staffing crisis and legal recruiting

As Covid-19 numbers decrease and governments begin to tepidly reduce restrictions worldwide, it can be easy to assume that the many issues originating from the pandemic are beginning to ease. This may be true in certain cases, but where the staffing crisis is concerned, it certainly is not. Why? Because the staffing crisis didn’t originate with the pandemic in the first place. Rather, the pandemic simply drove the many extant employee engagement issues into overdrive. While fewer people may be falling ill, no fewer are falling out of love with their jobs…which is why now’s the time to get creative with legal recruiting.

Employee Engagement Was an Issue Before the Virus Hit

Talk to legal staffing agencies anywhere, and they will all tell you that attracting legal talent has been a long-brewing problem.

Covid-19 drove many baby boomers into retirement, but it’s not as if most didn’t already have one foot out the door. Likewise, working-age adults were already trending towards a preference for temporary work over full-time employment when the pandemic kicked this trend into high gear.

Other factors behind the staffing crisis that have long existed, but that were accelerated by Covid-19 include a mental health and substance abuse epidemic, and an increasing trend toward industry-hopping throughout one’s career.

For all of these reasons (and many more), legal recruiting isn’t about to get easier anytime soon.

How to Creatively Nurture Employee Engagement

An essential detail to understand about the staffing crisis is that it doesn’t come from a lack of talent, but from a lack of desire. Today’s employees simply don’t want what yesterday’s employers are offering. As scary as it may seem, this means change is the only way out for floundering law firms. Specifically, this looks like:

1. Better Tech

For years now, legal staffing agencies have highlighted the importance of engaging cutting-edge technology, even at small firms.

Like everything else, the legal industry went digital long ago. If you’re not caught up, you’re bound to be looked over. Millennials (not to mention Gen Z) grew up on a diet rich in tech, and simply don’t tolerate performing menial tasks a computer could easily handle. Like you, they want to be the best at their jobs, and they know that means capitalizing on all that technology has to offer.

The intolerance for poor tech spiked during the pandemic because, while working from home, many employees discovered that they could equip their home office with the software, hardware, and web-based resources they lacked at their offices. Now that they’ve gained a taste of the difference this makes, they won’t be coming back if you don’t meet them where they expect to be met.

2. Greater Flexibility

Back in 2019, before “coronavirus” was a word everyone knew, 70 percent of lawyers surveyed were already saying that flexible hours or remote work opportunities were the most attractive incentives a firm could offer. In 2022, this is even truer.

Top talent is done with being in the office from 9:00 to 5:00 (or, more commonly, 9:00 to 9:00) five days a week. You simply need to get on board.

3. Practicing with Purpose

Young talent is mission-driven. Millennials and members of Gen Z want their professional work to reflect their personal values.

For some, this looks like volunteer-able hours, for others it looks like corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, and for others still it looks like gift-giving, philanthropy, or engagement in community programs.

The above are only a small number of the many ways your firm can creatively engage new talent, and thereby cauterize the staffing crisis bleed.

To learn more about empowering your team and gaining a foothold in the fast-changing labor market, do not hesitate to book a call with me, Molly McGrath, an bestselling author and the founder of Hiring & Empowering Solutions. In my decades of experience, I have learned how to seamlessly navigate the legal staffing world, and I can help you do the same.

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