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5 Ways You Can Create A Stress-Free Culture In Your Law Firm

Posted by: Lynn Sedgwick

A stressed employee is often an unhappy and unproductive employee. Yes, legal work is demanding. However, that doesn’t mean you have to neglect the emotional health of your legal team.

There’s a growing body of research that confirms the link between employee happiness and workplace productivity. A recent study at the University of Warwick revealed that happy employees work harder and are 12% more productive and motivated than those who are unhappy or stressed.

A lot of workplace stress can be alleviated simply by providing opportunities to fulfil basic human needs. In addition to being less stressed, employees who feel their needs are being met in the workplace, feel more comfortable, confident, and are motivated to work more productively.

Here are five simple practices that will help foster a stress-free culture in your law firm.

1. Develop a Wellness Programme

The firm that exercises together, stays together. This is something Japanese businesses have known for some time. Working out as an office will not only help build camaraderie; but research also shows that daily exercise is effective in helping to increase happiness (and lower stress) as anti-depression medication.

Workplace ‘workout’ can take many different forms; from a lunchtime yoga class, to organising an office sports team. You could even arrange to have monthly matches against other law firms. Working together to achieve a common goal on the field will translate to stronger relationships and improved teamwork in the office. It’s also a great way for people to get to know everyone in the law firm better.

In addition to providing opportunities for group exercise, you could bring in a wellness coach to speak to staff on ways they can fit daily exercise and proper nutrition into their busy professional lives. As well as reducing stress, a healthy diet and regular physical exercise will enable your employees to think more clearly, while having greater creativity and productivity.

2. Mentor Young Talent

Workplace mentoring programmes not only help new employees learn the ropes, but they also help them to build strong professional relationships with senior members of staff. In addition to helping them perform more effectively, mentorships give younger new team members a sense of belonging and worth. They are also an effective way for new employees to get answers quickly, allowing them to develop more quickly in their roles.

Research shows that employees who benefit from mentoring programmes have higher job satisfaction, which often correlates to increased productivity and reduced turnover. Frustration and stress over not knowing how to correctly do a job is one of the leading causes of staff turnover for many organisations. Therefore, providing new talent with the support and feedback necessary to carry out their work correctly and effectively will increase both workplace efficiency and retention.

3. Encourage Open Communication & Employee Feedback

Ineffective communication is one of the leading causes of workplace stress and discontent. One of the best ways to reduce uncertainty and anxiety in the workplace is to improve employer to employee communication channels by encouraging open communication between all team members. This will help to ensure that everyone is clear on their purpose and what their role is, which will help to develop a more cohesive community in your firm.

Another great way to help improve workplace culture and reduce stress is by implementing an employee feedback system, where all employees are able to provide feedback to the firm’s leadership team. An employee feedback system will give your employees a sense of importance, allowing them to feel understood by giving them an outlet to voice their opinions and concerns.

4. Focus On Work-Life Balance

The secret behind many highly successful companies is their promotion of work-life balance. In addition to encouraging staff to make the most of their personal time, there are many things your firm can do to promote a healthier work-life balance among your legal team.

You could adopt a flexible schedule, allowing employees to start/end work an hour or two later when needed. In addition to this, you could also implement a work-from-home scheme, where employees might be eligible to occasionally work at home in certain circumstances. Another option is to promote digital downtime by encouraging staff to go for a walk at lunchtime and take ‘digital breaks’.

Allowing your employees to take time off when they’re feeling worn out — or encouraging them to work from home when appropriate — can make a big difference in the health and satisfaction of your legal team.

5. Recognise and Reward Employee Achievements

Employees appreciate sincere and specific recognition of their contributions and achievements. Effectively recognising your team members will not only increase their sense of belonging in your law firm, it will simultaneously reduce any work-related anxiety, while increasing their commitment to their role, resulting in a happier and more productive employee.

However, it’s important that employee rewards are not forced or seem contrived. While there are many recognition-schemes your firm could adopt, it’s crucial to ensure that these acknowledgements do not become expectations or entitlements. Each recognition should be tailored to the individual employee and the nature of their contribution.

Implementing an employee recognition programme that effectively rewards the successes of your staff, will not only help you to reduce stress and engage your employees, it will also work to attract the top talent you want on your legal team.

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