Workplace issues continue to dominate the conversations when I gather with my legal community colleagues. Here are five workplace trends worth discussing in your office.
Though we are post-pandemic, remote work continues to remain a workplace trend. The number of fully in-office workers dropped in 2023 from 49% to 38%. The full-time office is a dying breed in many industries, including professional services.
While it’s easy to suppose that only large firms offer remote work, or only certain practice areas, that is not the case. I’ve seen examples of very small firms in all types of practice areas, including litigation, who have developed remote work policies. Rather than debate in-person versus remote, perhaps the better discussion is flexibility.
Law offices tend to be rigid. One of the many lessons of the pandemic is that change is easier when our work culture allows for flexibility. Have conversations with your employees to see what they are looking for in terms of work flexibility. Ask employees about barriers and search for solutions.
In October, ZipRecruiter reported the results of their first annual employer survey. They surveyed 2,000 hiring managers and recruiters in the U.S. and asked them how pay transparency impacted recruiting and hiring efforts. Here are some of their findings:
Pay transparency is now standard. 72% of employers said they post salary information on all postings, 18% only disclose pay in states where it is required and 10% do not disclose pay. Prior to pay transparency laws, only 20% – 30% of job postings had pay information.
Three-fourths of employers say pay transparency help them attract top candidates and 61% said it made recruiting more efficient.
48% of companies said they reset pay downward. Yet 41% of employers said that positions had gone unfilled over the past six months because job candidates wanted more pay – a problem companies faced regardless of size.
While companies reset pay downward, many have added benefits and perks. 39% added health insurance benefits over the past year. 28% added retirement benefits and 26% added life insurance benefits.
It is more efficient to retain a good employee than to recruit and train a new employee. Yet we often spend more time on recruiting than retention. Stay interviews are a great way to make sure you are in touch with your employees from the time they are hired to different touch points along their career path.
If an exit interview is designed to serve as a post-mortem of why someone left and what you could have done to avoid it, a stay interview is a proactive tool, a conversation with your employees to check in on how they are doing, why they want to stay, and what may cause them to leave. A stay interview provides structure around employee retention.
Stay interviews should be private, one-on-one meetings and should be conducted with all team members so there is no perception that not being interviewed means not being valued. Fast Company, an excellent resource for workplace resources, offers advice on some questions to ask during these conversations:
- What do you like most about working here?
- What do you like most about our culture?
- What would make a long-term career with us enticing for you?
- If given the opportunity to learn a new skill, what would be most appealing to you?
- What part of your day-to-day drains you and how could we work to make it better?
- Do you feel comfortable being yourself at work? What can we add or provide to make you feel more supported?
- Where do you see your career two years from now?
Taking action after these conversations is imperative. You can get valuable feedback from your employees but without follow-up, you are simply highlighting the fact that you are aware of the issue, but not willing to make changes.
Jordan Furlong says, “We were granted self-regulation on the condition that we exercise it in the public interest. Instead, we’ve exercised it by telling the public: “You may participate in the civil justice system by hiring a lawyer. If you can’t afford to hire a lawyer, then you are entitled to nothing. No assistance, no guidance – and we will prosecute any non-lawyer who tries to help you.””
“Considering all that, the interventionist trend in legal regulation shouldn’t come as any surprise to us. The only surprise should be that it’s taken this long. If lawyers can’t make the legal system work for the public, others will step in and do it for us. And the price we pay for that could be higher than we think.”
Read the rest of Jordan’s provocative article here, The Looming Crisis in Lawyer Self-Regulation.
If you haven’t experimented with an AI tool yet, please do so. My experience has been with ChatGPT. Simply visit chat.openai.com. Enter an email and set up a password. From the home screen you will be prompted, “how can I help you today?”
I typed in “Christmas gift ideas for cousin who enjoys technology priced under $25”. I received 12 options including a cable organizer bag, touchscreen gloves, and smartphone camera lens kit. All great ideas for my cousin and within the price range of our extended family gift exchange.
For this article, I asked ChatGPT to offer advice on legal trends for 2024. Following some disclaimers about knowledge updates being limited to 2023, and legal trends varying by jurisdiction, here’s part of the response, “However, I can provide you with a list of general legal trends that were gaining prominence in recent years, and it’s possible that some of these trends may continue to evolve in 2024. Keep in mind that the legal landscape is dynamic and new trends may emerge.” Following this statement was a list of ten trends including artificial intelligence and remote work.
To learn more about how artificial intelligence will impact small law, read this three-part post from Thomson Reuters, first published on Attorney at Work, on Generative AI and the small law firm here.
The evolving nature of law and the changing legal marketplace demands a proactive approach. Collaboration and innovation must be a part of our law firm culture if we are to build law firms that will evolve and thrive in 2024.
Camille Stell is the President of Lawyers Mutual Consulting & Services and the co-author of the book, RESPECT – An Insight to Attorney Compensation Plans available from Amazon. Continue this conversation by contacting Camille at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800.662.8843.