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Making your staff your best advocates

Making your staff your best advocates


Helen Hamilton-Shaw explains how firms can ensure their values and aspirations match their employees'

My last article explored employee engagement and how making your firm a great place to work will support future business success. But it’s an investment that takes time, commitment, and resources.

It’s not just the ‘happiness’ or ‘satisfaction’ factor; it’s about making sure everyone understands the purpose of the organisation, how they fit and contribute as an individual, and how business values and aspirations match their own.

Many LawNet firms are using the Sunday Times’ ‘Best Companies to Work For’ model to focus their activities in this area, with the list’s star ratings providing valuable proof of their success.

Many have outlined their work in submissions for LawNet’s annual Excellence in Employee Engagement award. Learning from these best practice examples, we can see the key areas where leading firms are focusing their efforts:

  • It starts with recruitment: Recruit only people with behaviours and values that fit with your firm’s culture. Then make inductions as personal as possible to ignite and harness their enthusiasm. Keep the flame alive with ongoing performance development that reinforces the firm’s vision while showing how individuals add value to the business.

  • Communication that counts: Poor communication may undermine employee engagement. The best firms use a mix of meetings, roadshows, managing partner updates, and internal newsletters, while social media platforms such as Yammer, HumHub, and Workplace replace static intranets to keep the conversation going. Become part of the community: A sense of community can be very powerful. Many firms harness their CSR activities to support this, knowing that providing opportunities for the organisation and individuals to give back to their local communities can help drive positive team spirit and engagement within the firm.

  • Create routes for involvement: According to the Harvard Business Review, companies that score highly in employee engagement ask, listen, and act: successful outcomes happen when firms encourage ideas, feedback, and collaboration from everyone. Invest in management skills: Most people don’t leave businesses, they leave bad managers. Lawyers are often promoted because they are good at generating fees, but they may need development to achieve best practice leadership and management skills. We’re seeing increasing demand from firms for our learning sessions in this area.

  • A positive work environment: Many of our firms are trying different initiatives, ranging from free fruit to unlimited annual leave, even turning unused space into a gym. A progressive culture will engender loyalty and aid recruitment but may involve a cultural shift to enable flexible working options and better work-life balance.

  • Individualise the rewards and recognition: Not everyone is motivated by the same thing. Personalise rewards and think about public recognition of a job well done, handwritten thank you notes, regular staff awards, and performance bonuses to show how individual contributions are valued.

As Simon Sinek says: ‘Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.’ Make that your goal and the rest will follow. Good luck.

Helen Hamilton-Shaw is member engagement and strategy director at LawNet