employee loyalty and employee engagementThe unemployment rate is about as low as it’s ever been, holding steady at 3.8% throughout February and March. For employees, this is great news! For the U.S. economy, even better! But for your boutique law firm? Scary.

In an economic climate that is so conducive to job hopping—the current quit-rate is 2.4%, the highest we’ve seen since 2001—employee retention is more important than ever, especially for small businesses. Recruiting, hiring and training is time-consuming and expensive. A revolving door of employees coming and going simply isn’t sustainable for a small firm with limited resources. And as if the many outside job opportunities available to your team members wasn’t enough of an obstacle, you have to worry about other firms poaching your top team members, luring them away with the promise of more money.

Well, fortunately, money isn’t everything and there are several tried-and-true techniques to increase employee retention…even if your firm is a small fish in a big sea.

Here are 4 proven ways to increase employee retention and engagement:

1. Get on board with onboarding. A good (or bad) onboarding program can make-or-break the amount of time your new hire stays with your firm. Over the first 90-days, get your new hire up to speed on the nature of your firm, its mission, and its core values. Show them the ropes, and equip them with the knowledge, authority, and tools they need to excel at their jobs. Answer their questions, introduce them to their coworkers, and integrate them into the culture of your firm. Our Smart Hire Solution™ for recruiting and hiring law firm staff includes a detailed 90-day onboarding manual that ensures your new hire has no uncertainties as he or she takes on their role at your firm. If your employees still have questions after 90-days, or are unsure of how to do their job, it’s a sign of trouble ahead…

2. Remember…employees don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses. As the leader of your firm, your job is to LEAD…not manage. A good leader works alongside his or her team—staying late when they stay late, keeping their door open, empowering employees to take ownership of their roles, asking team members for feedback and input, and saying two little words that go a really long way: “thank you.” These actions help foster an environment of mutual respect, whereas barking orders and micromanaging your team members and the work they’re doing will only breed resentments. And resentments drive employees out the door.

3. Engage and empower your team members. Engaged employees know that their work matters, and feel ownership to their firms. They take the firm’s performance personally, and work hard to increase productivity and profit. A huge part of what we do here at Hiring & Empowering Solutions is work with law firm leaders and their teams to improve engagement and empowerment across the board. There are several ways that your firm can increase engagement: set team- or firm-wide goals that encourage teamwork and boost camaraderie; equip them with the knowledge and tools they need to be authoritative and independent in their role; and offer training and development. Consider enrolling in our Team Empowerment Academy—it’s the nation’s only recognized program, designed to engage and empower law firm leaders and their teams.

4. Money isn’t everything. Offering fair compensation is obviously important…but it goes without saying that most small law firms can’t compete with a Big Law firm when it comes to salary, insurance, and bonus structure. Offering flexible work schedules, the option to work from home, and paid time off can improve employee retention…though many Big Law firms also offer those perks. However, one thing that Big Law can’t offer is the feeling of being a leader. Of being important. Of being a valued member of the team. Of being a big fish in a small sea. Empower your team members to step up and lead—to make a real difference at your firm—and you’ll be giving them something that most big law firms simply can’t compete with.

Keeping your team members loyal, happy and engaged—and stopping that revolving door of employees once and for all—is imperative to the success of your firm. If you’re struggling with high employee turnover or employees who seem bored or disengaged, schedule your free 30-minute discovery session—we’d love to chat about whatever your firm is struggling with, and help brainstorm some solutions!

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