As I was thinking about the Thanksgiving holiday as well as the upcoming holiday season (whichever holiday you celebrate) and what they really mean, I was reminded of what really “makes” those times so special. It is the taste of your mother’s holiday recipes– the turkey, the stuffing, the sweet potatoes with cinnamon and the pumpkin pies. It is the smell of the Christmas tree you and your family wrestle into the stand, the decorations that have been passed down to you over the years, and the songs that you belt out amongst family and friends. It is the traditional gatherings where you see family members you haven’t seen since the year before with all of their individual personalities! It is the passing on of traditions from generation to generation. So, it is the “experience” of the holidays that we all look forward to every year. Retailers have been trying to “bottle and sell” that experience in a million different ways, from scented candles and “old fashioned” glass ornaments to Mrs. Smith’s pumpkin pie. Unfortunately, or fortunately, the experience isn’t for sale. Why? Because people make the experience.
Now transport yourself to your law office. What kind of “experience” do your clients and your staff have? Is it one like I have mentioned above where you long for it to come around all year long? Do your employees love coming to work? Do they feel valued as much if not more than the clients? Would they recommend your law firm to someone in their family who was injured? Now consider your clients’ experience: Does your employees’ enthusiasm transfer over to the treatment of your clients? Do clients feel “heard” by you? Do they feel that you value their business? Unfortunately, most lawyers aren’t trained business people; that’s why you don’t often see law firms listed as the “best places to work.” But what is fortunate is that building a culture that your staff wants to work and thrive in is not any more “expensive.” In fact, studies have shown when employees are happy in their working environment they are more productive, take less “sick days,” and there is less employee turn over.
I have borrowed some thoughts from several firms and businesses I admire. Some relate to clients and some to staff, but either way – you’ll have people remembering your firm forever because of the way you chose to treat them and the way it made them feel!
- Ask your staff for feedback via an anonymous email system that the partners or those in charge of hiring/firing do not ever see. The feedback can be relating to office structure/processes, client relations, etc. Or it could be on things to improve office “life”. The one that saves the most money for the firm at the end of the year gets a week’s vacation.
- Allow and encourage your staff to take a selected amount of paid time off to volunteer at an organization of their choice.
- Encourage a professional development reading program and “book club” that you also participate in!
- Depending on office size – encourage your staff to bring their pets and their children to the office. Not when they are sick. 🙂
- Offer more than just water or coffee to your clients when they arrive and then remember via a note in your case management system which beverage they selected so that you can make sure to offer it to them on their next visit.
- Have games and puzzles (ex. Scrabble and UNO) and a COMFORTABLE break-room.
- Have your attorneys walk clients out to the car with an umbrella when it is raining.