Why Your Employees Leave -- and How to Keep Them Around

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on November 23, 2015 3:15 PM

When an employee quits, it's not just a worker walking out the door, its years of training and investment. Hiring replacement employees is expensive and time consuming, requiring you to invest resources in job search and training -- resources that could be better spent on the firms' practice.

Retention is key. With that in mind, here are some of the top reasons law firms suffer from high employee turnover and how you can prevent them.

Why Employees Quit

Every exiting employee has a unique reason for quitting. Some are moving, some are changing careers, some are seeking out better opportunities for advancement. But among workers, a few reasons for leaving a job are nearly universal. These are:

1. Compensation: You've got to pay if you want them to stay. To run a competitive firm, you have to give your workers competitive pay. This means staying on top of how other firms are compensating their employees. Part of this is salary and bonus, but also consider non-cash compensation, like health benefits, work environment, and vacation days. If you want people to stick around, make it worth their while.

2. Stagnation: One of the signs of a talented employee is that she seeks out new challenges and opportunities. Your most talented paralegals, IT workers, and legal secretaries won't be satisfied if they're stuck doing the same thing day in and day out, with little opportunity for advancing their skills.

3. Inflexibility: If you don't allow for any variation in when, where, and how employees work, you're bound to leave your support staff unsatisfied. Flexibility has a surprising impact on employee retention, as noted by Lawyerist. Flexible work environments were a factor in 80 percent of employees' decisions to stay or go, according to one study.

How to Keep Your Staff Around

If you've identified problem areas in employee retention, start correcting them. Here are some straight-forward ways to help keep your workers around -- and happy.

1. Give 'Em What They Want: Well-paid employees are less likely to leave. If you have particularly valuable workers, pay them commensurately. Consider implementing a bonus system that encourages employee performance -- but doesn't make them work themselves to death to get it. If you can't afford to hand out raises, work from home programs and expanded vacation time can also help.

2. It's Not All About Cash: Your firm support staff work for more than just a paycheck. Forming relationships with your workers can be a valuable way to keep them around and invested. Things like skill development programs and formalized mentorships can also help encourage employee loyalty.

3. Re-recruit Your Top Talent: Recruitment doesn't end after a new employee is onboarded. You'll need to periodically "re-recruit" your most valuable talent. That means speaking to workers to know what they're satisfied with, where they see their career heading, and connecting their desires to opportunities at your firm.

And of course, don't underestimate the value of a sincere thank you for a job well-done.

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