Staff turnover is an unavoidable, natural part of the hiring and employment cycle. Economic turmoil, industry fluctuations and attrition can cause unexpected spikes in turnover, but if your firm has regularly lost talent across a number of practice areas and positions in recent years, that’s an indication that there may be more serious issues. Warning signs can include a mass exodus of associates and support staff, clerical positions that are continually open, or a particular partner who can’t seem to retain talent. Law firms with high turnover can suffer significant data, knowledge and client loss, not to mention the cost of salaries, benefits, and time invested. When a lawyer leaves, a significant investment is lost. Aside from salaries and bonuses, law firms can spend thousands of dollars recruiting and training, sometimes paying for bar exam prep courses, moving expenses, and CLE. Here are some of the major factors that can contribute to a high turnover, and how a temporary hire might be the right solution:
Poor selection process– When staff turnover at the firm seems unusually high, one of the first things to investigate is the firm’s selection process. If a firm continually hires extremely over or under qualified applicants, it will simply be a matter of time before workers become frustrated or disillusioned and look for something better matched to their skill set. Take a realistic look at the firm’s expectations: Is management seeking out Ivy League or top tier attorneys to handle work that could be done by a paralegal? Does the firm really require someone with more than 5 years of experience, or is in-house training possible? If it is evident that the organization is always hiring the wrong people, a temporary firm can help define what the job description should be and assist in finding a prospect that is the right fit for the position and for the firm.
Firm Culture– Many older workers may be satisfied to put in the required hours, work hard, and collect a paycheck regardless of firm culture. However, millennials tend to place a much higher importance on the firm’s core values as well as their employment experience. If the firm seems to have difficulty retaining younger talent, it may have something to do with the lack of a company culture or clearly stated mission. While the management team addresses the core values and firm culture, temporary workers can replace workers that have left.
Difficult Personality – If rampant staff turnover seems to be concentrated in a certain department or under a particular partner, there may be personality issues at play. A brilliant attorney who is constantly screaming at associates or expecting support staff to handle his personal affairs will always have a revolving door of talent. It is critical to address the nature of the issue to ensure that the firm is protected from any liability arising from bad behavior. In the meantime, utilize the broad reach of a staffing firm to find prospects who have the temperament, experience, and willingness to work with a challenging personality.
Less than competitive packages– Take a look at similar-sized firms to see if the firm’s compensation and benefit plans are competitive. When the plan is not competitive with the market, there is a virtual guarantee that talent will be lost as soon as a better offer comes along. If raising compensation and adding benefits is not possible, then a staffing firm could be the best option because the prospect will be compensated by the agency, not the law firm.
When an organization experiences high employee turnover, it may be time to seek assistance. Collier Legal Search is a qualified and reputable staffing firm and we can help place the right people in the right positions. Furthermore, the firm can avoid the high costs associated with multiple new hires because all risks and obligations are assumed by the staffing firm. Taking advantage of temporary hires or temp-to-permanent employees will allow the firm to address the root cause of high staff turnover while remaining fully staffed and productive.