CEO Advisory


Michelle Bowditch

Over the last two years, we have seen a shift in how the role of a Front of House reception is perceived. Evolving technology and insights into how the face of the business operates allow businesses to amplify their impact on the customer experience and in our candidate short market, employers desperate to secure the cream of the crop are enticing candidates with signing bonuses of up to $17,000 in some cases.

The role of ‘Receptionist’ is now considered a career as opposed to being a fill-in job between school and university. Employers are now seeing these roles as senior team members of the company who are required to possess leadership qualities and skillsets they haven’t needed in the past. As traditional administrative tasks become more automated through technology, these roles are evolving into trusted business partners with high demand for emotional intelligence, digital literacy, and strategic thinking.

From Receptionist to Front of House Manager

Our research has shown that over the last two years, the role of receptionist has evolved not only in the duties required to fulfil the role but also in the way in which these roles are referred to.

No longer confined to the front desk, where they are expected to smile sweetly, grab coffees, answer calls, and connect customers to the relevant team member. In 2022, these positions act as ambassadors for the business, offering tailored approaches and services that enhance the brand and improve the customer experience.

The inclusion of technology takes the reception function from a clunky and somewhat disconnected role to a streamlined, high-end point of connection that has its finger on the pulse of the customer and the business.

Changing Perceptions Of The Role

Previously, it was perceived that being a receptionist was easy, with no real skill involved. In 2022, individuals working in reception need to be detail-oriented, tech-savvy, possess high-level communication skills and be able to pick up transactional tasks on day one, rather than learning on the job as was done in earlier years.

When roles are advertised, no longer are companies asking for typing WPM. Our research across recruitment platforms such as SEEK and LinkedIn has shown that businesses want to know a candidate’s experience in Microsoft teams, financial software, practical knowledge of LinkedIn and their background in guest experience.

The Global Skills Matrix would indicate that someone employed in this role before 2022 would be sitting at Level 1. Now, in 2022 if we look at the Global Skills Matrix, it is more common for a person in this position to have the skills and attributes of a Level 2 or Level 3 operator. This is also reflected in the remuneration provided for these roles.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), in November 2019, the average receptionist employed in the Private Sector earnt $55,000 per annum. In April 2022, the ABS statistics showed that the average salary is now $75,000 per annum. In Sydney and Melbourne, in June 2022, we also saw sign-on bonuses of $5,000 on average offered by companies that needed to secure the right fit for their advancing teams. However, according to top recruiters, the sign-on bonus has an expiration date.

The attitude of some candidates seeking employment has left top recruiters scratching their heads. The Australian Admin Awards team recently had the opportunity to sit with six of Australia’s top recruiters for a panel discussion on the recruitment industry’s difficulties in finding suitable candidates for Executive Assistant roles. One of the critical points of our conversation was the self-assured arrogance coming through from candidates who don’t have the skillsets or values needed to take on the high-performance strategic administrative roles they are applying for. We’re finding there is a risk of the unrealistic demands of a few giving the broader profession a bad rap.

Whilst the hybrid workplace is here to stay and we need to have open conversations about how we can find the best fit for all parties involved. This does not mean that candidates can say, ‘I can only be in the office for one day a week because I have a new puppy’ and expect that they’re going to be paid the big bucks? You cannot expect $100k a year if you haven’t asked or thought about the expectations needed from your soon-to-be boss.

These overconfident individuals are applying for the $85k – $110k per annum roles and are trying to set a precedent for their employment. It is not the ‘career Executive Assistants’ or ‘top-end-of-town Executive Assistants’ that are making these demands; it is coming from self-entitled individuals who are losing touch with the soft skills of the role and forgetting what it means to play on the Executive Assistant team.

When did we forget what it means to serve – which is a Number 1 rule in all administrative roles! This attitude is detrimental to our profession long-term; how do we change the narrative and support them to understand their skill set and what they want to be. Perhaps, with their self-imposed limitations, they are better suited to the virtual space where they can create their own hours and support individual or multiple leaders from their homes.

The New Face Of The Business

The reception role is still integral as we move through 2022 and beyond. How the function of the position is integrated into the business will differ not only due to the size and available resources of each company but also depending on each company’s appetite for modernisation.

New opportunities exist for employees to carve a career within the industry as businesses embrace change and look for ways to improve the guest experience and utilise the technology they invested in during the pandemic. With customers comparing the experience to experience now instead of a person-to-person, the role of reception, guest experience, workplace ambassador, or whatever the role is named is crucial to the sustainability of the business and its brand.

A significant positive to come from the changing face of the business, shown in our research, is that 30% of the roles within a corporate level in the reception space are now men. Their return to the industry and embracing the role as a career is inspiring. Individuals from hospitality or front-of-house backgrounds have the skillset for providing concierge-like services as part of the guest experience.

As businesses continue to evolve the way they perceive the role, leverage off technology and utilise external resources the role of reception will continue to transform. Receptionists need to future-proof their careers by undertaking education that furnishes them with skills that can separate them from the pack and help them progress in their careers. In a world that rapidly changes, keeping your knowledge fresh and your skill set on-point can be your most competitive advantage.

Written by Michelle Bowditch with Marika Garton.
Have you read?
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World’s Richest People (Top Billionaires, 2022).
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Top Citizenship and Residency by Investment Programs, 2022.

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Michelle Bowditch
Michelle Bowditch is the CEO of The Australian Admin Awards and the multi-award-winning Tech Consultancy, Door 20A. As a former C-Suite Executive Assistant, Michelle helps professionals understand how improper technology use can negatively impact a brand's bottom line, efficiency, and true potential. Michelle established The Australian Admin Awards (The AAAs) in 2021 - the first-ever awards to formally recognise all administrative functions within all industries in Australia.

She also sits on the Advisory Board for 'Inspired by Women' and is the Chair of Rise Community, empowering women through advisory services to achieve their aspirations and financial independence. If you are interested in Michelle training your Assistants or speaking at your event, either virtually or in person, please visit our Speaker Bureau.

Michelle Bowditch is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Connect with her through LinkedIn.