22/6/2022 by Edward Sorrell
In an attempt to capture the interest of the best talent, companies in every industry are introducing unique and interesting employee benefits, and the legal profession is no different. With larger efforts to help employee mental health, work life balance and reduce stress it is no wonder that added benefits are getting more and more creative. In this blog, we are going to look at the weird and wonderful benefits firms are providing to their staff.
Why do firms offer added extras?
Added extras are a win-win for all involved provided they’re done well. A good benefits system will lead to higher morale and productivity within the business and healthier employees, it also will improve a firm’s employer proposition, helping it attract new employees and retain the best talent, which will ultimately enable the business to thrive.
“You get what you give”
When employees receive more than the standard benefits package, or more than a company is legally required to provide, it implies a level of trust, belief and support from the company. In turn, this is likely to motivate the employee to work hard and produce strong results. Employees who feel valued are likely to return the favour by doing their best.
Not only this but healthy and engaged employees are less likely to leave, saving a business the time and cost of replacing and training new staff. When it does come to hiring new employees, law firms with good benefits systems have a much higher employer value proposition which will add to the competitive advantage, Which, in today’s market, especially in the legal profession, is vital due to “the great resignation”. With only 20% of lawyers actively job seeking, setting your firm apart will only help in the process of hiring. Win-win.
Types of added benefits:
There are many different forms of added extras, benefits and initiatives that firms offer, which can be loosely summarised into 6 main categories:
Personal development initiatives
Work life balance initiatives
Unsurprisingly, health initiatives are up there with the most common initiatives found in workplaces. Firms need healthy employees just as much as humans need air, they won’t survive without them. Corporate health initiatives can range from healthy snacks in the office, subsidised sick leave and annual leave, or providing mental health resources for employees. Firms can also offer financial health incentives such as healthcare cash plans, health insurance plans etc. All of these are great ways for firms to show their employees they care whilst receiving a healthy productive workforce in return.
Weird & wonderful health initiative: Patagonia
It’s no wonder the outdoor clothing and equipment brand promotes healthy living both externally and internally. As part of working for Patagonia employees are actively encouraged to use their lunch breaks to their fullest and head out surfing; the reception staff even make daily announcements about the weather conditions. Not only that - Patagonia offers to pay bail for all of their employees and their partners if arrested at peaceful protests for the conservation of wildlife.
Social incentives have always been a great way to boost employee morale and create stronger relationships in the business. These might include team-building challenges, charity hikes or well-being days. Taking employees out of the office and working to understand them on a personal level will help boost the respect the employees have for the business.
Weird & wonderful social initiative: Freeborn & Peters
This Chicago based law firm holds annual “luggage parties” as a social incentive for their employees. These parties involve all employees packing their bags, coming into work and four being chosen at random to have a paid-for weekend trip to Las Vegas. Whilst it’s a little bit more difficult for UK firms to fund all-expense trips to Las Vegas, the premise holds true; bringing an added layer of fun into the workplace helps boost morale and allows employees to form stronger relationships within the business.
As alluded to earlier, firms offer financial incentives for healthcare but there are also plenty of other financial incentives companies can offer. These can range from providing educational resources on financial and wealth management to paying for employees’ tuition fees. Some firms also offer things like car insurance, fuel costs or more conventional raises and bonus schemes. Finances are the bane of most employees' lives, especially in the current financial climate. National law firm Irwin Mitchell has recently announced that it will be paying its employees an additional bonus this month to reflect the rise in the cost of living.
Weird and wonderful financial initiative: Spotify
In 2014, Spotify, the online music platform, introduced a financial benefit for their female employees as an alternative to paid parental leave. Female employees at Spotify are eligible to receive almost £10,000 in company-covered egg freezing costs. Although this benefit initially sparked huge debates, it has gained a lot of traction and is becoming an ever-growing benefit, especially within the tech industry with more and more firms offering this benefit.
Personal development initiatives
Whilst wanting your employees to develop seems like a given, it is not reflected in many firms. Helping your employees to develop themselves and get better will ultimately improve the business by ensuring that you have more talented, developed, and productive employees. This can come in many forms including book clubs, seminars, creating a self-development culture within the firm
Weird & wonderful personal development initiative: Perkbox
Perkbox is a company that specialises in employee benefits so it’s no surprise to see they are on the list of weird and wonderful benefits. As a way to help develop their staff, Perkbox invite industry expert guests to speak to team members to help them to open their minds to new knowledge and connect with leading figures within the industry. This is a great way to make learning more fun and more deeply-rooted within the firm's culture.
Work-life balance initiatives
More and more firms are understanding the importance of work life balance, with more and more cases of mental health issues, high amounts of stress and increasing risk of burnout. Offering benefits that allow employees to have a greater work life balance is a great route to go down in order to mitigate these risks. Work-life balance incentives involve remote working, flexible working, early finish Fridays or even a four-day week. As part of Realm’s 2021 research, we discovered that flexibility has overtaken pay as the top priority when looking for a new role, with more and more lawyers expecting to be able to work flexibly, so this employee benefit is here to stay.
Weird & wonderful work-life balance initiatives: Realm Recruit
At Realm, wellbeing is at the core of our culture and we have a number of initiatives and benefits that ensure that our team members have a healthy work-life balance. Offering incentives such as Flexi Fridays (our version of the four-day week), total flexibility around when and where we work. Introducing these measures has had a significant impact on the productivity and satisfaction of our team; 2021 was a record-breaking year, we have our largest team to date and our commitment to wellbeing was recognised at the 2021 Greater Manchester Business Awards.
With a greater emphasis within society on protecting the environment and doing the best we can, it is no wonder that businesses too are getting involved. As mentioned earlier Patagonia will pay bail for their employees that are arrested when protesting for the environment however there are many other examples of companies trying to do more. Whilst many may not be as extreme, examples can include subsidised public transport, paid time for volunteering or supplying meat-free alternatives at work.
Weird & wonderful environmental initiatives: Atticus Law
Atticus Law has introduced a new benefit for employees involving an eco-car allowance to benefit both the environment and the employees. The benefit is a salary sacrifice scheme for an electric car. This in turn aims to help the firm’s lawyers save tax and fuel costs, while reducing their emissions and benefiting the environment.
As you can see there is a multitude of different initiatives and benefits out there, all varying in budget and what they aim to achieve. Added extras and benefits are a way for law firms to show they care about their employees and as we have seen firms can get very creative with them. Whilst some may seem like a waste of money, time and effort, there is a reason they exist and the evidence for the success of these measures is mounting year after year.
If you would like to receive attraction, engagement and retention advice or information about the benefits on offer at firms within your specialism, get in touch with us today, or if you are a lawyer looking to find law firms with great added extras call us on 03300 245 606 where our relevant recruiter will be able to help you on your career move.