Attorneys, listen up. This may comes as a surprise, but your employees do not need your paycheck. Your old war cry of, “It’s so hard to find good help,” has shifted dramatically in favor of employees. Now you may find yourself crying, “It’s so hard to find ANY help…good, bad or the other!” The unemployment rate is momentously low at only 3.9%—with average unemployment rates of 1.9% for attorneys and 3.1% for paralegals, just to add salt to the wound. And recruiting top talent is harder than ever! Gone are the days of publishing an ad and getting hundreds of resumes. Unless you have a giant pay-per-click budget of $1500+ per ad, and can run that ad on multiple recruiting platforms, chances are you’re not going to reach many qualified candidates. And, even then, you have to sit by the phone like a professional recruiter because, if you wait three days to reply to an applicant, they’ll already have multiple offers in hand.
Yes, more than ever employees are in the driver seat and are interviewing your firm, more so than your firm is interviewing them. The quality of the questions coming from the employee’s side have never been richer. They want to know about the firms values, what happened to the employees who came before them, the company’s financial security, and accessibility to leadership, supervisors and trainers, etc. They want to know what the employee manual says, what the training process looks like, what the firm’s quarterly goals are, what the evaluation and raise process is. And the #1 question: what are the uniform communication verticals. They want to know about the management of the firm; their expectations and values.
Then, only after those questions are answered, come the money, benefits and perks inquiries. Shockingly, this is secondary after your potential new hire knows who they will working for. In the words of one job candidate, “The money is secondary after I hear about the communication styles, the availability of management, and their training processes. Regardless of the starting pay and vague promises for ‘opportunity’ and ‘work/life balance,’ if the leaders are unapproachable and don’t see their employees as the greatest asset in their business, I’ll pass.” Again, these are a job candidate’s words.
But it’s not all doom and gloom! If you are willing to be a great employer—and believe in giving your team time, attention and consistent feedback—then you are in mega luck!
Let us try to paint a very real picture for you. We helped a very busy law firm hire a new Legal Assistant. The firm was too busy to focus on hiring—they actually had three new positions available. We started with the first open positions, and then once a new hire was in place, we quickly moved to the second position. The firm was also too busy to schedule the 30-day onboarding process calls included in our Smart Hire Solution program fee. Our COO reminded them several times to get their 30-day onboarding and goal-setting call in the books. As quickly as it was scheduled, it would be cancelled due to “emergencies and crises in the firm.” We finally got the 30-day review (note: we were never able to schedule an initial goal-setting call) in the books, 45-days into the new hire’s start date. We conducted the review call on video—body language says everything—and there were 150 red flags in the managing partner’s, team leader’s and new employee’s body languages. But we ended the call with everyone claiming they were excited, empowered, and ready to the hit the ground running for the next 30-days, and that they couldn’t wait to declare their success in our 60-day review.
One week later, we got a call from the employee. “Molly, I just quit and wanted to provide you with very specific reasons why, so I can support you in finding the best candidate for the working conditions at this firm.”
So here they are. Nine reasons your qualified, invested employee just quit (and what NOT to do if you’d like to retain your employees):
1. Unavailable, unapproachable leadership. The candidate strongly communicated that, “The attorney’s hourly rate is $450 hour. If you needed to talk to her, you’d better be able to go back to your desk and bill the amount of revenue she lost while you were talking to her.”
2. Frustration about the firm’s mission & vision statement.
3. Lack of a structured training process
4. Inconsistent communication.
5. Existing employees are disengaged.
6. Undelivered promises. “We spent more time apologizing, backtracking and making things up to everybody—clients, referral sources and employees. We couldn’t get a win. We never got in the car at the end of our day or week feeling victorious, like, ‘wow, we over delivered.’”
7. Absence of recognition; feeling undervalued and under-appreciated.
8. Lack of office culture. It feels like a factory filled with walking robots.
9. No joy or fun to engage employees on an emotional level.
But here is the good news: if you can make certain you are not making the above nine mistakes and have thoroughly communicated the open position in your employment ads, interviewing, onboarding process, you will land the most qualified, empowered employees that will not only work long hours and protect and defend your time as a business owner, but they will never, ever leave—no matter how much money is waved at them. And this is especially important now, with the current shallow talent pool who have recruiters inboxing them daily with messages saying, “Are you sure you’re happy? I have the most perfect job for you!” Yes, this is actually happening…
Schedule a Free Discovery Session
If you need help implementing a recruiting strategy and revolving-door-proof employee hiring and training plan, schedule a free 30-minute discovery session with Molly. We can discuss the position of your small law firm, determine your recruiting and staffing needs, and identify areas of opportunity for your firm’s culture and leadership development. Click the button below to schedule your free discovery session!