Should we reintroduce PA’s to help support stressed executives?


In the 1990s, PAs gradually declined in number. 
Today, the average executive is managing 5x more than in the great days of PAs. So why do we think there is not a need to re-introduce PAs to help support stressed executives?

It is a fair question, especially given this week’s report that so many people and days are being lost through stress and mental illness. Of course there are all kinds of reasons but there is a clear logic that the structure of how people work needs to be reviewed and changed.

PAs declined with the advent and growth of laptops and at first it empowered executives to be free and to be accountable for their own work. However the tide has turned and it is clear that the increasing wave of emails and comms is creating a whole number of issues that include:

  • It is understood that thinking within companies and business has become increasingly narrow
  • Executives are suffering from increased stress
  • Executives have little time for reflection or time to think about their people and business
  • Increased coms = increased process and compliance = even more work

It has become harder and harder to get a simple message across to decision makers

The counter argument is that this is an increased cost and can the model today support such an increase?

This is relatively easy to answer:

  • The loss of an estimated 300,000 from their jobs per year in the UK through stress and mental illness hardly indicates a healthy business model
  • The business model supported PAs in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s – so why not today? Or have margins and models become just so tight? Is this an issue in itself.
  • How much data and information is being lost each day?

It is accepted by many that relationships with customers and partners are not as strong as they once were and that the art of networking has been in decline. Yet it is also recognised that relationships are crucial to good business.  You may or may not agree with this line of argument – however it is time that business stops and think about whether there is a need to find an answer to the levels of stress that many are feeling and if there is a better approach and model.

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