The Great Resignation: Are You Prepared?
- January 12, 2022
In the last couple of years, all segments of the job market have experienced significant changes.
The first stages of the pandemic, in many sectors, resulted in a hold on recruitment. On the other side candidates decided to stay put with their current employer as economic uncertainty took its toll across the UK.
Cycle forward to today and we are looking at a different scenario.
The back pressure of employees who would normally move and the experience of more flexible working options being possible, has resulted in more employees considering a move as confirmed by a number of recent research reports by both Microsoft and Randstad.
A concern for all legal employers; First let us look at the data in more detail.
The Microsoft Work Trend Index report based on over 30,00 responses from Microsoft partners and employees revealed that 46% of respondents plan to move because they can now work remotely.
Confirmation of this move of human capital came from research revealed on a recent Randstad UK, presentation where Christine Armstrong a management consultant and bestselling author shared that 69% of employees felt confident about finding and moving to a new role within a few months.
This was based on data from a poll of over 6000 adults in the UK. The survey found that those in construction, manufacturing, tech, and logistics were among the most confident in the country where 74 % said they felt confident about moving to a new job now.
HR, legal, and accountancy professionals were among the least confident in the country although call centre workers were the least confident at 59%.
The disparity between groups is not huge and it still demonstrates that many people in our workforce are confident about moving to a new job.
Vacancies created by the pandemic, combined with new flexible working options, has created considerable new opportunities for legal professionals. Consequently, Law firms will begin to feel the pressure of the “Great Resignation” in the coming months
Let us explore a few definitions here.
What is the “Great Resignation”
The “Great Resignation” is the term used to refer to the increase in the number of people leaving their existing roles after the COVID pandemic.
Factors like excessive burnout during the pandemic, unhappiness with work/life balance, and the rise of new opportunities in most sectors have pushed many employees to reconsider what they now want from their careers.
The number of open jobs in the UK surpassed 1 million for the first time ever in August of 2021, and all industries face a threat. Many job seekers, according to Randstad, are not concerned about the task of actually finding a new role either as they see the number of roles available for skilled employees on multiple job boards and recruitment company websites.
Data provided by the ONS government website shares that around 9% of people changed jobs each year between 2000 and 2018; this ranged from a post-recession low of 5.7% in 2010 to a high of approximately 10.9% in 2017 and 2018.
Logically, you would expect a stall on staff movement in the preliminary stages of Covid, which is what happened; therefore, you would expect a natural upturn in people moving.
But is a mass exit predicted in the headlines simply speculation at this stage? Whilst it is arguably still too early to tell, especially with the latest developments in the ongoing pandemic, figures from ONS’s recent Labour Force Survey (LFS) shows resignations and job-to-job moves are already at their highest in 20 years based on data from quarter 3, 2021. What remains to be seen is the further impact the end of furlough had on the data moving into this final quarter although it is fair to say that the stats so far, alongside the rapid change in employment opportunities for today’s professionals, mean there is enough information available to prompt employers to sit up and take notice.
While not every law firm will necessarily see a mass exodus of staff, all firms will need to be prepared for managing a change in working preferences and expectations.
What Can Employers Do?
Even if the great resignation is not having an immediate impact on your firm, legal companies need to be prepared. The problems causing mass resignation in various industries are as significant for law firms as any other sector. Firms will begin to see their talented staff looking for more flexibility, support, and recognition from new employers.
The most valuable thing legal firms can do to stay ahead of the current market is to build their employer brand so that their communication out into the market highlights their culture as a caring and compassionate firm with a commitment to developing their people at their core.
In line with building a compelling brand firms need to be future focussed as they plan for the growth of their team. Though gaps and resignation can occur without warning developing an organisational talent plan can minimise these events. If you require help in developing your talent plan do get in touch as we are working with a number of firms currently on their talent plan.
Alongside working with the right legal recruitment team, law firms will also need to consider other strategies for retaining and attracting talent, such as:
- Extending remote work options For many employees in the legal field, the last couple of years has been clear proof the physical workplace is not a necessary ingredient of productivity. Surveys have found 39% of people would consider quitting their role if their employer wasn’t flexible with remote working. Now could be the right time for your firm to consider remote and hybrid working opportunities and how they might work for your team.
- Provide the right training Employers and managers need to feel empowered to work well in the existing remote landscape. Managers will need the training to ensure they are still engaging legal teams wherever they might be. Legal professionals may need assistance to use the tools crucial to their remote work practices as effectively as possible. Ongoing training and development will make your team feel like you are investing in them and their future, improving retention.
- Improve Workplace Wellbeing Today’s team members are less willing to remain with employers who they feel are not putting their best interests at heart. Today’s staff members are feeling increasingly overwhelmed and burned out in their legal careers. If your legal team feel overwhelmed by work and you are not giving them enough support, they are more likely to look elsewhere. Investing in tools to improve your employee’s well-being and taking their unique needs into account will be essential.
What’s Next for Law Firms?
Handling the potential threat of a “great resignation” in the legal industry can be a daunting prospect. Legal professionals can take a lot longer to source, recruit, and onboard than any average staff member, presenting significant problems.
The best way to deal with the great resignation is to get ahead of it as quickly as possible. Assess the sentiment of your legal team towards your culture and determine what kind of things might cause them to seek alternative employment, such as lack of flexible working opportunities or limited recognition from business leaders.
Conducting a series of “stay” interviews rather than waiting for exit interviews should allow you to understand better what is keeping your professionals around.
About Clayton Legal
Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country
since 1999 and has built up an enviable reputation for trust and
reliability during that time. We have made over 5,000 placements from
Partners to Legal Executives, Solicitors to Paralegals and Legal I.T.
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.