Six Employee Benefits That lawyers Don’t Want & Why

At HR level many of our law firm clients are reviewing their employee benefits schemes to improve their current offering for their best lawyers whom they are keen to retain during these challenging times and, so as to attract the strongest lawyers in the market once the legal world returns to its former glory.

Below we have summarised six benefits that lawyers seemingly do not care for contrary to popular belief and we have suggested what law firms might want to consider replacing them with.

  1. On-site catering and sleeping pods: in general, such facilities signal an intense and generally unsustainable working culture, which can put all but the most junior of lawyers off (in our experience junior lawyers are empirically speaking much less encumbered with family responsibilities). All in all, sleeping pods and catering facilities do not encourage creativity, team building or employee wellbeing. Offices with sleeping pods often create a working culture that is counter-productive to smarter, more efficient, ways of working. On-site catering facilities can create a working environment that discourages staff to leave the office in order to maximise every waking moment of the working day (and often night) to bill. On-site gyms, heavily subsidised gym memberships and on-site Yoga, Pilates, personal training classes etc., are all much smarter ways of increasing efficiency, productivity and employee well being.
  2. Unlimited annual leave: in the last 24 months we’ve seen a few law firms offer unlimited annual leave presented as an unrivalled market leading fringe benefit. The reality, however, is very different. Workloads and general firm wide attitudes to taking annual leave make this ‘benefit’ on the whole feel more like a gimmick. A more attractive holiday benefit may be to partner up with well-regarded travel companies, hotels, etc., to offer staff subsidies and to offer bonus holiday allocations for lawyers embarking upon significant life events such as weddings, house moves, the birth of a child, the commencement or conclusion of maternity and paternity leave, and study days. Offering bonus days for ethnic minority employees celebrating Eid, Diwali, Yom Kippur etc., could also be considered.
  3. Discretionary / Firm Wide bonuses: such bonus schemes tend to be demotivational because they are almost always relatively modest in value and generally speaking do not tend to foster the most entrepreneurial and meritocratic of environments. What is almost always better – if you’re wanting to attract and retain lawyers that are technically excellent, brilliant with clients and great generators of work – is bonus schemes that personally reward all levels of employees who possess these skill sets. Bonus schemes that personally reward employees that are cross referring work tend to always work very well too and are so much more conducive to collaborative ways of in-firm working particularly amongst partners.
  4. Dressing down: overall most lawyers work in an environment which is so heavily client facing that the benefits of dressing down are lost. Instead, consider offering employees an office wear stipend or corporate discount with a variety of reputable workwear and/or popular shoe retailers.
  5. Talent Development: the most common cause of employee attrition is lack of opportunity and development. We always encourage our clients to be clear and transparent when it comes to opportunities for promotion and talent development. Good candidates will always avoid a lateral move and the best candidates move for better platforms from which to further develop their careers. Only roll out talent development as a genuine benefit if you can back yourself as a firm to put in place the infrastructure and training programmes (which can be time and cost intensive). Providing high quality access to career and executive coaches is always well received by employees at all levels and something that many firms are now offering as a ‘paid for’ benefit.

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