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Under Pressure

How does your firm manage workplace stress?

Quality of life for attorneys has been getting a lot of coverage recently. This topic is obviously important, and firms that gain the reputation of managing their attorneys’ work-life balance stand a better chance of retaining those employees long term.

The biggest national firms worry about losing talent to the midsize firms, where lawyers are perceived to be happier, and have better quality of life. In fact, a recent survey conducted by Law360 found that lawyers at midsize firms have higher job satisfaction and better overall well-being. According to the 2018 Satisfaction Survey, those attorneys are “least likely to look for another job, most satisfied with their opportunities for advancement, and least likely to say they feel stressed all of the time.”

But of course, the truth about workplace satisfaction is more complicated than it seems. Smaller firms don’t always have a healthier work-life culture, and large firms aren’t always as cutthroat as they’re made out to be. And, according to the survey, where you practice doesn’t necessarily lower stress levels, either. In fact, over 60 percent of private practice attorneys say they feel stressed either most or all of the time, as do 44 percent of in-house counsel and 38 percent of government lawyers. The grass is not always greener. 

So, rather than focus on whether your firm is a winner or loser on this trend, find a way—no matter your firm’s size or the sector you serve—to distinguish yourself from your competitors by promoting the things you are doing to manage and improve workplace culture.

And now that media coverage of work-life balance is gaining steam, firms of all sizes can capitalize on the attention. But in order to accomplish that, you must be able to articulate to the outside world what your firm is doing to improve work-life balance.

This is easier said than done. The thought of first gauging exactly what initiatives your firm is implementing, and then promoting those initiatives, is daunting. But if you take a step back and plot out what it would look like to promote what you’re doing right, getting the word out is possible. Try the following strategies:

1. Establish your partners’ thought leadership on work-life balance. If you want clients and recruits to associate your firm with a progressive approach to quality of life, they need to see your partners and firm leadership quoted in the legal media on this issue. Who in your firm can bring new insight to questions of workplace stress, flexible scheduling, parental leave, and related struggles? And look beyond the same old takes—men, more than ever, need to be speaking out on these issues too. Your PR plan should include seeking opportunities for these representatives to be quoted.

2. Get news coverage for an initiative at your firm. Has your firm implemented a cutting-edge parental leave initiative? Or a creative way to encourage paid time off and employee wellness programs? If so, get it out there. Let the public—and potential future employees—know that your firm takes quality of life issues seriously. Tell your story. It will bring positive attention, and pay dividends.   

For more information on how to get your firm’s positive work-life balance stories out there, contact Page 2 Communications today.