Subscription Staffing for Executive Assistants: A Hiring Method for the New Workplace

Updated: 14 Jun, 2022 | Bill Peatman

We all know that the world of work is in a constant state of flux. The past decades have seen multiple booms and busts in the job market, with mass layoffs turning into talent shortages in a rollercoaster ride. Layoffs and hiring are expensive and exhausting.

Meanwhile, businesses are turning to executive assistant services to rid executives of burdensome tasks that keep them from strategic work. The virtual assistant market grew 41 percent in 2020, for example. In a tight job market, executive assistants can help build organizational capacity—if you cannot hire more executives, you can give the ones you have more time to do what matters most.

The virtual assistant market is growing in part because hiring, training, and managing in-house executive assistants are challenging tasks for most businesses. Here is why:

  • The same tight job market reduces the availability of executive assistants.
  • It is a part-time job that does not always attract top candidates—most executives spend 16 hours a week on administrative tasks.
  • Many assistants have left the field—there are 2.1 million fewer than in 2000, according to labor department statistics.
  • The role does not have a career path—few businesses have the resources and experience to mentor and coach assistants.
  • Turnover is high--less than half of executive assistants stay at a job for more than two years.
  • Hiring is time-consuming—it takes 120 days (about 4 months) to hire and train an assistant.

Enter Subscription Staffing for Virtual Executive Assistants

Talent shortages and the risks and disruption of hiring and replacing executive admins have given rise to subscription staffing for administrative assistants. Here is how it works:

  • A service provider hires, trains, and manages the performance of remote virtual assistants, typically offshore, where talent is plentiful but meaningful work is hard to find.
  • You get the professional executive assistants you need quickly and easily—usually in about a week.
  • You get bright, motivated, trained professional support without hiring and firing.
  • A management team takes care of all HR and management duties, including a trained backup assistant for when your assistant is away.
  • You can scale up or scale back at any time—all it takes is a phone call to hire and to stop the service.

Offshore virtual assistants love their jobs because they get to build relationships with executive teams. Most jobs available to professionals in offshore markets are call centers and customer service centers, where the employees are anonymous and speak with strangers all day. These employees want to be part of your teams, contributing just as if they were physically beside you. The service provider matches them with one to three executives to provide full-time work and paths to become trainers and managers.

Subscription Staffing Reduces Risk and Disruption 

Subscription staffing makes sense for roles that are hard to fill and have high turnover rates. The constant recruiting, hiring, training, and onboarding—those 120 days—are disruptive for businesses. With a subscription-based service, you bear none of the risks of a bad hire. Keep in mind that it costs 50 to 200 percent of an employee’s salary to find a replacement. Starting over is painful. With a subscription employment model, you never have to start over.

What Subscription Staffed Virtual Executive Assistants Do 

A remote virtual assistant can do anything an onsite assistant can do—provided someone can do it online. They cannot make your coffee, but they can order it for you, so it is ready at your local coffee shop. Common tasks include:

  • Scheduling and calendar management.
  • Inbox cleanup and management.
  • Planning business trips.
  • Filing expense reports.
  • Entering and managing contact data.
  • Sending invoices.
  • Preparing templated documents.
  • Reconcile credit cards and other accounts.

These are important tasks for your business but do not need to be done by you.

Subscription Staffing is a Long-Term Solution

Prialto has provided subscription virtual assistant staffing for more than a decade as a long-term model for hiring assistants. This is how the model works.

First, the management team invests a lot of training and onboarding upfront to ensure that your assistant exceeds your expectations. The team documents all your processes and preferences to train backups and replacements in the event of a departure. Your assistant works with you as an embedded team member. It is just like hiring an employee, except that you pay the service provider instead of paying the assistants directly.

What to look for in Subscription-Based Virtual Executive Assistant Service 

Based on our experience supporting thousands of virtual executive assistants, here is what to look for in a subscription-based virtual assistant provider:

  • How long has the service provider been in business? Thousands of virtual assistant providers entered the market during the pandemic. Look for one with a strong record of accomplishment.
  • What is its retention rate for customers—it should be in the high 90s. High turnover is usually a sign of inferior performance.
  • What is its retention rate for employees? This number should also be in the high 90s. High retention signals that the service provider treats its workers well and offers a high-quality service.
  • Check out third-party review sites. Review sites like Investopedia and The Balance SMB provide helpful comparisons of services offered and performed.
  • Look at IT security procedures. Subscription service employees should work in secure buildings, on secure networks, using trusted computers with regular updates.
  • Do not forget about human security. Your service provider should run background checks on the assistants it hires and sign nondisclosure and privacy agreements.

It is Subscription Economy 

We can now subscribe to many productivity services, from car services like Uber to software like CRMs. Subscription staffing for executive assistants is another way to purchase productivity support with the added benefit that you get to meet and work with talented people worldwide. With remote work now commonplace attitudinal barriers to virtual support dissolved, and services are extremely popular. You can hire without the hassles and risks of hiring. And you get off the layoff/talent shortage roller coaster that is so painful and disruptive.

Prialto is the oldest and largest provider of subscription staffing for executive assistants. We hire, train, manage, mentor, and coach assistants for thousands of executives around the world. To learn more about how to engage virtual executive assistants, download our guide.

The Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Virtual Assistant

About the Author: Bill is Prialto's senior content marketing manager and writes about the future of work and how businesses can be more productive and successful. His work has appeared in the World Economic Forum Agenda blog and CIO magazine.

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