The success of your law firm is very much related to your employees’ happiness. While many small business owners spend a lot of time instilling policies and practices that help track their employees’ time and productivity, many neglect to measure employee happiness as an important metric for their business’ performance. Running a law firm, your lawyers and other personnel are your business’ most important asset. They help bring in clients, keep them happy and win cases. Every employee in your firm plays a role in the overall success of your firm. If any of these employees are not happy in their job however, their performance and that of the entire firm will be negatively affected. There are numerous studies that indicate how large the effect employee happiness has on the success of a business, especially one that relies on the performance of knowledge workers. Below are a few tips that can help keep your employees happy and performing well, while making your firm a better place to work.
Empower Your Employees
Many lawyers who run their own small firm have a tendency to try to control everything that goes on, micro-managing the tiniest details of their employees’ work. Not only will this type of behavior suck up your valuable time, but it will also have a negative effect on your employees’ happiness and performance. Give your employees some ownership over their tasks. You can guide them at the beginning (especially if they have to perform tasks they’ve never done) and enquire about the status of certain tasks, but don’t try to micro-manage everything they do all the time. If an employee feels that the work they do is their own and has an actual impact on the success of the firm, they will feel much more proud of their work and consequently enjoy it more. This will lead to better individual and eventually firm performance. Even something as simple as letting your employees design their own workspaces in the office can improve your employee’s performance (by up to 32% one study shows).
Create an Immediate Feedback Culture
Giving and asking for feedback is very important in any business. Employees want to know how they are performing on their tasks, but they want to know it now, not at the end of the year. That way they can immediately adjust when any of their work is lacking quality or missing the right focus. The management of the firm also needs to be open to feedback. Implement an informal weekly or bi-weekly feedback session so any issues can be addressed promptly.
Help Keep Your Employees Healthy
Health is very important for employee happiness and performance. If your employees are not healthy, they’ll more often have to skip work due to illness and are more likely to be unhappy. You want to encourage your employees not to work extremely long hours every day. While you may believe that having employees that often work late is good for your firm, in the long term this can actually decrease overall productivity and lead to burned-out lawyers and other employees. Create a culture where it’s ok to leave the office early sometimes. Also encourage exercise and healthy eating, for example by giving your employees free gym memberships and providing fruit at the office.
Make sure to ask your employees what they believe is important to keep them happy at the firm and use this to instill new employee happiness policies.
Zane Schwarzlose is a writer at Alamo Injury Attorneys, a personal injury law firm in San Antonio, Texas. Zane thinks it would be too easy to overwork employees in a law firm.
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