Is flexible working the answer to lawyer wellbeing?

Posted on 15/12/2021 by Edward Sorrell

As every lawyer knows, the legal profession can be very difficult with long hours and large workloads. That’s why burnout and poor mental health is abundant in the profession. A study done by the International Bar Association found that the average score for lawyers on the World Health Organisation’s wellbeing index was 51 out of 100, and for lawyers under the age of 40 it found the average to be 46.5. When we consider that the average score for the general population is 75, this is shocking!  

To support this, our Co-founder, Duane Cormell, sent out a poll to over 5,000 followers asking are they happy with their work-life balance. In response, 41% said no. And in our annual market research, we found that 24% of lawyers do not think their employer has contributed to looking after their mental health. 

So here lies the large problem: lawyer wellbeing. When conducting our research, we found that within the legal profession, there was no one clear approach to wellbeing initiatives. Some believed access to counsellors would help, some thought self-development initiatives could be the answer and others thought standing desks and exercise balls would suffice. But there was one thing that almost every lawyer, 89.1% of those we spoke to be exact, could agree on, and that was flexibility. 

So, is flexibility the way forward for lawyer wellbeing? 

When analyzing our data, we found 2021 was the first-year flexibility has overtaken pay as the top priority when looking for a new job, with 83% of lawyers saying that flexible working would be important to them if they were to look for a new opportunity. The data also showed 84% of respondents saying they felt that their firm should allow them to work remotely for at least 3 days per week. 

Now, trying really hard not to jump to any conclusions, it seems lawyers may like flexibility. However, all this new data should come as no surprise as the 5-day week also came about due to similar reasons, to improve employee wellbeing, retention and engagement. Read more here 

 

Here at Realm, we like to trial out all initiatives before we give advice so we can understand their true impact. Our team have completely flexible working hours and, if they want to, can work a 4-day week and have found great success in it. While this flexibility is on offer, there are team members who prefer to work on Fridays, it's completely up to the individual. Just giving the team the option to control when they work, helps to improve their wellbeing. 

 

We all know the saying “money doesn’t buy happiness” ...well it seems flexibility might. 

 

To learn more, read our annual research report, The Great Talent Shortage: Adapting Your Attraction and Retention Strategies for 2022. And subscribe to our newsletters to read more top content like this. If you're wondering whether work life balance is achievable in the legal profession click here to read a fantastic blog by Clio

Could flexible working be the answer to lawyer wellbeing?

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