WHEN MONEY IS TIGHT, HOW CAN LAW FIRMS KEEP MORALE FROM FALLING?
Throughout the year 2020, firms and enterprises have had to make numerous adjustments to different aspects of their operations. We cannot ignore the effect coronavirus pandemic has on the economy or how companies react to the financial uncertainty.
For a lot of people, workplaces are where they get paychecks and health insurance. However, this dynamic is fast changing in this generation and the loyalty of a decent, hardworking employee will demand a lot more than mediocre pay and health benefits. As an employer, do you know what makes your staff happy and productive? Regardless of where you are running a solo practice or a midsize firm, you cannot afford to ignore the effects of team building and morale on efficiency and overall productivity.
According to a Corporate Leadership Council report, the probability of an employee quitting reduces by a significant 87% if they work in an engaging environment with high morale. It is the work of the HR or Firm administrator to create a culture that promotes a philosophy of employee motivation and engagement. But is it possible to pull this off if the firm is operating on a tight budget?
What Makes For Good Morale?
Contrary to what most people think, giving a pay raise is not a way of boosting morale in the office. The goal is to make your team feel appreciated and thought of, not that they are trading a part of themselves for a paycheck.
The goal is to provide a healthy work environment without ‘mental work shackles.’ according to CNN, the secret to a happy workplace is communication and connection.
Waber is a research scientist at Harvard and MIT who believes that allowing employees to form cliques and groups offers a support and venting platform for everyone involved. In light of this, the size of the network formed will impact the level of performance.
During his research, Waber observes how the larger groups tend to be more productive with higher performance. He attributes this finding to the fact that larger networks have more to offer in terms of interaction.
Work to improve on how your team collaborates and communicates at the office, whether it is during work hours or break time. Law firms that suffer from low morale tend to have the worst communication system or zero regard. Some employees would never talk to each other unless they have to while the only emails and messages sent out are work-related. Even though this works in favor of the billable hours, your team is miserable.
Building a cohesive, warm team will not require you to break any budget, and no one has to suck up to anyone.
Boosting Morale on a Budget
Start with sharing breakfast at least weekly. You don’t have to jeopardize billable hours by having everyone around a table snacking away. Having simple conversations as people fill a cup of coffee or fetch a bagel will help to break the ice among the staff and foster a friendly environment.
Make an effort to make a staff member feel special and appreciated. Drop them a note or send out an email and congratulate them if they do well in a project
Celebrate a birthday- the concept of billable hours can really get to you and your team, but it is essential to make time for what matters; your staff. Taking off 15 minutes from work to cut a cake and wish an employee a happy birthday will not hurt your billable hours. It is one thing to appreciate your team collectively, but getting personalized shows your staff that they are noticed, appreciated, and valued.
Not all emails and messages have to be about work. Create a habit of sending motivational quotes to your employees once in a while, and if possible make it a daily habit. They will notice and appreciate the effort.
Random acts of niceness will get your staff off-guard, but they will deliver a message. You think about your staff and their well-being constantly. If you’re stuck, try bringing your paralegal a cup of coffee- points for you if you know their favorite type.
Instructions and orders are great to get the firm running, but listening will keep you open for longer. Listening to your employees offers much-needed feedback and insight on several issues. It also lowers the communication barrier to know that they could come to you at any time.
It might not seem like a big deal, but the location will play a significant role in their morale and engagement. For instance, employees placed away from their colleagues are less likely to interact with other employees. The same applies to employees working behind closed doors. Dennis Abrams, a Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer, makes sure his law firm follows an open-door policy during normal business hours. The goal is to have like-minded people strategically placed close to each other.
The goal of this project is to build a team that is productive and efficient and not to spend thousands of dollars literally trying to buy happiness.