year end bonuses

You’ve read the news and you know workers are quitting their jobs in droves. The so-called “Great Resignation” is upon us, and it’s making employers’ jobs difficult at a time when life isn’t exactly easy. Law firms, with their culture of long hours and high stress, have been hit especially hard, which is why Big Law is responding with a tried and true strategy: money.

Annual bonuses from the biggest law firms are set to match last year’s stratospheric amounts of between $15,000 and $100,000, and special bonuses are expected to arrive on top of all that! Attorneys have been more overworked than ever in another year of record profits, and partners are hoping that a hefty wad of cash will convince associates that this is okay.

The bonuses upon bonuses—did we mention that many Big Law firms gave fall bonuses on top of annual bonuses in 2020, and some even announced spring bonuses in 2021?—are not just compensation for ever-longer hours. They also arrive as an incentive to get lawyers back to the office, as many major firms plan to reopen in early 2022.

Knowing this, small law firms may understandably be worried. After all, no matter how successful your year, you don’t have $100,000 to toss at associates, so you have good reason to wonder what’s stopping your team members from joining the ship-jumping masses. Luckily, a central driver of the Great Resignation is that workers are awakening to the fact that there’s more to life than money. This means that, while you might not be able to match Big Law bonuses, you can show appreciation in other ways that might carry even greater value for your team.

Meaningful Year-End Bonuses That Won’t Break the Bank
Coming up with affordable ways to show your team genuine appreciation and add real value to their position is feasible if you reflect on why so many workers are unhappy. The events of the last two years, coupled with the experience of working from home, have underscored the importance of balance, the fragility of life, and the crucial need to make the most of the time we have. This is why workers are quitting stable jobs in favor of chasing entrepreneurial ambitions, or making a mid-career pivot. There would be no need for this, however, if their current position acknowledged these shifting priorities.

Give Your Team the Gift of Time
Big Law’s offers big bonuses because they are buying their attorneys’ time at a moment when time has never been so precious. Cash in on this by giving your attorneys and other legal staff the one thing better than bought time: time, itself. A week off over the holidays will mean more than you might imagine, and comes with the corollary benefit of giving you an excuse to relax, too!

Show Some Love
A customized gift coupled with some heartfelt words about a team member’s contribution makes a lasting impact. Companies like Knack and Boxfox allow you to easily arrange individual gifts, and sincere words of recognition require no more than a pen and paper. Human beings, by nature, thrive on being seen, so you might be surprised by just how far such a gesture can go in improving your team’s morale.

Give an Experience
At a small firm, everyone gets pretty cozy, which means you know who on your team adores baseball, who’s an opera nerd, and who would give a kidney for ski passes on a powder day. Use this knowledge to show not only that you really do know your team, but that you support them in pursuing those things that fill them with joy. Pair those ski passes with a bonus day off to be used at leisure, and you can rest easy knowing that you’ve given a gift as good as gold.

At Hiring & Empowering Solutions, we know how challenging it is for small firm leaders to devise a year-end bonus structure that works for their firm’s budget, while also effectively showing team members how appreciated and valued they are. Register today for a free virtual training seminar on Thursday, December 9, 2021 at 4pm MT and dive deeper into the topic of year-end bonuses that won’t break the bank (or leave team members feeling underappreciated).

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