Are AAs Becoming the new Human Resources Generalists?

Julie Shenkman
Posted by in Administrative & Clerical Services

Several recent studies have brought attention to the fact that the role of administrative assistants is rapidly changing. Industry experts point to the recession as the cause of the changes to administrative work. With fewer employees in the past few years, many employers have relied on administrative assistants to fill a variety of roles. One position that appears to have been affected by this change to the workplace is that of a human resource generalist.

According to a recent survey conducted by the workforce recruitment agency Manpower, the role of administrative assistant is evolving to meet the demands of employers. Of the 500 employers surveyed, 98 percent reported that administrative assistant jobs have evolved to encompass more job duties than just five or 10 years ago. The survey also reveals that 40 percent of administrative assistants play an important role in team engagement. The Manpower survey indicates that administrative assistants are moving from a role that requires interacting with supervisors and clients, to a role that involves being an intermediary between other workers.

The role of intermediary has long been assigned to the human resource department. Although the role of an HR generalist varies greatly, many entry-level HR workers are responsible for staffing logistics, employee compliance, policy development and training existing employees. With administrative assistants becoming involved in employee relations through team engagement, many job seekers and industry experts have questioned the future of entry-level human resource jobs.

According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report, HR generalist jobs have experienced a slow decline in recent years. In fact, the profession is only expected to grow by 7 percent by 2022. On the other hand, administrative assistant jobs are expected to grow by 11 percent by 2022. The slowdown of human resource generalist jobs appears to be partly due to the recent economic recession and also a result of companies hiring staffing firms to hire new employees rather than hiring in-house employees to do this work.

These figures indicate the possibility that administrative assistants have become more versatile in the workplace, often being assigned a variety of tasks. Compared to a human resource generalist, administrative assistants are acquiring the knowledge and experience to do the work of several employees. In fact, some industry experts feel that the role of administrative assistant is expanding to the point that administrative assistants are now the new middle manager.

Compared to an administrative assistant, a human resource generalist's job duties are often limited to the human resource department. Consequently, it would not be surprising to find many administrative assistants are taking on responsibilities that were previously delegated to the human resource department. In addition, the trend of companies outsourcing the work of hiring new employees has the potential to further limit job growth within the human resource field.

If you are seeking a career as an administrative assistant, it is more important than ever to acquire a diverse skill set that will allow you to compete in today's job market. As the research indicates, administrative assistants are taking on many new roles and filling in for jobs that have been eliminated.


(Photo courtesy of (Gualberto107)/


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