banner image

The Boomerang Hire: Your Answer to the Skills Shortage Problem?

Finding a lasting solution to the industry-wide skills shortage continues to be a challenge for firms in the hiring market today. Despite the evolution that the Great Resignation has sparked in hiring practices across the sector and the many approaches adopted by hiring teams to combat the increasing skills gap, acquiring the talent one needs to keep their business competitive in a cut-throat market proves to be as elusive a pursuit as ever. One approach however that has gained huge traction in recent years amongst firms is the recruitment of Boomerang Hires – a practice that involves rehiring employees who have previously left the organisation – and to employers bereft of options and under pressure to keep their business afloat, it shows a lot of promise.

Why is an ex-hire Worth it?

Purely from a cost perspective, it is a tantalising prospect – as they not only require far less onboarding than your usual new hire but their familiarity with the business’s modus operandi and established dynamics means you get something close to what any recruiting firm is looking for in a new hire – one that slots in seamlessly into the business structure and hits the ground running performance-wise in as short a timeframe as possible. And, in some cases, perhaps the icing on top of the cake is the experience and expertise your firm will be gaining twofold with their return.

Little wonder then that this has quickly become a hit with employers in recent times, and although not a new phenomenon, it’s certainly an increasingly prominent one. A HBR report released this year revealed that 28% of new hires in organisations studied were found to be boomerang hires that had resigned within the past three years. And this isn’t due to the trigger-happy response we’ve now come to expect from employees in the Great Resignation era either – businesses have become not only open but actually intentional about recruiting ex-hires as part of their hiring strategy. When necessity dictates diversity of approach, we begin to see the most interesting of them come to the fore.

High-Risk, High-Reward

There is however, an inherent risk that comes with it, considering the boomerang hire phenomenon cuts both ways for a hiring firm, as any new hire (boomerang employees included) employed is also susceptible to boomeranging back to their previous employer, or in the case of the latter, leaving your firm hung out to dry a second time, and can make retention a very counterproductive and unwelcome by-product of this hiring approach. When discussing the boomerang hire as a solution to the skills gap problem, a few things ought to be kept front of mind. Firstly, how can you avoid being on the wrong side of the boomerang hire equation and secondly, how can you leverage the value it provides to inform a hiring strategy that effectively addresses the skills shortage within your firm?

First Things First

If you are considering going down the boomerang hire route hiring-wise, then know that it requires a significant amount of groundwork to be laid first and should not be viewed as a band-aid fix for a turnover problem. Making an offer convincing enough for an ex-employee to return first requires a thorough understanding of where your firm has missed the mark with regard to employee satisfaction in the past, and what steps must be taken to address it both before and after the boomerang point.

This firstly involves a mutual understanding between management and workers of why employees are leaving in the first place, and acknowledging the part the firm has played in it. The goal of this is to address existing pain points within the company – and in particular, beyond salary and benefits, so as to avoid the trap of making a glorified counteroffer to ex-hires when the time comes to reach out. As research shows that compensation concerns do not tell the full story of why employees opt to leave, and that there are often underlying and unspoken factors at play, the act of encouraging employees to voice out their concerns serves to inform your decision-making and will likely pay off when approaching ex-hires down the line.

Whatever the area of improvement involves, whether that be investing in the professional development and growth of your employees, providing opportunities for upskilling, mentoring programs, and continuous learning initiatives or simply rebuilding the firm culture from the ground up – addressing them not only allows you to perform the open-heart surgery your firm needs, but also sets the foundation for a better overall employee experience and keeps the possibility of any new hires boomeranging to an absolute minimum.

An Open Door Requires Open (and Honest) Communication

This endeavour to maintain an open and honest dialogue between both parties should also be applied at every stage of the leaver process, especially before an employee exit, when they, and particularly their reasons, need to be treated with dignity and respect. A sit-down with departing individuals to discuss and understand what led to their decision, raise concerns, and provide assurances that the door will always be open for them should they wish to return, can be a great way to end the working relationship on a positive note and build the sense of trust and openness that is so crucial for later discourse to be fruitful. Be wary of the classic blame game that can arise in such discussions, as this can sour the relationship and leave a bad aftertaste in the mouths of both parties. Succumbing to the temptation of assigning blame or pointing fingers does your future hiring efforts no good here, even if it may feel like the most natural thing to do in the spur of the moment.

Following this should be a genuine effort to keep the lines of communication open between both parties after departure, in order to extend the quality of the employee experience post-exit and ensure a smooth transition for a return if and when it does happen. This could involve investing in an alumni network of sorts to maintain relationships between existing former employees, provide networking opportunities and most importantly, give ex-hires a means to reconnect with their former employer should the need for it arise.

This is particularly useful when bearing in mind the timing of communication. Research suggests that the one-year anniversary of a former employee’s departure is the optimal time to reconnect and make a re-hire offer. This isn’t only because it’s when they’re most likely to boomerang back to their previous employer, but it’s also because it represents the ideal and least awkward time for employers to take that first step of reaching out. For any employee strongly considering making a 180 in the other direction especially, it can be a godsend.

Protect Your Assets – Old and New

When considering what constitutes a worthwhile offer, this will largely depend on the flexibility of your firm. The key thing to bear in mind here is the balance that must be struck between making an offer worth considering – pay and promotion-wise – and making one that doesn’t come at the expense of your present employees. While it is certainly true that a pay rise can sweeten the deal, it cannot be the meat of the argument pitched to an ex-hire. Failing to keep existing employees front of mind puts the trust, commitment and relationships built at risk, as it sets an unwelcome precedent that anyone within the business can play the victim card, leave the firm high and dry and get away with it with a fatter salary in the end. What is best practice in such scenarios is to make the suggested changes outlined above the heart of your proposal and the crux of the conversation with the ex-employee. Only when this is done with a focus on prioritising equity in the firm, can the boomerang hire approach bring immense value to all parties, new or old.

This same level of care must be taken when looking at the other side of the boomerang hire as a strategy, as largely the same rules apply with new hires, especially considering the amount of overlap between the reasons employees opt to boomerang and the biggest drivers of the Great Resignation today. Any perceived gap between what is promised and what is delivered by new recruits, whether that be explicit contractual breaches or an unspoken violation of agreement terms, is going to get heads turning in the opposite direction wondering if the grass really is greener on the other side. This is particularly important when discussing the more intangible aspects of a contract, such as promotions, benefits, or progression opportunities as these sit at the heart of a legal professional’s demands in the current day and age. When expectations begin to differ from reality here, it becomes increasingly difficult for a new hire leaving behind a lot of social and company capital to justify sticking with their decision and avoid boomeranging.

The best way, therefore, to eliminate this risk and address any issues brewing under the surface is, perhaps unsurprisingly, regular communication between management and new recruits, whether in the form of check-ins or stay interviews, to get a clear picture of what their experience has been so far compared to the specifics of the job pitched to them at the interview. This helps to bring any disparities to light and enables management to address highlighted discrepancies and misunderstandings early before they evolve into actual psychological contract breaches or a growing resentment towards management for a perceived set of broken promises. This can be further buttressed by a conscious effort beforehand to outline to legal candidates what is to be expected from a position on offer in interviews, and ensure the right picture is painted from the onset.

Does the Shoe Fit?

Boomerang hires present a fantastic opportunity for legal employers to approach the skills gap problem from a unique angle – one that offers a lot of value for firms willing to play their cards right and enables them to bolster their workforce without many of the risks that recruiting a new hire carries. But while they are a unique solution, they only tick some of the boxes that a hiring firm will have its eye on and can leave a lot to be desired when applied at scale. They don’t, for example, take into account the changing needs of your firm hiring-wise, the changes that will already have taken place in their absence or how the role has evolved to best serve the business’s needs since they left. Unlike a new hire, who is more malleable at the very start of their tenure, and easier to adapt to firm demands, a boomerang hire will already have their own ways of working set in stone and can become a square peg in a round hole if not considered carefully beforehand.

Second Chances Require a Second Thought

An equally crucial aspect of their return to look at is the state of their relationship with any existing employees and where this leaves your team morale should they be accepted back into the fold. As it is clear from the data that the reasons for an employee’s departure can at times be vague and ambiguous, there is the risk of unearthing old grudges amongst your current workforce if the cause for resignation was a disconnect between an existing and former employee, especially if it was not made clear beforehand by the boomerang hire pre-departure. The phrase ‘fool me twice’ rings true here for any employer with a boomerang hire at or near the top of their candidate shortlist, as they should only be re-hired if it is absolutely clear the second chance will not be squandered. Without a clear picture of what exactly led to their exit, you are potentially jeopardising the trust and stability of your team.

The Only One-Size-Fits-All-Solution

For hiring problems that present a longstanding challenge to law firms looking to add the right skillset to their teams, the services of a specialist legal recruiter are the future-proof solution. The grasp they have on the market and the experience and know-how they possess in sourcing the talent a firm needs, whatever the scale of change present in their hiring practices, provides far more value in the long run than what any boomerang hire can offer. Particularly in a market where change is thrust at us at an extremely rapid rate, the guidance and support they can provide to navigate the hiring process can be invaluable. What the right boomerang hire cannot solve with all its pluses, a specialist recruiter can do with minimal hassle and much, much more.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

Share This Post

Posted By

Joel Okoye

Digital Marketing Apprentice

banner image

Supporting Neurodiversity in Recruitment

The term “Neurodiversity” is not exactly new – although there is still arguably some uncertainty about what it means, and how specifically it is relevant to the world of work.. The topic has become a much-discussed aspect of DEI in recent years and the impact of its cultural recognition and widespread advocacy – having made many aware of the potential that lies untapped in this group of individuals – has seen the term not only find its way into everyday vernacular, but also spark a change in company hiring practices, with a genuine attempt now seen from businesses to understand and embrace the value such talent can offer, and strive to support them by adapting their hiring practices. 

But despite the focus on the latest update of today’s DEI initiatives, the question remains: has all the buzz translated into a real change in the fate of cognitively diverse professionals when it comes to employability?  

As widely acknowledged, diversity plays a pivotal role in recognising and embracing the inherent differences in human brain functionality. It should, therefore, be clearly reflected in a company’s recruitment process if they genuinely aim to empower neurodivergent candidates and support their success at every step of hiring. The significance of accommodating neurodiversity cannot be underestimated, as it profoundly influences the potential success of these individuals in any position they occupy. However, the question remains, do most recruitment processes today truly embody these principles?

Are Businesses Just Paying Lip Service?

The latest ONS research revealed that the employment rate for people with autism in the UK sits at just 29%, a figure lower than the rate for those with other kinds of impairment, with unemployment rates for the neurodivergent community overall at 30-40%.. A later report written by Auction, an IT consultancy, as part of a survey to investigate neurodiversity in work, found that a third of people with autism admitted that going through traditional recruitment processes was the most difficult part of their career. 

It was also found in a recent EqualTech report by SpartaGlobal that just 21% of survey respondents actually work for businesses that tailor their recruitment practices to neurodivergent candidates, despite 87% of them stating that neurodiversity will be an absolute priority for their companies in 2023. 

So, are employers simply paying lip service? While a lack of commitment to changing engrained recruitment processes to support neurodivergent individuals is a plausible (and apparent) reason for the disparity in expectations and reality, another probable one is the failure of employers to make this aspect of their DEI initiative part of a structured, wider recruitment strategy. Efforts to adapt hiring practices for the benefit of neurodivergent candidates are more often seen in only some stages of the recruitment process, rather than at every point possible, ultimately leading to a disjointed and ineffective approach. 

Eliminating Unconscious Bias In Hiring

Take blind hiring for example. It is a DEI strategy employed to eliminate unconscious biases that can arise from relevant but unnecessary information (such as names, age, years of experience, or level of education) that employers pick up at certain stages of the hiring process. It makes the employer unable to discriminate against candidates because of the lack of information that triggers unconscious biases.

While its value is clear, with successful implementation increasing the likelihood of candidates from minority or disadvantaged groups making it to the interview stage, its potential cannot be maximised unless it is supported by complementary strategies at other stages of the hiring pipeline. One such strategy is the targeted recruitment of neurodivergent candidates through the use of a talent pipeline, which addresses the fact that the strategy of blind hiring cannot increase the diversity of interview pools if not many candidates from the neurodiversity community apply in the first place.  

Building the Foundation for Holistic & Bias-Free Hiring

When talking about implementing complementary strategies, certain things must be set in stone. To begin with, a law firm must be clear on its objectives for its recruitment process. As the starting point and the thread that will be running through your entire recruitment process, how well your objectives are clearly defined and communicated throughout your team will determine the quality of the changes you make in your hiring practices and how effective they will be in facilitating the achievement of said objectives. Whatever that objective may be, whether it’s to improve efforts to adhere to corporate social commitments through an inclusivity-centric process, or to simply improve workforce productivity across the business, it must be well-conveyed and well-supported by the leadership team in the firm at all levels. 

Creating Your Target Persona

Once clear, your objectives should inform the creation of your target persona. The profile you create to represent your key target will not only give you a concrete idea of the skillset you are looking for in your ideal candidate but will also give you the opportunity to test and falsify pre-existing notions and ideas about what you believe is needed to be successful in the role. Are there any assumptions about the importance of social skills or personality traits in the performance of the role? What impact would it have on performance if these skills were absent? Critically assess your selection criteria to eliminate possible biases that can creep in, and ensure it is fully justifiable. 

 It is your target persona that will then determine how you rework and adapt your hiring practices, at every point of the entire recruitment journey. This aspect is where organisations tend to err in meeting the needs of neurodivergent candidates. The true purpose of the hiring process, which is to assess the necessary competencies and traits required for the role, as well as the candidate’s willingness and aptitude for growth, is only partly acknowledged, and at certain stages of recruitment.

This leads to the many flaws still seen in hiring practices, such as the emphasis on social interactions in interviews, which can be particularly difficult for some neurodivergent individuals who struggle with social cues and communication (verbal and non-verbal). 

Stage One: Effective Job Descriptions 

Any recruitment process built to facilitate the success of neurodivergent candidates must be reworked and adapted from the starting point to the endpoint; in other words, it must begin supporting candidates before they get to the interview stage.

Its success starts right from when candidates read the job descriptions that advertise these roles, and get both the information and the accessibility they need to proceed with the application, not simply one or the other. This involves things such as the kind of language used, as well as the choice of terminology to describe the skills required for the role. With job descriptions that are designed to cater to neurodivergent candidates, the watchword to follow is clarity; your choice of words should clearly and plainly describe the role and the requirements necessary to be considered for progression. Outline which ones are must-haves in a simple and presentable format (a simple bullet point of skills required works best here) but avoid unnecessarily broad and generic phrases like “must be a good communicator or “must have strong teamwork skills’’, especially if they are not traits required to be effective in the role. They attach an unneeded sense of exclusivity to the required competencies that can mislead candidates into thinking they are not adequately qualified to apply.

You can add in a section clearly listing skills that are desirable, but take care not to bloat your job advert with a skill wish list, as this can equally be as off-putting to neurodivergent individuals. 

Consider An Accommodation Statement

Another good way to demonstrate your willingness to support applicants is to explicitly let them know you intend to do so through an accommodation statement. This is a crucial but often overlooked aspect of job adverts (if they’re even included at all), as it can help to eliminate the source of their worries when considering applying. Letting them know that they will receive the necessary support and accommodation should they need it, helps to break down the initial mental barrier that can prove problematic during this first stage of the hiring process.  

Stage Two: Review & Interview

Whist an adapted ‘traditional’ application process is still the best method of assessing candidates for some businesses, unconscious bias does remain an issue at this stage, and the adoption of alternative evaluation methods can help to mitigate this. In addition to the practice of blind hiring suggested previously, you can consider using a scoring system against a set of questions. This approach puts the focus on experiences and skills that can be overlooked in favour of good CV writing skills or a first-class honours degree. Other methods like video submissions, workshops, and telephone applications are approaches you can and should be open to – the onus is on you to experiment and get creative with your recruitment practices! 

The interview stage has always presented the biggest challenge to overcome for neurodivergent candidates. And, whilst it’s not realistic to discount this stage in its entirety, they should not be the sole evaluation method, but balanced with other assessment techniques in order to provide a fairer and more accurate appraisal of candidates. For example, consider assigning less weight to interviews in the overall evaluation process and couple them with a work trial instead, to allow for a more skills-focused assessment of suitability for the role. 

Equally as important, is your level of proactivity in offering reasonable accommodations during this stage. Not only does this create the optimal conditions needed for the interviewing candidate to perform at their best, but it also helps to quell any anxiety that may arise because of the occasion. It also communicates a willingness as an employer to do everything you can to see that individual succeed. Whether this involves arranging for flexible interview locations, permitting the use of screen readers during online assessments, or even providing interview questions via chat during virtual interviews or before an interview to enhance accessibility, you should ensure you’re well-prepared to facilitate their success. 

Stage Three: Post-Interview Process 

Following the interview or review stage, the focus should be on providing constructive and prompt feedback to candidates. Avoid the common mistake of ‘ghosting’, and instead communicate your reasons for your decision on the outcome of their application process, openly and transparently. Let decisions made on their suitability be made primarily based on the competency demonstrated for the role, and avoid making hasty judgements based on what might be perceived as ‘awkward’ moments, unconventional body language, or a perceived lack of social skills, as these may not have any impact at all on the candidate’s ability to perform the job effectively. By building this two-way line of communication you are not only fostering transparency across the recruitment team but are also improving your hiring process. 

The recruitment process for any legal candidate can be overwhelming – and the same applies for the law firm itself, particularly when market conditions are challenging. Recruiting under pressure can mean that processes aren’t followed in the same manner, including ethical recruitment practices and standards, albeit temporarily. In short, practices designed to ensure the highest standards of professionalism, fairness, and transparency is key. 

Stage Four: Onboarding 

Although it is one of the less obvious aspects of the recruitment journey when the contracts are signed and the start date has been agreed, onboarding is a process that requires just as much attention and preparation as any other stage when welcoming a neurodivergent employee into your team.

Onboarding neurodivergent employees is not a one-size fits all approach. Employers need to be acutely aware of how their new recruit works, in order to understand how best to engage and optimise the potential their talent brings. 

Educating the existing team with diversity awareness training in advance of a neurodivergent colleague starting is crucial, as it will ensure that colleagues know how to communicate with the individual, learn about and understand particular characteristics and preferences while respecting their privacy & dignity. It also helps them avoid making presumptions about what the best way to carry out the onboarding process is. For example, common icebreaker activities that are used to help introduce new employees to the team can be quite stressful and anxiety-inducing for neurodivergent individuals and often end up becoming counter-productive. A better way to approach it would be to speak with your new starter beforehand to find out how best they would like to meet their new team members and ideally have a conversation with the management or other senior figures about their new colleague so that the team better understands what to expect in the short, medium, and long term. 

As such, a line manager or management team that is willing to be supportive and patient enough to train up their new employee is key to the success of their onboarding. They need to know that no matter the need, their manager is always approachable and available to help. This is also where the help and input of colleagues to help the new employee ease into their new environment can be instrumental. Quick but regular check-ins via email or inviting them out for a bite at lunchtime can go a long way in helping the individual to settle in and quickly feel part of the team.

And Finally

Much is written about the importance of organisations reviewing (and amending) their recruitment process to enable cognitively diverse candidates to showcase their strengths. However, recognising the value of neurodiversity in the workplace and facilitating their success, is just the beginning of a larger journey towards fostering an inclusive and thriving workplace culture. Efforts to support neurodivergent candidates should extend beyond the recruitment process, as neurodiversity should be embraced as an asset that brings out the unique perspectives and talents of all employees. This is how you as an employer can build an inclusive culture in the workplace and maintain a supportive environment, to ensure your workforce is fully optimised. 

In a much-documented skills-short market, ensuring that the proverbial net is cast far and wide is critical for law firms to remain competitive, and their hiring objectives on track. Revaluating your recruitment process is an easy way to tap into the wide range of neurodiverse talent who may have been overlooked for employment, or put off reaching out proactively by that critical first experience and interaction with your firm.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

 

Share This Post

Posted By

Joel Okoye

Digital Marketing Apprentice

banner image

Head-Turning Job Descriptions: A Guide

  • July 6, 2023

Hiring amazing talent in any industry starts with attracting the right people.

Yet, as reports of the Great Resignation rumble on, and we continue to see an ongoing transformation of the workplace, capturing the attention of amazing legal candidates isn’t easy.

According to current industry data, 95% of employers say they find it extremely difficult to fill the gaps in their team, thanks to today’s competitive market.

And, with many Law Firms continuing to press ahead with their hiring for the coming year,  managing partners need to work harder than ever to make their listings stand out amongst the clutter.

It all starts with writing the most effective job descriptions.

Even as the hiring landscape evolves, legal candidates still rely on engaging, informative, and powerful job descriptions to determine which law firm best fits their needs.

The best job descriptions combine critical insights into an available role, with a touch of marketing and a behind-the-scenes look at firm culture. It’s not enough to list the required skills and experience under a quick summary of what a job entails.

To attract loyal, engaged employees to your teams, you need to highlight information that matters to top talent. Today’s job descriptions should focus on the benefits you can offer as an employer, your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and a clear overview of why legal candidates should choose your firm over dozens of competitors.

Today, we’re exploring how employers in the industry can turbocharge their job descriptions and ensure they’re attracting the widest selection of talented legal professionals.

What is a job description’s function, and is it still important?

Job descriptions are simple documents outlining the essential responsibilities involved in a role. They highlight the qualifications and experience a candidate needs to excel in a position, describe the type of work they’re going to perform, and offer insights into the benefits of a role.

Job descriptions have grown increasingly critical over the years as legal employers struggle to find the best talent. Today’s law firms are now using job descriptions to outline the key components of a role and essentially put their best foot forwards to qualified candidates.

An effective job description ensures your brand can attract candidates and fill crucial skill gaps. In fact, 52% of job seekers in a recent Indeed research report say job descriptions directly influence their decision on whether or not to apply for a role.

Job descriptions help you to outline exactly what you need from a new employee, so you can make the right decision about whom to hire first-time around. These documents also:

  • Give candidates a clear idea of what to expect from a role
  • Act as a guide when making hiring decisions
  • Communicates the expectations aligned with a role
  • Form the foundation for interview questions

What are the Core Components of a Good Job Description?

Many firms have a unique process for writing job descriptions. Those responsible for hiring within the firm may work with existing employees to build descriptions based on feedback from staff and, importantly, what they need the employee to deliver in that role.

Others leverage the skills of legal recruitment agencies like ourselves to boost their document’s performance. According to Indeed, to write an effective job description, companies must find the right balance between providing concise, straightforward information, and using the right details to engage, excite, and intrigue candidates.

Typically, your job description will include the following information:

A Title & Summary

The first component of a good job description is a role title and a summary of what the position entails. Highlight the nature of the role (whether it’s permanent, full-time, or contract) and how you expect your employee to work (in-office, remote, or hybrid). Keep in mind flexible working options could make your job descriptions more attractive. 76% of professionals say they’d like to work fewer traditional hours and want a flexible approach to when and how they work.

Remember to use a specific, easy-to-understand job title to avoid confusing your potential candidates with jargon. Talk to your legal recruitment agency if you’re unsure what your title and summary should be – especially in order to widen the net and attract more suitable candidates.

An “About Us Section

This section is where you can really ‘sell’ your firm and provide an introduction to who you are. Whilst some law firms can rely to some extent on the weight of their brand and reputation in the market, the best talent these days are looking for evidence of an empathetic, inclusive, and reliable employer – so focussing on how you bring this to life is paramount. You can highlight your firm culture, vision, and purpose here and give your potential candidates an insight into your values, such as a commitment to innovation, collaboration, and evolution.

The “About Us” section is also a fantastic space to highlight critical DEI information. 50% of employees currently believe their employer isn’t doing enough to promote diversity, so highlighting how you address this from the get-go will undoubtedly pay dividends amongst jobseekers in the market.

The Role and Responsibilities

Your job description is important in setting expectations for your legal employees. You should outline the core purpose of the role straight away and what your team members will be responsible for in this position. Make sure your list of responsibilities is as clear as possible, with no industry jargon, unclear acronyms, or confusing language.

Be precise and let team members know what kind of systems and software they will be working with, what case loads they will be dealing with, and what the short and long-term objectives of the role might be.

Competencies and Skills

This section of the job description tells your legal candidates what characteristics you’re looking for in an employee. Essentially, it’s a checklist of everything a good employee will need to perform well in the role. Avoid listing educational requirements and skills that aren’t entirely necessary here, as it could stop potentially good candidates from considering your opportunity.
Create a list of specific skills and qualifications your team member will require. Highlight whether they need experience working with certain programmes or platforms, and draw attention to any on-the-job training you can offer. You may also want to outline some basic traits you’re looking for, such as punctuality and proactivity.

The Benefits and Salary

Finally, you’ll need to show your candidates what’s “in it for them” if they decide to join your team. Provide an insight into the kind of salary your candidate can expect. You can choose a salary “range” if you’re open to negotiations. Just make sure it’s in line with the average for that job role in that particular region.

Don’t forget to draw attention to benefits too. Many employees find benefits to be just as attractive as a good level of remuneration. For instance, maybe you can offer flexible and remote work, a four-day workweek, or access to in-house therapy and mental health support.

A good way to make your benefits more attractive is to write them in a way that helps your candidates envision what it might be like to work with you. For instance, instead of writing “4-day work week”, write, “Start your weekend early every week with a four-day schedule, so you have more time for family and friends.”

Remember to discuss your decisions with the recruitment agency working with you on the role. They speak to candidates daily, so they can tell you exactly what the candidate you are looking for wants in a role.

Top Tips for More Compelling Job Descriptions

Writing effective job descriptions for candidates in today’s current legal landscape isn’t just about ensuring you include all the right information. In competitive markets, it’s important to look for ways of making your job descriptions more compelling and actively ‘sell’ the role to jobseekers.

Here are some quick tips to help you attract more candidates.

1.  Improve the Opening Section

It’s becoming extremely difficult to make job descriptions stand out these days. Your potential candidates will be scanning through job listings daily. That’s why it’s important to make sure you instantly grab your talent’s attention.

A good way to make your descriptions more compelling is to focus on the benefits the candidate can expect immediately. Rather than starting with a phrase like “The ideal candidate will”, talk about what your employees will get from you. For instance, “This role gives you a unique opportunity to work with world-class clients on a flexible schedule.” Focus therefore on ‘what’s in it for them’ rather than your list of stipulations and requirements.

2.  Communicate Your Compelling Culture Clearly

Legal candidates are a lot pickier about where they work in today’s jobs market. With that in mind, it’s important to highlight the culture of your firm straight away, so talent can determine whether your firm really fits their needs. Introduce your brand’s vision and mission, values, and commitment to building a diverse workforce.

Discuss the firm culture employees can expect, introducing concepts like remote work opportunities, flexible schedules, and team-building exercises. Consider including genuine insights and quotes from your existing legal employees. This is a great way to demonstrate your firm’s credibility and authenticity.

Whilst a written job description can only do so much to demonstrate such things as ‘culture’, why not include links to your website, or even better…a dedicated landing page focused on hiring where you can include such things as employee testimonials, videos that highlight the working environment, and any other feature of your firm that you believe is attractive to potential new hires.

3.  Make Information Easily Accessible

Job descriptions need to be informative, but candidates don’t want to be overwhelmed with huge amounts of text and complicated words. Consider cutting down on lengthy sentences and switching to bullet points where possible. This will help your candidates scan your content and find the necessary information to determine whether they should apply.

Experimenting with different kinds of content is a good way to make your job descriptions a little more engaging. Alongside paragraphs and bullet points, again, link to videos to provide insight into your firm with statements and stories from current employees. Show candidates the office space, and let them hear the hiring manager’s voice to make your content more memorable.

4.  Double-Check Your Content is Inclusive

As demand for diverse, equitable, and inclusive employers continues to rise, it’s more important than ever to double-check that your content doesn’t include any evidence of bias. Unconscious bias can easily creep into job descriptions and prevent crucial talent from applying.

For instance, you may use words like “young go-getter” or “experienced veteran” without malicious intent, but these terms alienate whole age groups within your candidate pool. When writing your job descriptions, watch out for any language which might make your description less appealing to a specific gender, age group, or ethnic group.

If you’re worried your diversity message isn’t clear enough, talk to your recruitment consultant, who will be able to advise you on how to include your commitment to DEI, and ensure your job descrptions don’t inadvertently trip you up.

5.  Be Transparent About the Candidate Experience

Setting expectations in the job description is an excellent way to save time for your team and your potential candidates. Being open and clear in your job description about what the interview will entail and how decisions will be made shows your candidates that they can expect a straightforward hiring journey with you.

Highlight whether there are likely to be any post-interview tests your candidates will need to complete, and let your potential employees know if interviews will happen in person or virtually. It may also be worth introducing some basic information about the onboarding experience for successful candidates.

(It’s also worth reading our blog on ‘ethical recruitment’ here to ensure that all your recruitment practices ensure the highest standards of professionalism, fairness, and transparency).

6.  Ask for Feedback

As employee and candidate expectations change, it can be difficult to consistently update your job descriptions in a way that generates real results without a little help. Fortunately, there are various places where you can cultivate feedback. Ask your existing team members for help in making your job descriptions stand out. They can tell you what benefits make your role more compelling and what information you might have missed.

Speak to your legal recruitment agency for advice on how to make your job listings stand out. After all, these professionals have years of experience reviewing and communicating job descriptions to the market in order to help law firms attract top talent.

The Mistakes to Avoid in Your Job Descriptions

Writing the most compelling job descriptions can be a complex process, particularly in today’s competitive hiring landscape. It’s easy to stumble into several potential mistakes, which could mean you miss out on the most valuable legal talent for your team.

Aside from following the steps above to make your descriptions more compelling, it’s also worth ensuring you don’t fall victim to any of the following common errors:

1.  Using the Wrong Job Title

As law firms continue to rely on “marketing” strategies to attract new legal talent to their team, recent trends have emerged among organisations trying to make their descriptions more compelling. For instance, some companies try to showcase their unique personality and culture by switching out job titles with more inventive but unusual ones. You may have already seen listings for various legal “superstars” or “rockstars”.

While weird and unusual job titles can be fun, they’re also highly confusing. Most people in today’s digital landscape are actively looking for job descriptions which include specific keywords. And in a sector as traditional as the legal industry, this can make your efforts counterproductive as using unusual job titles prevents candidates from finding your posts. Additionally, complex job titles can make it harder for employees to determine whether they’re applying for the right roles. It’s worth sticking with titles you know your current legal employees are familiar with.

2.  Using Hyperbolic Language

In an age where legal candidates are looking for more genuine, honest, and empathetic employers, they’re increasingly less likely to apply for roles where law firms use a lot of superlative and hyperbolic language. Telling your candidates that working with you gives them a chance to be part of the “best law firm in the world” won’t increase your chances of attracting talent.

Instead, focus on the clear, authentic benefits you can offer. Don’t just tell your candidates your firm is the best in the world. Highlight what makes your job offer special. Can you provide flexible working schedules, consistent education and training, and access to unique benefits no other law firm can offer?

3.  Failing to Include Relevant Information

While legal candidates in today’s fast-paced environment have less time to browse through job listings, this doesn’t mean you can “skip” parts of the job description. Failing to include important information means you’re less likely to attract candidates because they won’t know what to expect from your role.

Make sure you highlight all of the position’s key responsibilities, the benefits on offer, and any other information that might be necessary for legal candidates. Include details where relevant too. For instance, what makes it flexible if you’re listing a “flexible” role? Can team members work from home whenever they like, or will they be able to change their schedule easily?

4.  Alienating Crucial Talent

In a competitive legal market, you cannot afford to accidentally alienate qualified people from your role. With this in mind, it’s worth double-checking that you’re not driving possible candidates away. For instance, it might be a good idea to remove any requests for a specific number of years of experience from your job descriptions.

Experience is great, but it’s not the only factor determining whether potential employees will thrive in your role. Adding requests to your job descriptions for an employee with five years of experience in a specific practice area can prevent qualified candidates from applying.

A candidate with an excellent growth mindset and two years of experience may be better for your law firm than someone with ten years of experience and a laid-back attitude. Focus on the skills you need your employees to have and the results you want them to achieve instead.

5.  Failing to Get the Right Help

As the legal market continues to suffer from significant changes, it’s harder than ever for law firms to find the talent they need without a little extra help. Ultimately, going it alone isn’t an option if you want to attract the right talent as quickly as possible. No matter how big or small, every company should consider working with an expert.

Working alongside legal recruitment specialists will help you to enhance your job descriptions, build your talent pipeline, and increase your access to talent. Not only can their team of consultants give you tips on improving your job listings based on their extensive experience, but they can also ensure your listings reach the right people by promoting them on the correct channels.

Final thoughts

Designing the ideal job descriptions is one of the most important things you can do as an employer trying to attract the very best legal talent. In such a competitive market, it’s crucial to ensure your job descriptions not only show your would-be employees what they can expect from your role but also give them insight into culture and benefits.

If you struggle to update and enhance ineffective job descriptions, contact your legal recruitment agency for help. They’ll be able to provide behind-the-scenes insights based on years of experience working with similar firms – and will also help to further market your role and your firm when liaising with potential candidates.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

 

Click here to speak to one of our experienced Legal specialists or call 01772 259121 for more information on how our exceptional recruitment experience can help your career aspirations.

 

 

 

Share This Post

banner image

Hiring Fast Versus Slow: The Facts Law Firms Need to Know

  • March 4, 2023

The average time it takes to hire a legal candidate is increasing.

According to a recent post from LinkedIn, it can take more than forty days for a hiring manager to find and make an offer to the right employee. While part of this problem may be attributed to skill shortages in the legal sector, there’s a larger underlying issue.

Law firms are taking too long to make decisions.

While it’s important to be cautious when choosing the right employee to bring onto your team, a slow hiring process can have a number of negative repercussions. As competition for legal talent in the legal industry grows, taking too long to select a candidate could/will mean you miss out.

At the same time, there’s a risk you could end up impacting your employer brand, prompting future candidates to avoid applying for your roles.

Remember candidates talk to each other and especially online.

So let’s talk about why hiring faster is a good idea.

Hiring Fast vs Hiring Slow: Why Speed Wins

The best legal candidates are always highly coveted and receive multiple offers from a variety of different employers. If you’re not fast to act, the chances of losing your ideal employee are higher than ever.

As a legal recruiter, we can only do so much to persuade candidates to wait.

Recruiting faster doesn’t mean abandoning your standards when choosing the correct candidate. Instead, it means reworking your process so you can make intelligent decisions quickly.

Here are some of the reasons why law firms need to increase the speed of their hiring strategy if they want to remain competitive.

1. Increases Your Chances of Securing the Right Legal Talent

The hiring marketplace has changed drastically in the last three years. Today’s legal employees don’t have time to wait around for an employer to offer them a role. More importantly, they usually don’t have to. Even if you don’t offer a role to a candidate straight away, there’s a good chance another firm will.

Making slow decisions about who to bring onto your team doesn’t necessarily improve your chances of getting a high-quality candidate. While you’re busy consulting with your recruitment team about whom to hire, your ideal candidate is already looking for alternative roles.

The longer you take to decide, the more chance you have of someone else swooping in and recruiting your top choice. This could mean you need to settle for a less-than-ideal alternative, just so you can fill the gap in your legal team.

2. Better Existing Employee Experiences

A slow hiring process isn’t just a problem for future employees, it can cause issues with your current workforce too. When positions go unfilled for too long in a firm, many leaders need to distribute the tasks associated with those roles to other team members, to fill the gaps.

This means staff ends up focusing more of their time on projects and initiatives not included within their general job description. This can increase your risk of burnout and overwhelm, and even encourage employees to start searching for new roles too.

Placing more strain on your existing team also means they’re more likely to be prone to making mistakes in their day-to-day work. Overwhelmed staff need to rush through tasks, rather than giving each job their direct focus.

3. Enhanced Candidate Experiences

Legal professionals are no longer just searching for great salary options and benefits when it comes to their job search. Amongst other things (and there is quite a list these days) they’re also looking for evidence their employer will treat them with empathy and respect. This means the candidate experience has become more important than ever to firms in search of new legal talent. Fail to deliver a good experience, and you’ll miss out on future opportunities.

A speedy hiring process delivers a better all-around experience for your candidates, showing them, you respect their needs.

The faster you provide your candidates with an offer, the more likely they are to feel committed to your brand and their role within your firm. The longer your hiring process takes, the more your new team members are likely to lose their enthusiasm about their new role.

Ethical recruitment (something we’ve looked at recently) means in simple terms, doing the right thing – always. This should be the very foundation and principles on which your hiring activity is built.

4. Improved Employer Brand and EVP

Ensuring you can attract and retain the best quality legal talent in the current market requires significant effort. You need to ensure you’re promoting an employer brand that convinces legal candidates you have the right opportunities to offer.

Your employer brand is influenced by everything you do when interacting with both your existing employees and future staff. This means if your candidate experience is poor, due to a long recruitment time and lack of communication, you could risk scaring off new employees. In fact, around 43% of job-seekers say they might even write a negative review about an employer when the hiring process takes too long.

Committing to quickly providing your candidates with insights into the success of their interview, and making decisions fast about who to hire will ensure you stand out in the legal sector.

Speed Up Your Hiring Process

The best candidates in the current legal landscape won’t wait around for a long hiring process. And it goes without saying that the more in demand they are, the more options will be open to them when it comes to choosing where to make that next move.

If you can’t act quickly to secure the best for your firm, simply put – you’ll miss out.

Recruiting faster doesn’t have to mean lowering your standards, but it could mean looking for ways to optimise your hiring process.

And, whilst time may be of the essence, it’s equally as important not to make any rash decisions or rush into a decision that could ultimately come back to bite you. After all, there is a significant commercial cost of a bad hire too.

Working with a legal recruitment agency can help to focus your activity – helping to source, and shortlist candidates faster, so you can get the right talent quickly  – whilst also ensuring that no balls get dropped along the way in ensuring that the candidates that are presented to you are still the right ‘fit’ for your firm.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviablese reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals, and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help.

Call us on 01772 259 121 or get in touch with us here

Share This Post

banner image

Are You Sitting Comfortably? Why Its Time To Evaluate Your Office Ergonomics

  • February 28, 2023

It’s no secret that modern-day life has us spending a large chunk of our waking hours seated at a desk. In fact, a staggering 90,000 hours of our lifetime is spent at work – using a computer or working with other office equipment. But, did you know that our work environment can greatly impact our physical and mental well-being?

With most office jobs requiring prolonged periods of computer and equipment use, it’s no wonder that work-related injuries, especially repetitive strain injuries, are a leading cause of medical leave. That is why the need for an ergonomically correct office is important. Ergonomics is a modern word coined from two Greek words – Ergon, meaning work, and nomoi, meaning natural laws. The goal of office ergonomics is to design your office workstation in such a way that it fits you and allows for a comfortable working environment for maximum productivity and efficiency. In fact, according to the Thesaurus dictionary, office ergonomics is synonymous with workplace efficiency and user-friendly systems. A workspace designed with ergonomics in mind can significantly reduce the risk of physical pain and discomfort, such as back strains and repetitive strain injuries. Not to mention, it can also alleviate common issues like eye strain and headaches caused by improper lighting and screen placement.

But, it’s not just about physical comfort. An ergonomic work environment can greatly improve an employee’s mental well-being. By reducing stress and promoting concentration, employees can flourish in a workspace that supports their work. This leads to greater job satisfaction, a reduction in anxiety, and a more positive state of mind. When employees feel their physical needs are met, they are more likely to feel valued by their employer, leading to a stronger emotional connection to the firm and a greater sense of commitment.

Employers can also demonstrate their commitment to their employee’s health and well-being by providing ergonomic equipment and promoting healthy work practices. Some employers even go ahead to conduct their own DSE Risk Assessments. A DSE Risk Assessment includes a checklist of all aspects of the office station. This can create a positive and supportive workplace culture, resulting in a more motivated and engaged workforce, and reduced turnover, and absenteeism.

So, how do you create a more ergonomic work environment in your firm?

You may want to start by doing the following:

Proper chair selection: Ensure that chairs have adjustable features such as height, tilt, and armrests to allow employees to find a comfortable position. An ergonomic chair provides support for your lower back, hips, and legs. It should be adjustable to fit your body and provide proper posture when sitting.

Desk height: There is also the option of a treadmill/walking desk as a 2023 article from Irish Examiner has stated that sitting for eight or more hours per day can be linked to a 20% higher risk of getting heart disease or dying from any cause, compared to those who sat for half that time.

Keyboard and mouse: Ensure that keyboards and mouse are positioned at a comfortable distance and height, and that wrist pads are provided to reduce pressure on the wrist. Your keyboard and mouse should be positioned directly in front of you and close to your body, to minimize awkward reaching and twisting. Additionally, a wrist rest can help reduce the strain on your wrists and forearms.

Monitor placement: Make sure that monitors are placed at eye level to reduce neck strain and are positioned at a comfortable distance from the user. Your monitor should be positioned directly in front of you, at a comfortable distance and height. The top of the screen should be at or slightly below eye level, and the screen should be large enough to allow you to read the text without straining your eyes.

Lighting: Adequate lighting is important for reducing eye strain and creating a comfortable work environment. Place your desk near a window or invest in a task light if needed.

Exercise and screen breaks:

If you have employees or you yourself work from home – even on a hybrid basis, you can also benefit from an ergonomically compliant space and there are a wealth of resources online that provide further tips and guidelines for the home office. This could mean creating a designated workspace, taking regular breaks, and establishing a fixed work schedule.

Ultimately, incorporating ergonomic principles in the workspace can bring immense benefits to both employees and your firm. By creating a workspace that prioritizes comfort and safety, employees are more likely to experience reduced stress levels, improved posture, and a decrease in workplace injuries.

As discussed in our recent blog, this investment in their well-being will speak volumes about the company’s commitment to their employees and contribute to a stronger employer value proposition (EVP), which encompasses all elements of the employment experience, including the physical work environment.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals, and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help.

Call us on 01772 259 121 or get in touch with us here .

Share This Post

banner image

Retained Recruitment Services – A Viable Option for Your Law Firm?

  • February 23, 2023

If you are responsible for hiring within your law firm – either wholly, or as part of your role as a practicing lawyer, one of the choices you have as part of your hiring strategy is whether you go it alone, or enlist the services of a recruitment specialist.

This decision may be based on a number of variables including £budget, speed (the need to get the position filled quickly), and the potential scarcity in the market of the hire(s) in question.

External factors may also impact the decision. The current market, still impacted by headwinds from the pandemic, is undeniably tough as we enter a new year against a backdrop of economic uncertainty and a much-publicised skills shortage. Attracting (and then retaining) talent can be arduous at the best of times, but balancing squeezed budgets, keeping existing staff engaged, and still focusing on growth and expansion is certainly a big ask for law firms who also have the ‘day job’ to do.

Why Choose a Recruitment Partner?

Utilising a sector-specialist recruitment agency will undoubtedly give firms a head start with their hiring campaigns – not only providing general market insight and that helicopter view of the hiring landscape, but also the inside track on movement and access to talent pools of active and passive legal professionals.

Consultants at recruitment firms are just that… able to provide consultative, practical advice on things like the fillability of roles, salary benchmarking, and insight into requirements and drivers of job seekers in the current climate.

They are also best placed to really ‘sell’ your firm and elevate your roles through strategic marketing, advertising, and tapping into the passive talent within their own networks.

In short, it makes absolute commercial sense to bring in the experts when the hiring landscape remains complex, and the candidate, at least for now, is King.

Then again, we would say that…

And once you have decided to partner with a recruitment specialist, the selection process and identifying the right one also needs some careful consideration.

Can’t See the Wood For the Trees?

Choosing the right legal recruitment partner can be a daunting task, especially when there are so many options available. The key to selecting the right partner is to carefully evaluate all of the factors that they bring to the table. A legal recruitment expert has the potential to save firms time, money, and headaches in the search for legal talent. However, the success of your new strategy will depend on your ability to choose the most suitable company for your firm.

You may look at things such as their own longevity (and success) in the market, their brand presence and digital footprint, and whether they are a specialist (and knowledgeable) about your practice area(s) or region in which you operate.

You may also look at the specifics of the services on offer – although this may not always be apparent from a quick glance at the website.

But understanding the recruitment model and service(s) adopted and on offer by the firm is imperative in the decision-making process. Therefore your assessment and due diligence period should always take heed of the specific framework or model that agency subscribes to.

This Way, Or That?

Whilst there are sometimes grey areas and nuances, generally speaking, most recruitment firms will offer either one or two services to their client base.

And, whilst on the face of it, the differences are largely focused on the payment structure and agreement between recruiter and client, the underlying recruitment approach is usually very different.

Contingency

Contingency recruitment in simple terms works on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis, whereby the client only pays a fee for the successful placement of a candidate – usually when that individual starts in their new role.

This tends to be the prevailing model of recruitment in most industries and is often used for entry-level or mid-level positions where the recruiter is likely to have a larger pool of candidates to choose from, and where there is general availability of the required skills in the marketplace.

A standard service offered by recruitment agencies, it gives firms access to the agency’s own extensive network of pre-screened candidates; saving time and allowing a shortlist to be drawn up together, quickly, in line with your instructions.

Retained

Retained recruitment refers to the type of recruitment in which the agency is paid a partial fee from the client before the process begins, with the remainder paid upon the successful placement of a candidate into that role.

Typically suitable for executive-level hires, or where there is a scarcity of candidates on the active market, this model often means the agency will enter an exclusive partnership with the client who will help to map the market and help to set goals and milestones on how the search will be conducted.

Retained – More Than Just The Upfront Fee?

Whilst on the face of it, retained recruitment services seem more expensive as there is an upfront fee to pay, regardless of the outcome – there is often much more to this methodology than just the payment structure and T&Cs.

This model is often more rigorous in nature and may include additional features such as:

  • Bespoke market mapping
  • Salary benchmarking intel
  • Psychometric testing
  • Video interviews and candidate profiling
  • Dedicated Account Manager or team of specialist consultants<
  • Regular face-to-face updates and reporting/analysis
  • Strategic headhunting
  • Integrated marketing campaigns including advertising

This is more often than not, a fully-tailored recruitment solution where the agency and consultants will work closely with the hiring team – covering all areas of the active and passive market in a wider, more detailed search.

Is Retained Right For Me?

There are pros and cons of going down the contingency or retained route – and ultimately, it will once again come down to:

  • Scarcity of candidates in the market for the role in question
  • The need to recruit quickly (and impact on the bottom line of that role not being filled)
  • The need to access resources you don’t have yourself
  • Budget
  • Complexity of the hiring project (volume, seniority, location, relocation, etc)

Retained recruitment can offer certain benefits over contingency including:

  • Access to a wider pool of talent – tapping into passive networks who may not be actively looking for a role (and therefore arguably not being targeted by other law firms also hiring in the same practice area or region)
  • Time-saving – the agency takes care of the entire recruitment process, including sourcing, screening, interviewing, and providing detailed shortlists for the client. For time-short individuals in the legal sector – this is often a driving force to outsource in the first place.
  • Cost effective – whilst retained recruitment may involve an upfront fee, it is often seen as more cost-effective in the long run because the agency in question has the expertise and resources to identify the best candidates that are the right ‘fit’ first time for the client. This reduces the risk of a bad hire(and the financial implications that come with that).
  • Increased retention rates – identification, and then a successful placement, of a ‘right fit’ candidate that aligns with the law firm’s culture and values on a deeper level than qualifications and experience, ultimately impacts retention rates and reduced turnover.
  • Professional expertise – a good recruitment specialist, especially those with longevity (and a good reputation) in the market can provide guidance on a consultative basis on recruitment strategies, market trends, and best practice – helping the firm make informed decisions, and moving the whole process on from a simple transactional service

In Conclusion

Retained recruitment and contingency recruitment are two different approaches to hiring – but both may be considered as viable solutions based on your hiring strategy, budget, timescales, and the type of role(s) in question.

Whichever route you choose (which may be a hybrid of the two if the agency offers both services), working with a recruitment specialist that shares your values can help to elevate your business, brand, and roles.

The recruitment process for many businesses can be overwhelming, time-consuming, and costly. Add in the tail end of a pandemic, economic uncertainty, and political instability, and the process soon becomes a minefield.

Yet the objectives remain the same for those responsible for hiring within their law firm – retain, engage, and motivate their existing people, and attract top talent in line with growth and business objectives.

Selecting a recruitment partner that addresses those goals and is mindful of things like ethical recruitment practices – abiding by the highest standards of professionalism, fairness, and transparency, is essential.

And as long as those boxes are ticked…arguably you’re already on the road to success, whichever route you then go on to choose.

Our Services

At Clayton Legal, we offer a number of different services to suit the various (and changing) requirements of our diverse client base.

The services we offer very much start with the specific requirements, hiring strategy, business objectives, and budget, and include a standard contingency service as well as a retained and RPO service offering.

We work at all times with our client’s objectives in mind – to deliver the people they need, swiftly, that are the right fit, first time.

Click here for more information on our range of services, and information on how to get in touch if you would like a more informed discussion about how we can help with your current recruitment project.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals, and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help – whether that’s on a contingency or retained basis.

Call us on 01772 259 121 or get in touch with us here .

Share This Post

banner image

The Future Of Work Is… Flexibility

  • February 19, 2023

The world of work is still undergoing seismic changes – in part due to the long-tail impact of the 2020/21 pandemic, as well as in response to more recent influences like the economic crisis in the UK and overseas. Legacy business practices have been put to the test, and whilst digital transformation has continued to accelerate at breakneck speed, some businesses are only now stopping to catch their breath and take stock.

One topic that continues to make headlines globally however is around ‘flexibility’ – still the most requested ‘benefit’ by job seekers who are rejecting a return to a hustle culture and supposed burnout.

The latest Work Trend Index Report by Microsoft, published late last year spotlights the topic, and claims that even though we are now many months into hybrid work, not everyone agrees on how it’s going. And whilst employees are (on the whole) embracing greater flexibility and the benefits that come with that, business leaders are having to find the balance between remaining competitive as an employer, with rising inflation, budgetary constraints, and a dispersed workforce.

Will we see a mass return to the office?

A recent survey by Slack stated that only 12% of people would actively choose to return to an office setting on a full-time basis. Yet, 50% of leaders are ‘demanding’ employees return to the fold – an approach that experts are saying could have serious ramifications for businesses that don’t offer some level of flexibility; instead impacting retention and creating flight risks that companies can ill-afford in the current market.

Nevertheless, global giants at Disney, Tesla, and Goldman Sachs have hit the headlines for vocally turning their back on remote or even hybrid working arrangements – instead insisting employees benefit from face-to-face contact with their peers, especially when it comes to collaboration and creativity.

This post-pandemic push to get people back into the office has also been adopted by other global businesses including Starbucks, Twitter, and KMPG. Yet, the supposed advantages of hybrid working arrangements continue to be analysed and pored over, with indications that this working arrangement can positively impact work-life balance, and productivity, mitigate burnout, and improve personal well-being.

For the time being it seems, there is an increasing mismatch between what employees want, and what employers are prepared to offer.

Is hybrid here to stay?

There is no doubt that the increase in remote, hybrid, and flexible working patterns has necessitated a shift in how companies operate. From having to invest in technology to support a separated workforce to contemplating (and analysing) the subsequent impact on things like collaboration, productivity, staff engagement, and culture. The road, whilst already well-trodden, is still relatively unknown as many still consider the permanency of such working arrangements.

Paul Lewis (CEO of job advertising company, Adzuna) states in a recent article in Forbes, that employers are becoming more polarised in their approach to flexible working. And whilst there is certainly one camp that has reversed any such arrangement at full throttle, others continue to see the benefit of offering flexibility (be that remote or hybrid) as a tactic to attract new (and much-needed) talent.

The hybrid dichotomy

There are evidently both challenges and opportunities of hybrid working that professional services continue to pore over as we enter a new year, not least against a backdrop of talent and skill shortages impacting general recruitment and retention of staff.

According to research by global analytic consultants, Gallup, benefits include more autonomy, less burnout, higher productivity, and a perceived improvement in work-life balance. Yet, the research also highlighted that employees noted hybrid arrangements led to decreased collaboration, access to resources, disruption to processes, and less connection to the business ‘culture’.

It is certainly an ongoing challenge for businesses to balance employee interests against general business performance – remembering as always, the needs of the end customer and if those continue to be met as the workplace continues to evolve.

The most recent Work Trend Index Report by Microsoft highlights research where over 20,000 people in 11 countries were interviewed and analysed alongside labour market trends. The key findings (presented last September), and subsequent recommendations to business leaders were:

‘End productivity paranoia’

  • Whilst managers may be worried about the general productivity of employees, not in the office, 87% reported that they are more productive. This is then backed up with Microsoft 365 data and productivity signals including meeting invites, multi-tasking (sending emails in meetings), and tracked activity.
  • Yet, as some businesses install tracking technology to measure productivity signals themselves, many employees are left feeling like they aren’t being trusted. This can, according to the report, then lead to digital overwhelm where employees feel the need to ‘prove’ they are working…possibly out of normal work hours.

‘Embrace the fact that people come in for other people’

  • Research at this juncture indicates that the desire to return to the office environment, even on a hybrid basis, is down to people missing the social interaction and connection with their peers. Therefore ‘rebuilding social capital can be a powerful lever for bringing people back to the office’.
  • Digital communication tools are as important as ever to allow employees to connect with each other and with the business leaders.

‘Re-recruit your employees’

  • Despite the choppy waters of the economic and political landscape that arguably make job seekers more cautious, employers should still be mindful of staff retention…even if they aren’t actively recruiting or on a growth trajectory themselves.
  • There should therefore be a focus on re-energising and re-engaging existing staff members who according to the research are still ‘turning to job-hopping, the creator economy, side hustles, and entrepreneurship to achieve their career goals’.
  • This includes providing genuine growth and career progression opportunities, training, and development support

Let’s Talk About Flex

In our blog 12 months ago, we looked at definitions of the various flexible working models at the time – centred around what was coined ‘home, hybrid, or hub (office)’. And, whilst these are still as relevant today, the models themselves continue to evolve and adapt – both to the needs and desires of employers and employees and also in relation to external factors and the socio-economic landscape.

Other nuances include:

Flexi

  • the employee has the freedom to pick exactly where and when they work….not limited necessarily to the home or the office

Office-First

  • employee spends the majority of time in the office, and less remotely

Remote-First

  • employee spends the majority of time working remotely, and less in the office

Fixed

  • the employee has a set working pattern for days in the office and days at home/remotely

Compressed

  • depending on the needs of the business this may include full-time hours worked across a shorter amount of days e.g nine longer days instead of ten – giving employees flexibility without losing capacity

Annualised Hours

  • the employee has to work an agreed amount of time over the year, but (aside from core hours) has flexibility around when they work based on extra demand

Four-Day Forecast

As well as the ongoing rumblings around flexi-, hybrid-, agile-, and remote-working, there is also a renewed focus on the ‘4-day week’ – not least because of the pilot programme that launched in the UK last year, which has just published its initial results (based on data from US, Australian, and Irish businesses in the first phase of the trial).

The programme, the brainchild of the not-for-profit ‘4 Day Week Global’ founded by Andrew Barnes and Charlotte Lockhart, advocates investment in the transition to reducing working hours; a ‘business improvement strategy centred on working smarter rather than longer’, and investing in the wellbeing of a business’s employees. Notably, the trial is based on a so-called ‘100-80-100 model’ = ‘100% of the pay, 80% of the time, but critically in exchange for 100% of the productivity’.

The notion of a shorter week had already been gaining traction in recent years, and as the pandemic forced through many changes in the workplace, a more formal approach was taken in 2022 with the world’s first coordinated trial and large-scale independent research into the impacts of a 4 day week.

The results, published last November, hail the pilot a resounding success on nearly all fronts with participating businesses reporting increased revenue, reduced absenteeism and resignations as well as a general increase in staff engagement and satisfaction in their roles. None of the businesses who took part in the trial will return to a 5-day week.

With pilots now taking place across the globe including the UK, South Africa, and Canada, it certainly seems many businesses are at least open to the idea of a seismic shift to the working week as we know it – but only, of course, if the numbers stack up.

In Conclusion

The pandemic of 2020/21 certainly accelerated substantial changes to working patterns and behaviours – shaking up when, where, and how individuals operated. It seems that in this sense, we are still in somewhat of a state of flux as businesses contend with economic instability, rising costs, declining staff retention, and a skills shortage impacting recruitment.

Yet the cards, arguably, are still being held by employees who remain resolute that flexibility (in whatever form) is a leading factor in decisions around if they stay, or if they go (and indeed, where they go next).

It is certainly true that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for employers as they continue to navigate these choppy waters, yet the narrative (at the moment at least) certainly predicts that flexibility isn’t a fad…rather, it’s the future.

 

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

 

Share This Post