Occupational Changes and the Adverse Effects on the Secretary

Occupational Changes and the Adverse Effects on the Secretary (A Case Study of Some Selected Establishment in Enugu Urban)

The secretarial profession appears to have myriads of problems. These problems seem to make the secretary ineffective and efficient in the work place. However, the question is: Do secretaries encounter problems in their work place?

To answer the above question, related literature was reviewed in order to set the stage for this study.

The review of literature was carried out under the following headings.

Brief history of the secretarial profession

Definition of the word secretary

Attributes of a secretary

Problems of secretaries

Occupational changes and its effect on the secretary

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Secretary ship as a profession came into being as a result of the need for clerical and secretarial staff by our colonial authorities. They however, introduced elements of secretarial administration into the school curriculum, thus Bony government secondary school and Hope secondary school were established and then included in their curricula some secretarial subjects like shorthand and typewriting. Amafula (1986).

These schools existed along with what then used to be known as the college of Arts, staff training center, some privately owned commercial institutions, which offered secretarial courses to secretarial aspirants for first entry jobs. The products of these institutes were needed by the British colonial Administration to serve in various lower level capacities as typists, messengers, courts clerks, interpreters etc,

According to Esene (1990), these people relied mostly on self struggle, some later found their ways to Britain either as government sponsored or private students.

The story is now different. There are many commercially technical secondary schools, polytechnics owned by federal and state governments, even of the universities (River state university of science and Technology, Port Harcourt) is offering a degree programme in secretarial administration.


The longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, defined a secretary as a person with the job of preparing letters, keeping records, arranging meetings etc for another. The work of a secretary is more than this definition.

Obodo (1991) pointed out that a secretary could be regarded as a supporting staff to another person who may be called an executive or superior officer.

Thus, every aspect of the secretary ship function in an office is geared towards projecting not only the competence of the boss but also the image of the organization it service. However, the above definition is narrowed and does not typically define the modern day secretary.

Amaefula (1986) observed that an efficient secretary is the office worker who successfully passed through a prescribed course of study, he failed to include some of the basic ingredient of a true secretary

However, Segun (1989) defined a secretary as “one who besides possession of typewriting and shorthand skills is knowledgeable in management and organizational techniques. She serves in the capacity of personal assistant to an executive or manager”

In the same vein, Austin (1980) defined a secretary as “a person who has acquired the basic secretarial skills of shorthand and typewriting” plus enough knowledge and practical experience in office work to be able to cope with filing simple office machinery and reception duties.

Whitehead (1979) defined a true secretary as one who should be at ease with his work, knowing all the demands and expectations of a professional secretary. He further opined that the secretary should have a good command of any required oral or spoken communication system in the organization, taking all conditional dictations and subsequent transcriptions for action, process word with modern equipment available, organized filing and retrieval, a good memory of the boss and organization, boosting the image of the organization through efficient pubic relations and arranging of potentially successful meeting. Above all, a secretary should be able to maintain strong initiatives, highly relevant to the success of his work. These authors have attempted to clarify who a professional secretary is. They saw the secretary as one who is knowledge and can carry out administrative work effectively with little or no supervision.

The National Secretarial Association (international) defined a secretary as “An executive assistant who possess the mastery of office skills who demonstrates the ability to assume responsibilities without direct supervisions, who exercises initiatives and judgment and who made decisions within the scope of assigned authority”

For the purpose of this study, this definition will be adopted because it defines as series of goals for which every secretary should strive. A secretary is assumed to be one who will be able to perform her duties with little or no supervision.


Nowadays, people misunderstand and give a different interpretation of the secretarial career. It is very wrong today every person who has a typewriter in front of her as a secretary. Secretaries have been classified into various grades.

Amaefula (1986) classified secretaries into various grades medium grades, high grades and upper grades of secretaries and their responsibilities. He further stressed that graduates of commercial secondary schools may occupy the low-grade position, those with National Diploma from polytechnic and Nigeria certificate of Education (NCE) will occupy the medium rank, products of Higher National Diploma of the polytechnic or its equivalent fill the high grade position while those with upper grade are products of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA)

Emphasizing this, Obodo (1991) said that secretaries are categorized on the basis of their academic and professional attainments” hovered some authors identified these categories of secretaries as


This category of secretaries as we explained by Shaw (1977) helps to assist members of staff at top managerment level by undertaking at least the preliminaries of his routine work and ensures the smooth running of his work. The confidential secretary performs more of the primary functions in an organization than the secondary functions. He further stressed that a confidential secretary is the one every office is judged by one who solves daily problems in an organization, keep business running smoothly and most importantly the boss’s confidence. On their qualification ND/HND or its professional equivalent is required. A confidential secretary works with the middle level management of any organization.


According to Elendu (1986) these are well-trained secretaries. They are attached to the chief executives. They are so knowledgeable in office work that they occupy very indispensable positions in office today.

Personal secretaries work with top-level management of an organization. They are also known as personal secretaries or assistants. This is because they work for only one official and this distinguishes them from other secretaries who work for several people. They have much work delegated to them and have little or no time to attend to the primary functions such as typing writing, shorthand etc. on their qualification, HND/BSC or professional certificates such as Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) is required. Amaefula (1986)


Moore, Neil (1971) said that one of the features which distinguishes the work of the executive secretary from that of a mere shorthand typist is the extent to which the executive is regarded as a part of the management team. The executive secretary is placed to aid management in covering the human personal aspects of the working situation which may be of great importance in maintaining efficient operation, thus, achieving the organizational aims and objectives. On their qualification, it is the same as the personal assistant.


Secretaries posses some personal qualities as well as business qualities with which they carry out their duties effectively in the organization.

According to Helen Robb, secretaries posses the following attributes. “punctuality to work, ability to anticipate needs, willingness to accept responsibilities, good personal relations with colleagues and visitors, initiative, ability to accept constructive criticism, a sense of humor and a habit of working with little or no supervision.

Human beings come to the work place with their individual needs. Masslow (1954) however, identified five level hierarchy of needs, which all human beings share. He viewed human needs in the form of hierarchy, starting in an ascending order from the lowest to the highest need. In the first category of the needs are psychological or lower needs, which every human being wants to satisfy first. These needs include food, clothing and shelter. But it is the satisfaction of these lower needs that give rise to the struggle for the higher needs such as recognition, responsibility, opportunity for advancement as well as esteem and self actualization needs.

Unbeku (1975) stressed that it is the satisfaction for these higher needs that will determine how much energy the particular individual employees will bee prepared to release on the job. It is because the secretarial personnel are not adequately motivated that at times, they do not release their maximum energy on the job and this in effect may result in low productivity. He further stressd that in order to motivate people to put in their maximum efforts, it is essential that these various needs, which we have identified, be satisfied as far as practicable. Therefore it is when these needs are somewhat satisfied that the secretarial personnel may assume to have been motivated.

Further studies on motivation by professor Herzberg reveals that the factors that make a job satisfying are quite separate from the factors that make it dissatisfying. These are hygiene or maintenance factors, for instance, status, money and security

Fennigen (1968) most people work because they need to earn money. But money does not explain why some people do the jobs they do when they can get more money by doing other jobs. For example a salary makes a worker happy but not forever.

Other aspects, which if introduces or improved would lead to extreme satisfaction are called strong factors that motivate persons to do more on the job are really the opportunities for professional growth, responsibility, work itself, recognition and achievement. It has been found out that the greatest amount of employees discontent occurs when hygiene factors are sufficiently met.

Ohiri (1980) stated that employees are satisfied when the work they do interest them, when they achieve job goals and receives recognition for their achievement on the contrary, it is felt that the secretarial personnel are denied the hygiene factors not to talk of the strong motivators.

Fennignon (1968) opined that an important principle is that it is useless to try to motivate people of the hygiene factors are below standard. It is difficult for example to motivate by improving job satisfaction if there is no security in the situation and the salary is totally inadequate.

Other motivators lacked by secretaries are recognition, responsibility, poor promotion prospects and unchallenging jobs. Chuma (1993) however, stressed that the reason for occupational mobility is lack of opportunities and insufficient motivation. He maintained that inadequate opportunity for self fulfillment, insufficient tools to perform, lack of recognition, relative emduments and politicization of strategic appointment are contributory factors.

Techniques for getting the secretarial personnel in particular, depend upon an understanding of these issues.


In the course of carrying out this research work, the researcher discovered that the secretaries in all the selected banks are faced with some peculiar problems. These include lower salary grade level, discrimination in promotion, wrong development of secretaries, negative attitude of bosses, poor work environment etc.


Poor remuneration is another major problem facing secretaries especially in the first generation banks out of which four were studies. The fact that secretaries are given lower salaries grade levels than their counterparts who specialized in accounting, marketing, business administration, purchasing and supply etc. is quite discouraging.

However, Denyer (1980) opined that most usual method is to access the relative importance of the following factors, education, experience, responsibility and working conclusion. Inspite of the fact that the secretary has same qualification and experience with her counterparts, she is paid lower. He further emphasized that salary scales can be fixed according to job grading entirely. It is therefore unfair for some one with les responsibility to receive a salary more than the person whose workload is greater.

In the banks studied, a secretary with higher national diploma qualification is placed on the salary grade level 08 while others with the same qualification in related fields seems to be paid more than the secretaries. The differences may seem little nut much is involved.

Dickson (1974) therefore suggests that the first thing form must do is to formulate a wage policy to ensure that the employees recognize that they are being treated equitably in terms of their monetary out-comings.

The fact that the secretarial personnel are not treated equitably in terms of payments may make them not to work towards the achievement of the organization goals and as such, the secretary puts up some negative attitude to work. This is so because what he receives does not come up to his expectation, the firm can expect trouble in one form or another such as absenteeism, poor workmanship and ultimate strikes.

Wages questions are the most important of all items in any collective bargaining. Not only do they come in most frequently, they take more time to discuss and give rise to the greatest number of disputes. This stituation arises from the fact that the standard of living of the workers depends solely on the wages they receive. No company can hope to progress with the effective efforts of the employees and good wages contribute greatly towards this similarly, low pay rates do not attract or retain competent personnel. Minor (1975) opined that wages and salaries differentials are then established to reflect existing difference in job requirements. The employees employers should therefore analyze the secretary’s jobs not rectify their wages/salary differentials.

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