Staff engagement ‘biggest concern’ for HR in legal sector

Staff engagement is the biggest issue HR teams in the legal sector are concerned about.

A third of law firms said employee engagement was of ‘great concern’ to them with a further 48% saying it was a concern for them.

According to the The HR in Law Employee Benefits Key Issues Survey 2010, conducted by Portus Consulting on behalf of HR in Law, the activities firms have introduced to boost staff morale include: health and wellbeing days (22%) and team events (42%).

Other suggestions included extra days’ holiday or additional discretionary days off, employee communication events, volunteering days and discount shopping vouchers.

The survey also revealed the top 100 law firms are moving more towards online benefits with 25% now offering such packages compared to 20% last year.

Meanwhile, a further 59% said they plan to review flexible benefits within the next 12 months. More than half (54%) of the top 100, and 57% of national and regional firms consider online flexible benefits as a ‘must have’.

The survey also revealed 52.4% of legal 100 firms plan to move away from post-qualification experience (PQE) pay to merit-based systems within the next 12-24 months.

The survey found 83% of national and regional firms already offer merit-based pay. But this drops to just 30% for legal 100 firms and 25% for US/global firms.

According to the survey the reasons for implementing or considering merit pay are: to create a performance culture (84%); ability to reward high achievers (80%); to influence behaviour (41%); and flexibility when recruiting (45%).

Gregory added: “If they are true to their word the legal 100 may be about to witness its biggest cultural change in decades.”

However, the survey identified a number of factors that are prohibiting law firms from introducing merit pay for fee earners including partners’ commitment to the principle of PQE pay increases (57.1%) and potential damage to staff morale (35.7%).

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