The recruitment and retention of staff is a challenge facing many law firms. Those who are successful in this area are combining traditional methods with innovative new approaches to attract the right people to their business. This was evident at our recent Trailblazers Conference where leaders spoke of the approaches they have taken. Many have developed award-winning programs and their retention rates are testimony to their success. In this blog, we bring together thoughts from our Trailblazers and clients and suggest 3 ways to improve recruitment and retention.
Recruit in line with your Company Values
Those firms who have strong retention rates also have well-communicated company values and a culture that embodies those values every day. Making sure that you recruit staff in line with these values is important to maintaining the culture and integrity of the firm. All employees, new and existing, need to experience and demonstrate positive behaviours and understand their contribution within the overall organisation.
Whilst there is nothing new about this concept, the way that prospective employees engage with firms has changed. Communicating company values to prospective members of the team isn't the sole responsibility of HR and line managers. Increasingly, firms are using social media to recruit staff and to promote their values. Ed Fletcher, Chief Executive of Fletchers Solicitors shared his experience at The Trailblazers conference and spoke of their success in using social media as a recruitment channel over other methods. Fletchers have twice been listed in the London Stock Exchange's '1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain' and have achieved the Investors in People (IIP) Gold Award. Fletchers work hard to attract talent to their Southport-based operation. Social media plays an important role within recruitment and Fletchers have found it to be a valuable tool to ensure that any potential recruits are aware of and share Fletchers' values.
Mentoring and Leadership
When it comes to retention, positive communication, strong leadership and development are the most commonly referenced differentiators for successful firms. Leaders need to create regular opportunities to convey the company direction and strategy and take time to explain and respond to questions. All of our leaders shared the same approach; inviting ideas and innovation from everyone throughout the business and creating a culture that listened to and adopted new practices based on those ideas. Creating an environment where employees felt engaged and valued with the overall success of the business is a valuable component of retention.
Another vital area of retention is development and when recruitment is a challenge, it is all the more important to develop and nurture the talent that already lies within the business. A number of our clients, including our Trailblazer conference leaders Fletchers and Bott & Co, have established their own academies to develop their existing teams, train new starters and develop young talent. Not only does this overcome the common challenges associated with recruitment but also improves the retention rates for those who progress through the academy and take on different roles within the business.
Flexible Working & Access to Technology
There are a number of reasons why a positive approach to flexible working improves recruitment and retention. For recruitment, the ability to offer flexible working can increase the catchment area of prospective candidates. Allowing people to be home based or offering people flexibility over their hours can open up the opportunity to recruit people outside of the immediate area. To enable this, firms need to embrace technology to allow their teams to securely access all their applications from any location.
Once talent has been nurtured, it is important to retain staff by offering a flexible approach to work around life events. All staff have the right to request flexible working arrangements. Whether it be a colleague who asks for more flexibility following a return from paternity or maternity leave, a return from sickness, a staged retirement or simply a request to change hours. All of these offer the opportunity to retain key people and could open up a chance to adapt the business to a new way of delivering services. For example, you may have people wanting to work different hours to the conventional business 9-5, which could in turn mean that you were able to extend the opening hours of the business.
It is also important that firms show a positive attitude to the adoption of technology in order to attract new talent. Candidates will be suspicious of firms who are using out dated methods and tools, and there is now an expectation that technology use within the workplace should at least match that experienced outside of the working environment. People want to be successful in their roles, so its important that they have the capability to deliver the level of customer service that their clients expect and, in an increasingly mobile world, that can only be done by allowing them to access tools and applications from any location, at any time via any device. Don't let your systems be a deterrent to talent.
If you're interested in learning more about our Trailblazers Conference you can view the summary here: Talent, Leadership and Technology - The 3 Pillars of Innovation