Not sure how to reward your assistant for a job well done? You’re not alone. For many of those lucky enough to have laudable support, the gesture brings a particularly head-scratching conundrum: how exactly to do the thanking? Rick Straud, communications manager for the Kansas City, Mo.-based International Association of Administrative Professionals, reminds employers that old standbys like flowers and candy fall short of a gift’s full potential. “Employers should look at this as a professional development opportunity,” he advises, suggesting an educational gift, such as a supplementary course in new office programs or organizational techniques. Straud also urges hard-pressed gift-givers to ask their assistants outright how they would like to be thanked. Even a seemingly well-meant leave-work-early pass, for example, could backfire, only heightening the stress of an assistant whose workload won’t allow early departures. Open communication gives managers the opportunity to show assistants respect for their preferences as well as their work. Finally, Straud suggests involving the entire office in the appreciation. It will motivate everyone to work harder and why deprive an assistant of the admiration of his peers? A staffwide breakfast salute might provide just the kick that last year’s chocolates lacked.