Offering good benefits is extremely important for your law firm. It can easily help you increase your employee retention, especially for very good workers. Additionally, if your employees are happy with their work environment, it’ll help improve their morale. By spending some thought and money choosing the benefits you want your firm to offer, you’re sure to come out with a win. You’ll be able to retain stronger candidates for longer, meaning that you won’t have to train someone new as frequently. If your employees see that you’re willing to invest in them, perhaps they’ll be more likely to better invest in you as well.
In your solo practice, it may be more difficult for you to offer salaries and benefits that are comparable to those offered by large law firms. However, that doesn’t mean your law firm can’t be competitive with its benefits, and you can still stand out from the crowd of other employers. This can be especially true if you’re offering non-traditional benefits. While a potential employee might decide to not work for you because he/she has always dreamed of working for a large firm, a different potential employee might choose your solo law firm over another solo law firm based on your benefits package.
In terms of traditional benefits, make sure you provide competitive salaries, paid time off, health insurance, life insurance, and a retirement plan. It depends on your firm how strong these benefits can be. However, keep in mind that there are resources available to help smaller companies personalize their benefits in a way that will make employees happy and won’t be as expensive for you. For instance, many smaller companies omit having a retirement plan. Consider adding one to your benefits, as it can help you save for retirement as well!
In terms of non-traditional benefits, here are a few for you to consider:
Flexible work arrangements
This one is easy for you to arrange and doesn’t cost you anything. Flexibility in general is something that helps private practices stand out from larger firms. Likewise, flexibility attracts younger employees, and millennials are currently the biggest generation in the workforce. Therefore, why not let employees take full advantage of it? Flexibility doesn’t mean that your employees can do whatever they want whenever or wherever they want. Instead, it can mean that employees have a certain amount of work from home days or their daily start and stop times could vary. For example, as long as they put in eight hours of work per day, it may not matter to you if that’s done 8 AM - 4 PM or 10 AM - 6 PM.
This may appear like a small benefit, but it can go a long way. First, it shows your employees that you’re not micromanaging and helicoptering over all of their actions. Second, flexible hours make every day life easier for your workers. For instance, suppose they schedule a doctor’s appointment early in the morning. Instead of having to request some time off, they can simply stay late that day. Alternatively, if you have a client who wants to meet later in the evening, it might be a good idea to give your workers the morning off so that they can be present for this meeting as well.
Maternity and paternity leave
It’s an unfortunate reality that many jobs across the US do not offer standard maternity and paternity leave. However, it’s so important for the new parents and their kids. Letting parents stay home with their kids longer can help them establish a better relationship with their children, can help them financially so that they don’t have to spend money on daycare quite so soon, and can help them be better rested before returning to work. Since this benefit isn’t as common, it can definitely help your firm stand out.
Gym or wellness benefit
Maybe you’re one of those lucky folks who have gotten used to working out regularly. That’s great, because not all of us are like that! It’s important for everyone to establish healthy habits and you can help your employees do this. First, if your office allows for a gym space, buy some gym equipment and set up an office gym! This is a very cost effective solution if your space permits it. You don’t need much - a treadmill, bike, elliptical, weights, a weight station, and some yoga mats are a great start. If possible, add a TV or laptop where employees can find workouts or watch something to keep them entertained while they work out. You might spend a few thousand dollars to get this set up, but you won’t be spending much to maintain the gym, and your employees can use it on their own time.
Suppose you don’t have space for an office gym. If there’s a local gym nearby, sponsor a gym membership for your employees there. The local gym will be happy to have new customers and may even set up a partnership with you, where the membership rate is prorated. You can also allot a certain amount of money per month or year that employees can use towards their fitness goals. This can allow them to participate in different studios or classes that your employees are interested in.
Paid volunteer time
Volunteering is a great way to do something good for your community and to establish partnerships within your community as well. Sometimes, it can be difficult to get your employees to want to volunteer. Therefore, if volunteer hours are built into your work schedule (such as a few volunteering opportunities per year), your employees are more likely to be excited about them. Volunteering will give them a change of pace for the day while allowing you to indirectly advertise your law firm. Volunteer with an organization that aligns with your firm! For instance, if you are a Social Security disability firm, consider organizing a day to volunteer with your local ARC.
If you want your employees to continue doing their best work for you, you’ll need to make sure that they are compensated fairly and that office morale is high. There are plenty of other benefits that you can offer. Find out from your employees what benefits they value most and spend some time ensuring that your office stands out from the rest.