Non-Financial Incentives for Lawyers

As the economy continues to struggle through the pandemic, law firms and companies are increasingly competing to acquire and retain top talent. Competitive compensation levels can be  important, but truly effective motivation requires a more in-depth approach and a real commitment to people. In many cases, other motivational non-monetary tools can be much more powerful and, self-evidently, less costly. With the continuing uncertain economy, many companies are working hard to balance their budgets; here are 5 top incentives to attain and retain talent without any wage wars.

1). Incentive Schemes

Incentives drive behavior. Recognizing lawyers’ achievements when they do a good job, reach a professional milestone, or work hard on one of your company’s initiatives is critical. Incentive schemes are an effective way to encourage lawyers to positively impact the business by achieving a set of targets that cover all the key elements of the individual’s role. However, imposing targets alone rarely works well. Instead, lawyers should be involved in discussing and agreeing on objectives that they can expect to achieve. Thus, a good incentive scheme should be a transparent and fair system. Publishing appropriate and accurate information against which performance is measured is vital to create a healthy work ethic culture.

2). Feedback

Lawyers would love to receive structured feedback before being told that their performance wasn’t good enough at an annual appraisal. Constructive, timely feedback does help lawyers be aware of deficient areas in which they can improve and also helps mentors mold their employees to perform in the way you envision.

3). Learning

Having opportunities to learn and develop is key to performance.  Firms and organizations should enable individuals to identify their learning needs, engage in suitable programmes, and then apply this knowledge to their daily work.

Technology is shaping the practice of law and changing how legal services are being delivered. Technological skills required in the legal industry are fast evolving. Training in emerging areas such as cybersecurity, data protection and privacy, AI, and blockchain should now be mandatory.

4). Corporate Culture

Successful organizations adopt a positive corporate culture and communicate it well to their employees, and they are more likely to retain their employees and encourage them to excel by lifting morale, motivation, and engagement, ultimately leading to higher productivity.

Also, millennials are drawn to companies with brands and corporate values they respect. Millennials balance social impacts with financial incentives and prefer working with socially responsible organizations. They believe business priorities should enhance employees’ lives and careers and positively impact the environment. Millennials tend to be happier working in a place where they feel they can make a difference to the world. Firms and companies need to re-shape their corporate culture to meet the demands of millennial lawyers.

5). Wellness

To better address the massive changes caused by Covid-19, employers today ought to provide a safer and healthier working environment for their employees who now expect and demand more flexibility from their jobs and support for a healthy work-life balance. With technological advancements, working remotely and alternative hours has been made simple.

Although the legal profession has struggled for years to address well-being issues, law firms nowadays can no longer ignore  these and are implementing holistic wellness initiatives, including fitness programmes, stress management and mental health support. A good wellness programme demonstrates that employers are willing to look after their teams, inspiring them to feel included and part of a greater goal and purpose.

We all know that the most important element of any business is its people. Success in retaining and developing talent will help the business through challenging times ahead and beyond.

Editor: Sam Kenworthy (Director – Head of Private Practice, Hughes-Castell)

Contributor: Fai Choi (Marketing Manager, Hughes-Castell)

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