6 of the most effective ways to boost staff motivation (and retention)

Contributing £25 billion to the UK economy and supporting around 370,00 people, the legal sector is performing rather well despite some of the headlines we have seen in the media of late.

According to The Law Society, approximately 8,000 new jobs were created in the sector last year, with every one new job supporting a further 67 other jobs. This is great for job seekers keen to take advantage of the new opportunities that are becoming available.

But what does it mean for employers, how can law firms keep their staff on board? It’s a question of motivation.

With employee retention very much at the top of the law firm agenda, employers are quickly realising that keeping their people motivated can have a range of business benefits, ranging from improved quality of work and lower absenteeism to improved bottom lines and crucially increased staff retention.

The challenge, therefore, is how to keep staff motivated in the first place and that’s what we’ll take a look at here.

  1. Recognise and reward your people:

When was the last time you acknowledged one of your team for a job well done? Showing appreciation – and doing so publically – is one of the most effective ways to keep your staff motivated.

Encouraging managers to consistently and publically recognise members of their teams who have gone above and beyond what is ordinarily expected of them, even if it’s just for very small actions, creates a positive feedback loop that positively impacts on them and their colleagues too.

  1. Improve flexibility:

Having a successful work-life balance is one of the primary motivators for employees, which explains the rise in the number of law firms adopting flexible working practices.

Allowing staff to work from home, implementing flexitime and encouraging them to take holidays (or even offering unlimited time off) can have a major impact on employees.

Indeed, a report from the Department for Work and Pensions found that 65% of employers saw improved recruitment and retention levels after implementing a flexible working policy, 58% reported increased productivity, and 70% reported improved employee relations.

  1. Encourage social responsibility:

Several studies point to the direct link between a company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the degree to which their employees remain motivated and engaged.

A report published by LinkedIn in 2016 found that 55% of job seekers in the UK would reject a job offer from a firm if they didn’t share the same values as them. So while having a CSR policy in place is a positive thing, you can build on this by encouraging individual employees to contribute directly to causes that they feel passionate about or actively participating in company-wide volunteering days within the local community.

  1. Share the vision:

While earning potential remains one of the most attractive draws for someone looking to work for your firm, it’s role as a key motivator for retaining staff diminishes as time goes by.

Indeed, according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, money ranks in the lowest area of the pyramid, whereas feeling valued, recognised and having the opportunity to make a real difference where they work ranks the highest.

But to do this means ensuring that everyone at every level understands where the business is heading and the contribution they will make to achieve this vision. Paint a picture of where you see it in 12 months, two years and five years and share the roadmap showing how that vision can (and will) become a reality.

  1. Invest in wellness programmes:

Mental Health Awareness Week served as a stark reminder of the importance of addressing the health and well-being of the people that we employ. It is an issue more prevalent than you may think.

Figures from the Law Society state that 95% of lawyers experience ‘negative stress’ in their jobs, with 17% reporting instances of ‘extreme’ stress. In 2015, LawCare, the charity that provides support to the legal community, found that 20% of all calls they received were for depression.

Employee understanding of mental health issues is increasing as is their overall awareness of the role they can play in combatting it. Simply things like providing paid or subsidised gym membership, health insurance, cycle to work schemes and employee assistance programmes can have a dramatic impact on staff absence and stress levels, resulting in healthier, happier and more productive employees.

  1. Bolster your working environment

We have all seen those best-places-to-work articles in the local business press, where offices have been transformed into work-play environments complete with ball pits, Ping-Pong tables and ‘chill out’ zones with shagpile carpet running throughout. It may not quite be right for your law firm, but there are other ways to help improve your working environment.

Plenty of natural light makes employees more alert, while office plants reduce stress and help clean the air. Informal breakout spaces can help improve internal communications and bright colours and images can help foster creativity.