8 Things for Employers to Do This Year

The first month of the year is gone and before you know it will be the end of the financial year, then time for Christmas party invitations.  As an employer, what will 2015 bring for you?  Will you be the person your staff look forward to seeing when they come to work?  Will your staff be engaged, happy and willing to go the extra mile for you?8 things for employers

Here are eight easy things you can resolve to do in 2015:

Conduct your staff appraisals on time – don’t put them off, whether you are giving good news or bad.  And remember that appraisals are to cover off the last 12 months, not the last 2 weeks.  And if someone is not performing, before you leap into performance management consider whether coaching or mentoring will be of benefit first.

Review your policies – check that they are up to date and reflect your firm values and promote you as an employer of choice. Are you able to exercise discretion if needs be in situations of hardship?

Review salaries on the basis of gender and level – are you sure your staff are paid based on merit?  Conducting a comparative review of salaries based on year level and gender will show you where there are problems if you have a staff member at risk of leaving, and also if there are discrepancies based on gender.  Ask yourself honestly if differences are really based on performance or bias.

Deal with complaints or allegations of improper conduct immediately – remember the standard you walk past is the standard you accept. If someone trusts you to open up to you about a concern they have with someone else’s behaviour, don’t betray that trust by not confronting it.

Adopt the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation mental health guidelines (http://www.tjmf.org.au/raise-the-standard/) – review where you are and honestly commit to where you want to be.  Open up a conversation with one of your staff members if you are concerned about their mental health.

Make your promotion procedures transparent – are your promotions criteria and the performance criteria for senior associate and partner known?   Some firms keep this a deep dark secret but transparency of process and standards has a lot going for it. It allows for honest conversations about promotional prospects and gives staff something to aim for.

Keep your stars engaged and stretched intellectually – if you have a star performer, it is imperative to make sure they are not only engaged, but busy and also stretched intellectually.  Introduce them to clients, give them responsibility, and stretch assignments to give them new skills and a challenge.

Commit to flexible working – Flexible work is the way of the future.  It is the way of work now for many workplaces.  Don’t be left behind.  Check your own assumptions and biases about how people work.  Commit to measuring output not hours in the office.  For roles that genuinely require attendance in the office offer flexibility in terms of start and finish times.  Your generosity will be rewarded with loyalty.

Doing things the way you have always done them will result in the same output.  What can you do differently this year to enhance your performance as an employer?

Rewarding high performers

A recent Harvard Business Review Article examined ‘What High Performers Want At Work’ https://hbr.org/2014/11/what-high-performers-want-at-work

The article starts with the premise that a high performer can deliver 400% more productivity than the average performer.  So it makes sense to make sure that they are rewarded appropriately and are engaged at work, doesn’t it? This is particularly so, in light of the fact that if they are high performers, they are likely to be in demand and at risk of being poached by another firm. High Performer

Here are some ways we know will engage your stars:

  • The most important thing is to make sure you communicate often with your star performer – discussing their work, career objectives and level of engagement are crucial.
  • Find out what motivates them as an individual – lumping them together at review time and assessing them as against peers to set salary bands is not going to make them feel supported if that is how you are going to answer them when they query their salary review.
  • Find innovative ways to remunerate them – whether it be by additional special leave after a big transaction or project, or gift cards, or a gift to their partner, little things add up to big loyalty.
  • Give a lot of encouragement and feedback – especially if the feedback comes from clients or outside your own team.  The impact of positive psychology cannot be underestimated – you will reap great rewards if your stars know you regard them highly and acknowledge it.
  • Consider stretch assignments.  High performers enjoy achievement, and want to learn. Think about what transactions they can be included in to help them learn and grow.
  • Involve them in the business, to an appropriate level.  Help them understand your business drivers, its risks and strengths, as well as opportunities, and how they can help.
  • If they are technically excellent, help them develop the other skills needed to excel in the profession – for example client and business development, people skills, as well as practice management.

Don’t let your stars shine somewhere else.

5 Great ways to reward & appreciate your staff

AppreciationWhat do you do when you know a staff member is terribly resentful that he or she did not get the pay rise they were looking forward to? There is no doubt that in tough economic times, it is difficult to give your staff the salary increases they might want or expect. Disappointment is inevitable.

How do you ensure you retain your best performers in a tough market and where top performers will be in demand, and at risk of leaving or being poached?


Most importantly don’t ignore the problem.  Most problems are, if not solved, then lessened, by communication. Explain the decision, the reasons for it, and what the future holds. Ask for their feedback. Ask what motivates them. Rewards can be fashioned around what motivates individuals.

Here are some options:


Bonuses can take a number of forms. Performance bonuses based on meeting set criteria (and not just financial) are a good way to motivate. Don’t leave it 12 months after the event – try breaking the bonus up into two parts, payable six-monthly.

Retention bonuses are paid, regardless of performance to encourage staff to stay for a period of time.  Some call it a golden handcuff – but if a staff member is at risk of departure, keeping them with you for a set period of time with a reward at the end may be enough to see the tough times through.

A holiday bonus is a great way to reward your staff before they go on leave – and a great surprise for them if not linked to any event other than wishing them a happy holiday.

Some organisations pay a loyalty leave bonus which pays staff a small bonus with an extra week’s leave after five years’ service.

Time and flexibility

Does you staff member have child or eldercare responsibilities?  Offer time – either in blocks, or shorter days when work is light on. If work is full on and long hours are worked, offer a day or afternoon off at an appropriate time.


Buy a few gift vouchers to have in your top drawer – and vary them. Grocery store vouchers may not float the boat of someone who is into cars. Movie vouchers, massages, and other experiences are all good rewards and these should be given out at a time close to an event worth rewarding.


Create a greater sense of team. Bring in a cake for your team meetings. Take the team out for lunch for no reason. There are a myriad number of ways to do this.


Staff who feel appreciated are more likely to go the extra mile for you. Say thank you and express appreciation on a regular basis.

What are your favourite ways to reward your staff?

Getting the best out of your recruiter – For Employers

If you are reading this, it is because you are already working with us or want to work with us.

We set the highest standards for ourselves and want that for our clients as well.

Our role is to make sure we know where to find key people who can add value to any workplace, and to keep a close eye on employment trends. We don’t just recruit for you; we add value to our business relationships, which we see as a long term relationship.

For us to give you the best possible service, we want to work with you to know you and your business, so here are some suggestions we like our clients to take on board to get the best out of us:

Meet with us

A short meeting at the beginning of a relationship – and this is often the first time we are recruiting for you – gives us a good understanding of your needs, your current structure, and the business.  We like to stay in touch with our clients regularly, whether we are currently recruiting for you or not. This gives us an opportunity to get to know you better and have a deeper knowledge of your business and culture.  We want to place the right candidates for you, not just make a placement.

Know the role

Having a clear understanding of the role you need filled, and the type of person you need is important.  If you are replacing someone who has left, rather than finding another person just like that, think about the skills you need, is someone more junior needed who can develop into the role.  Do you have a role description? This will help enormously in finding the right person to match the skills you need.

Tell us everything we need to know

If you have the role with more than one recruiter – let us know. We won’t be embarrassed or concerned, although we don’t believe briefing several recruiters will get the best result for you.

Review CVs promptly

We will only send you CVs to consider if we think they are right for the role.  Sometimes those people are being considered for other roles. So please get back to us quickly – we hate our clients missing out on great people.

Finally – if you are happy with our service, please let others know!

The best way to respond to a complaint

Anyone who has been on the wrong end of a complaint about behaviour will know how stressful it is.  Bullying is a word that is used a lot when often miscommunication is the main culprit.

Good employers will provide support to both the accused and the complainant in these situations and it is important if you are the one whose behaviour is complained of to make sure you seek out and use the support of someone you trust.

But how do you respond?  First of all it is important to check your initial emotional response.  Take a deep breath as that first response needs to be a measured one.  It is natural to be upset, however being over emotional will not do you, or anyone else, any favours in the long run.

Here are some quick tips on how to proceed:

  • Acknowledge and state your initial reaction.
  • Ask for particulars – if none are given at the time, ask for a time frame
  • Demonstrate that (assuming you do not believe the allegation to be true)  you are willing to work with whoever is investigating the complaint to get a resolution
  • Ask for a time frame around the process
  • Commit to keeping the fact of the complaint confidential (aside from a support person), and ask that this be reciprocated
  • Ask who knows about it and why certain people have to be involved
  • Stay in control of the process as much as you possibly can – if you are not being communicated with, ask what the next step is
  • If the complainant is someone with whom you work, find out how you are expected to behave with that person, and how you are to work together.
  • Be open to changing your behaviour – if you think an allegation is not true, bear in mind that perceptions can be very different, and you may need to be more aware of subtleties in communication to help resolve the issue
  • Remain positive about the future and what you can learn from the experience.

Adding value for clients

These days competition amongst law firms is at its peak.  For clients, lawyers need to be more than good legal technicians now more than ever – they need to become ‘trusted advisors’ to their clients, and in a much shorter time frame.

Adding value for your clients is one way to deepen your relationship with clients. Differentiating yourself from other lawyers working in the same area means that, when cost and expertise are more or less the same, the relationship is what will keep the client coming back to you.  So how do you do it?  Here are some quick and easy ways to add value for your client:

  • Know your client’s industry and what interests them.  Send them articles you read that you think may be of interest to the client, with commentary if appropriate.
  • Set up google alerts for the name of your client  – If your client makes the news with a product launch or acquisition for example, acknowledge that your have seen it and congratulate them.
  • Send status updates on current matters, even if nothing is happening.  Staying in touch so that a client doesn’t have to ask ‘what’s happening?’ is vitally important.
  • Provide education seminars to the client and staff from time to time.
  • Refer work to them from other clients if you get the opportunity.
  • Find out something personal about the client (birthday, important anniversary) and acknowledge it.  Try a handwritten note.
  • Offer an annual review of the client’s needs. Although free, it is likely that more work will come from it.
  • If you attend a conference where the papers may be of interest, summarise them or send them a copy of the papers.
  • At the conclusion of a major matter, organise a meeting to debrief with the client on what was done well and what could have been done better

Think about ways you can add value to your clients – there are many more ways you can do this to add to this list.  Let us know your favourites.

Great tips to help you find talent

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Getting the right people onboard, who possess the right technical skills and who are the right cultural fit, is imperative for any law firm’s success and profitability, but how do law firms find talent? Here are some great tips to help you find talent. Read more

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As the economy slows, employees can be reluctant to move, so finding new, good quality staff can be difficult. You may need to get more creative when looking for the right people for your business. Here are 6 tips on on how to recruit and attract good staff. Read more