Working at a law firm can be one of the most personally rewarding career paths anyone can take. Personal fulfilment, however, is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to creating a strong company culture and increasing employee engagement in law firms. To really encourage employees and to improve the employee experience for all law firm staff, you need to consider how you show them appreciation. That’s why Clio has put together five easy staff appreciation ideas for law firms that you can implement today.
Why Staff Appreciation Matters for Law Firms
There’s a quote that says “treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.”
That’s crucial at the time of writing. Right now we are in the midst of a new trend that’s taken hold of the workplace: “The Great Resignation.” Off the back of the pandemic, law firm employees are voluntarily leaving roles, often citing workplace burnout, lack of motivation, and disengagement as their reasons for calling it a day.
Ensuring that employees feel recognised and rewarded on a regular basis is particularly important when it comes to working in a small law firm. As outlined in our Clio post: Legal Recruitment: A Legal Recruiter’s Guide to Attracting the Best Talent, 41% of UK lawyers seeking to make a move said that achieving a salary increase would be very important to them. That can put large law firms at an advantage over smaller firms.
Coming up with staff appreciation ideas might feel challenging without a big budget. However, there are things small and medium law firms can do to create a workplace where their employees are happy to stay for the long haul. While there’s no quick fix for retention, one thing that can really make a big difference in overall employee engagement is recognition. In fact, 75% of employees that receive monthly recognition, (even if it’s informal) say that they are satisfied with their job.
How to Show Staff Appreciation
There are many things law firms can do to recognise and reward great work to show employees that they are truly appreciated. Here are five easy-to-implement staff appreciation ideas to try in your law firm, some free and others low cost.
1. Acknowledge significant dates
Most people know the exact date that they started working for a company, and almost certainly acknowledge it themselves every year when that day rolls around. If you’re a people manager at your law firm, you should know those dates also.
One of the most genuine ways that a company can show employees that they are valued is by paying homage to them on their work anniversaries. Many companies will give their staff a first-class send-off when they are leaving the business—after-work drinks, a gift of appreciation that everyone has chipped in for, bon voyage speeches, the whole nine yards. However, it’s important for employers to give the same type of recognition to the employees who have been with them for any number of years. This could range from something as simple as a gift card for coffee or lunch to a dedicated day off to show your appreciation.
2. Facilitate peer to peer recognition
Who says that appreciation should only come from the employer themselves? Facilitating peer to peer recognition is a really effective way to amplify your efforts with employees.
There are lots of workplace apps available that enable staff to give kudos to each other. If creating yet another communication channel for the business isn’t on the agenda, you could create a dedicated “shoutout” channel in Slack or on any other channel you use so that employees can show their gratitude for each other’s efforts for all to see.
What’s great about peer to peer recognition is that it fosters a culture of collaboration in the workplace. Not only does this encourage knowledge sharing, but it also helps staff members to connect with each other.
We can all agree that getting along with your co-workers can often be half the battle when it comes to job satisfaction!
3. Celebrate social and cultural events
As well as acknowledging your employees’ hard work, you can also celebrate their backgrounds by recognising or observing global social and cultural events in the workplace.
For instance, you could post a series of photos or videos to social media to recognise the amazing work of women at your firm on International Women’s Day. Perhaps you could host a Thanksgiving lunch in honour of the American employees. Or how about offering flexible schedules to employees during Ramadan to safely facilitate fasting throughout the workday?
Demonstrate to staff that your company embraces diversity—not to fill recruitment quotas, but because you’re dedicated to broadening talent pools and encouraging dialogue that helps all employees better understand and appreciate their colleagues’ cultures.
4. Host a dedicated employee appreciation day
Did you know that Employee Appreciation Day is an event that is observed, largely by U.S. companies on the first Friday of March every year? However, that’s not to say that it can’t be introduced by UK or Irish law firms, on any day of the year for that matter! An employee appreciation day is simply an opportunity to show all staff members that their efforts don’t go unnoticed.
Some companies give all workers the afternoon off, some make a sizeable donation to the charity of their employees’ choice, while others arrange a fun activity, such as bowling or attending a comedy gig.
It’s a great idea to engage the staff themselves to see how the majority would like to spend a staff appreciation day. You might discover that most employees have young families and would much prefer to have pizza in the office and clock off a few hours early rather than have a day that’s filled with offsite activities but will require them to arrange additional childcare.
5. Celebrate the wins (big and small)
It’s so easy to get caught up in the everyday stresses of work, where one project or case wrapping up simply leaves space for another one to take over. Before you know it, working life is just a rotating wheel that doesn’t really allow staff to come up for air. Celebrating the wins, no matter how big or small they may be breathes life into an organisation. It also shows staff that they are actively contributing to the bigger picture (and hopefully working towards their professional goals in the process!)
One of the most common blunders that businesses make when it comes to employee engagement is a ‘too little too late’ approach. A simple thank you for working late on a case or a public recognition at a team meeting could actually go much further than a spot prize at an elaborate staff wellness day, so don’t underestimate the motivating power of celebrating any and all victories.
Finally, if you’re going to implement any type of staff recognition in the workplace, we cannot stress this enough—you have to be 100% inclusive. That means ensuring that remote staff are recognised just as much as those who are in the office, so if you’re hosting an employee event, try to make it work for everyone involved or offer an alternative reward for those who work in a different time zone.
Recognising the work of your employees needs to motivate, not alienate. Tie your recognition to your core company values and the staff members that share those same values will naturally want to go the distance with you.
To come up with more staff appreciation ideas, speak to your law firm employees. There may be other easy things that you can do that won’t cost much or anything at all. Keep that communication up to keep employees engaged and feeling rewarded.
We published this blog post in May 2022. Last updated: .
Categorized in: Professional Development