The battle for talent in professional firms

Published by Sarah Ediss on 11 August 2022

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In an ever-competitive marketplace, recruiting and retaining the best talent is crucial for the ongoing success of a professional services firm.

A tight labour market is currently cited as one of the top concerns for law firm leaders.

Despite the recent pandemic, professional services are currently a growth sector which is being limited by the availability of chargeable hours.

There is currently a “tug-of-war” for talent”.

How should you consider winning this battle?

One of key elements to get right is the retention of your current employees.

A high staff turnover is not good for growth. Retention is the low-cost form of recruitment – making sure your existing staff want to stay with your firm.

You should be constantly selling why they should stay with you. Think of it as a PR exercise.

Where once a generous salary was the biggest draw to any given employer, the emphasis is now very much towards the overall employment benefits and working environment that are available.

What is the level of autonomy and working hours flexibility given to each team member, is there a good work atmosphere, is everyone treated fairly and given good feedback? How has your firm approached the return to office after Covid and how does this compare to your competitors?

These are all questions which your employees will be asking when considering whether to move to a new role.

Strengthen the recruitment process

If you do have to recruit new employees, then make sure this is a rigorous process.

Don’t cut corners when it comes to choosing the right person. You may be desperate to fill a vacancy but employing the wrong recruit will have significant negative consequences.

There may be a non-refundable recruitment fee, hours of lost training provided by other team members bringing them up to speed, followed by starting the process all over again if you must carefully exit someone who isn’t the right fit for the role.

A robust recruitment procedure is more important than ever in a competitive market.

Consider the other options

You could also consider alternatives to the traditional UK employment market.

Providers across the globe provide cost-effective and efficient legal and back-office functions, for example.

Another area to consider is technological solutions.

Can any of your processes be automated? Whilst this may have higher upfront costs and take longer to implement, it could have higher accuracy and reduce the number of people required on a task.

Automation is already taking place in our everyday lives, from customer service “bots” to artificial intelligence learning our spending habits with our connected bank accounts for credit approval.

Law firms should ensure they prioritise their talent management strategies relating to recruitment, retention, and employee development.

Our own Shaping your future report suggests that businesses must invest in technology, digitalisation, and people to stay ahead of the game.

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