Employee Engagement Means Increased Productivity and Revenue

Employee engagement is critical to the success of any firm. So, what can law firms do now to increase employee engagement?

In today’s unique atmosphere and environment, it is especially challenging to engage employees.

An engaged employee is enthusiastic about his/her work and does positive things to further his/her employer’s reputation and interests. In contrast, a disengaged employee may do only the minimum job requirements or may actively damage his/her employer’s reputation.

Prior to the pandemic, companies with high employee engagement were 21% more profitable. When employees are engaged, they have an interest in their firm’s success and feel like they are part of the team. According to Gallup’s 2019 State of the Global Workplace report, only 33% of U.S. employees were engaged in the workplace. The same study found that highly engaged workplaces saw 41% lower absenteeism.

The following list includes some of the most important factors linked to high employee engagement: a trust in the leadership, a relationship with an immediate supervisor, a sense of purpose, an enjoyment of the working relationship with colleagues, and an appreciation of the environment of the workplace. With over 70% of the workforce working remotely today, these factors are very difficult to achieve and maintain.

Employee engagement is critical to the success of any firm. So, what can law firms do now to increase employee engagement?

Stay Connected

Accepting that the work environment has drastically changed and probably will not return to pre-pandemic dynamics for quite some time, if ever, is an important first step. Management should stress the need to deal with this change and take the time to check in with staff on a regular basis to discuss the adjustment to the new environment. Setting up Zoom conference calls between managers and employees should work well for this type of communication.

Give Updates

About 85% of employees indicate that they are most motivated when management offers regular updates on the firm. Firm management should always criticize privately and praise publicly, even if praising someone’s good work can be a bit more difficult now. When management holds all-inclusive meetings, even virtually, it provides a great opportunity to share internal success stories. Similarly along these lines, let people know when the firm lands a new client or achieves a positive outcome for a current client.

Supervisors should contact their direct reports just to “check in” with them. People are under so much stress with their families and the uncertainty about their careers, that it’s important that they talk about personal challenges, whatever they might be. It is also imperative that they know their discussions will not be held against them. Direct supervisors must earn employees’ trust for these conversations to have any real meaning. A good way for a supervisor to garner trust is to take the initiative and share his/her own personal challenges.

Anyone in a supervisory role should regularly exchange ideas with other supervisors regarding how to properly engage members of the firm remotely. These discussions should be separate from other discussions and meetings. Everyone in the organization will need help pivoting to recognize how best to handle their duties and interact with one another.

About 85% of employees indicate that they are most motivated when management offers regular updates on the firm.

Encourage Collaboration

Employers can host “study sessions” between peers where they can interact virtually without their supervisors and co-work on a shared network. These sessions will foster open communication not only during these study sessions, but during other interactions as well.

Regularly Measure Satisfaction

A firm may find it useful to measure employee sentiment by sending virtual confidential surveys. Employees must believe that their responses are confidential in order to get accurate information. Based on these results, a firm can pivot with its communications.

Today, a firm’s website is its virtual reception area. Leaders may consider posting pictures of support staff, even if temporarily. Not only might it help with connecting one another, but also displays to clients and prospective clients that the firm is a united team.

Invest in Tech

Ongoing investment in technology is critical for proper communication with one another and clients. A discussion about technology with all members of the firm would be worthwhile. Discuss with everyone what they need and what they think would make them more productive and efficient. This should be an ongoing discussion and employees should be included in the decision for any major technology purchase.

Remote communications must also be utilized properly. Members who are initiating meetings and events need to know how to use the technology such as breakout rooms, online polls, and screen sharing to name a few.

Celebrate Anyway

Many events such as firm retreats, holiday parties, and employee appreciation events have been cancelled. Some firms are considering sending food gift cards to employees for organized remote holiday parties while others have considered organizing unique online events such as remote escape rooms, yoga, or virtual bingo. With many firms taking advantage of the payroll protection act and reducing employee salaries, events at this time should be reasonably priced and well worth the expense.

In summary, prior to the pandemic, many firms were not engaging employees as well as they could have. This new environment has presented each firm with a new opportunity to engage its employees. Smart firms will take advantage by exploring innovative ways of interacting with all levels of employees as frequently as possible.

Written by CARET Legal partner, Gail Ruopp. Gail Ruopp has acquired more than 25 years of professional experience in senior law firm management, initiating best practices in administrative operations, including: financials, accounting, lateral recruiting, personnel, day-to-day operations, systems management, and firm marketing.

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