelligence, we are seeing some administration functions, such as reception, document or contract preparation and customer queries, being handled by technology,” she says.

“However, this shouldn’t be seen as a threat as it allows people to focus on higher-level skills where the human factor is crucial.”

Jones adds that the increased use of technology is creating demand for different administrative skills. 

“Automation is well underway in many organisations, reducing human intervention, manual work and replication of tasks,” she says. 

“However, this shapes the type of person required for a role as the focus turns to managing exceptions that produce complexity and a different way of working.”

More administration opportunities

The latest data from SEEK shows job ads for office management roles rose by 23% year-on-year.  Jones attributes this to demand among the country’s small-to-medium business network. 

“The sizable SME market in New Zealand and confidence levels in economy is supporting the investment in this role type,” she says. 

“It is relevant mostly to a SME business as they effectively manage all support functions and form a key backbone of any organisation.”

Opportunities for receptionists were also up by 21% year-on-year. Jones says candidates value opportunities to progress into other roles within an organisation. 

“Career progression from reception to other support functions within an organisation is common and we have seen lots of examples where reception roles have come about due to a promotion,” she says. 

“Front-of-house continues to be a traditional requirement for all organisations, however we have also seen the evolution of reception roles to include administration functions, PA duties and accounts.”

The only role in the industry to record a year-on-year decline in job ads was data entry and word processing, which was down by 10%. 

Barlow attributes this to a growth in digital technologies. 

“The need for manual data entry has been greatly reduced by technology such as scanning, electronic parsing of information and customer self-service systems,” she says.

Attracting top admin talent

With opportunities on the rise for candidates in administration and office support, employers may need to work harder to attract and retain the best talent. 
Jones suggests starting with you employee value proposition.  “What’s in it for the candidate?” she says. 

“Think about your culture and opportunities for work-life balance, fun activities, working from home and the quality of your workspace.  Also, consider how engaging your company website is for attracting candidates. Consider using video to showcase culture.”

Barlow agrees that an employer brand plays an important role in talent engagement. 
“Give reasons to choose the office support role with your business over all the other available roles,” she says.

Jones adds that clear career pathways are valuable in attracting candidates in the industry. 

“Provide a framework around internal movement or promotion opportunities, clarity on this up front, profile success stories of others who have been promoted.”