I recently moderated a panel for the Philadelphia Chapter of Association of Legal Administrators on how employers can measure, meet and succeed when it comes to employee engagement. The panel was engaging (pun intended) and full of information on why, as employers, we can’t seem to stop talking about employee satisfaction and engagement. These conversations are only going to continue as study after study shows that employee engagement is directly correlated not only to job satisfaction but also to employee turnover. While there are many industries that have taken and ran with employee engagement initiatives, it appears (as it is in other areas too like diversity and inclusion) the legal industry still lags behind. It appears that there remains a disconnect between what an employee wants and needs from their employer and what the employer is actually willing to give the employee in return. I followed up recently with Natalie Loeb, founder and lead consultant of Loeb Leadership Development Group, and who previously defined employee engagement in my recent article on the value of workplace wellness programs. Loeb said that when beginning employee engagement programs with her law firm clients, she always begins by stating, “If a firm chooses not to focus on building a culture, it will build one on its own. And is that the culture the firm aspires to?” Building a culture has everything to do with engaging employees and therefore, as Loeb always asks, are you prepared for your (in)actions to communicate the message that is received by employees on the value you see them bringing to the table? Below you will find (easy to follow) information on ways that you can measure, meet and succeed at the engagement of your employees.
However, before you go ahead and start trying a variety of new ways to promote (or improve) employee engagement, it would make sense to first understand what your baseline statistics are within your firm. Understanding the range and level of existing employee engagement is critical. Law firms employ a wide range of employees who perform a variety of tasks that range from entry level positions to employees who perform highly complex and sophisticated tasks for the firm and its clients. Given employee diversity in experience and responsibility, an internal survey is a great way to start. Mary Robinson, director of human resources at Duane Morris, says the first step to improving something is to measure it. She stated that her firm “believes that by administering an annual administrative satisfaction survey that measures results against previous years, as well as taking ‘actionable insights,’ firm management is able to show partners and employees that the firm genuinely cares about them. When people know you care, they respond with an increased loyalty and commitment to the organization.” Robinson went on to talk about specific examples from her firm’s recent survey: “For example we asked, based on a one to five scale, that partners and employees rate statements for human resources staff administration such as ‘overall administrative support for staff personnel in the areas of compensation, performance evaluation, personnel counseling, job posting, new hire orientation and special projects.’” Duane Morris has seen incremental increases in its scores since the firm started measuring in 2005. Robinson stated they receive a great deal of positive feedback but the “areas for improvement” is the most interesting input because it allows the firm to make adjustments to policies and procedures where feasible. This year her department had an overall score of 4.37 but they always “strive for five.”
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