The real reason law firms are failing the recruitment test: the answer is in their employer brand


Our Founder and CEO Melissa Davis looks at why employer brand programmes are becoming more and more in demand – and a bigger and more vital part of our business too.

Have you ever come back from a holiday and reassessed your career options? Does your current job still suit you, your family? Does it still give you purpose?

This year has brought new challenges for employers in all sectors but perhaps most notably at the moment in the legal sector.

Often when people return from holiday they think ‘I need a new challenge’, particularly in January and September. Not everyone, of course, but enough to make these months a time when we see moves either beginning to happen or conversations beginning which will become new roles in the not-too-distant future.

And the one thing I’ve noticed in the past 12 months more than anything is the number of people – Managing Partners, recruiters, Partners and others – describing the recruitment market as ‘tougher than they have ever seen before’ and it’s keeping them awake at night.

That matters for two reasons. Firstly, if you’re looking to grow your business, you don’t just need more people but the right people. They are becoming harder and harder to find.

Secondly, if your own colleagues choose to move on, then you need the right people to replace them just to stand still. And again, the right people aren’t easy to find in a market which is becoming more and more competitive… and standing still isn’t the best option right now.

Happy people, happy outcomes

Perhaps then it’s no surprise that we’re being asked to help more firms than ever with their employer brand and engagement programmes. Looking after your current colleagues and attracting new ones has never been closer to the top of business’ agendas than it is now.

Not so long ago, ‘employer brand’ was seen by many as a marketing buzz-word. A fancy name for something that didn’t really matter, did it?

Scratch that now. Everyone from Board and Executive Committee members down is now switching on to the importance of how they do business and how they are perceived – not just externally but even more importantly by their own internal audience.

It makes solid business sense. The numbers don’t lie. Research by Gallup just before the pandemic showed that highly engaged teams are 21% more profitable and 17% more productive. What’s not to like about that?

But the other finding is even more relevant in the current climate. Engaged teams have 25% less turnover. That’s 25% less people you need to find each year and frankly, less outlay too on recruitment consultants.

If you’re losing fewer people, and they’re more productive because they’re happier in their work and their teams, then it makes it easier as well to focus your recruitment efforts on growth – which means making your business stand out and look like a place where people really want to work. The opposite of standing still.

Standing out

It makes sense. Nothing about this is really a surprise when you think about it. But what might surprise you if you haven’t considered this yet is how the people in the market now view their careers and their future employers.

How firms go about their business is now increasingly important, especially with the next generation of lawyers, leaders and experts from other areas which are increasingly important to firms – tech and IT, operations, marketing, people and development specialists.

Yes, of course doing great work for great clients still matters but so too does the way the business treats its people and the community. What it puts back, what it feels like to work for your firm, how the business is perceived in the wider community.

It starts with your own people. They can be your best ambassadors but also can be a challenge. If they’re not happy, word will get out into the market, especially if you have a high turnover issue. Who wants to join a business everyone can’t wait to leave?

But imagine the opposite. Colleagues sharing their pride in the business they work for, what they do and the way they do it. Creating a buzz around your business. Posting on social about how great it is to work for you.

And that’s the essence of employer brand. Engaged people, proud of the business they work for, becoming powerful advocates – attracting the attention of potential recruits, the people who might recruit them and also, not forgetting, current and future clients.

Because a strong employer brand is a winning proposition for the three key audiences you need – your colleagues, recruiters and target recruits and clients, keen to work with a business that people are proud to work for and which not only offers technical excellence and market knowledge but also puts back into the community and cares about sustainability.

Ultimately, a business which genuinely makes its people proud is one worth getting to know.

Find out more about how we can build a strong employer brand for you and your business or just get in touch.

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