As culture is so important when it comes to mitigating compliance risks, we can’t express enough the importance of fostering an inclusive law firm culture. It’s critical that law firms create an adaptable work environment and value individuals’ unique preferences, especially in a world where both in-office and remote work are topics of debate.
Having candid conversations, engaging in true collaboration, cultivating a culture of kindness, and maintaining a growth-oriented work environment are essential to sustain a positive law firm culture, and we understand this can be challenging whilst juggling multiple hats of responsibility.
Embracing individuality in work preferences
Creating an attractive environment, where employees genuinely want to be part of the team and buy into the firm’s mission, is a key aspect of building a successful law firm culture. While remuneration is crucial, it’s rarely the sole motivator for professionals.
If you create a culture where people feel valued, seen and heard, staff are more likely to feel committed to the organisation and are more likely to stay, rather than simply comparing and benchmarking pay and package with somewhere else.
Currently, the hybrid work model appears to be the future for most law firms and indeed, post Covid becoming the norm. However, it’s extremely important to strike to maintain balance by conducting meaningful conversations with employees to understand their needs.
Law firms are now recognising that different people have unique preferences and requirements regarding their work environment. While some might thrive in a fully remote setup, others may benefit from the structure of office life. The key is to treat individuals the way they want to be treated, rather than imposing a one-size-fits-all approach.
Elevating well-being and open conversations
The impact of valuing employees’ well-being and the importance of open conversations creates a supportive work culture. At Teal, we employ certain practices to ensure that employees’ mental health and happiness are taken into consideration.
One of these practices is the ‘Happy Bus’ concept, a simple yet effective tool to check in on employees’ well-being. Employees are encouraged to complete their Happy Bus scores at the beginning of the week, and if a score is lower than usual, managers are alerted to check in with the individual. This process provides a consistent avenue for employees to share how they’re feeling and ensures that issues are addressed promptly.
In addition, we introduced a mental health score on the Happy Bus to assess employees’ mental well-being, emphasising the importance of mental health in the workplace.
Cultivating a culture of kindness
Kindness might seem like an obvious concept, but it’s easy to lose sight of in the hustle and bustle of professional life. In law firms, where employees wear many hats and are constantly handling complex cases and tasks, practicing kindness can sometimes inadvertently take a back seat. However, it’s crucial to weave kindness into the culture of a law firm. The impact of being kind to one another extends beyond the office walls and contributes to a harmonious working environment.
Cultivating a kind culture in law firms can be challenging. Law firms must consistently and genuinely demonstrate kindness to create a supportive atmosphere. Leaders must lead by example, showing their teams that kindness isn’t only encouraged but expected.
Kindness isn’t a one-time event; it’s a practice and a behaviour that should be ingrained in a firm’s culture from the very beginning. Firms can incorporate kindness as a key performance measure, ensuring that it remains a core element of their workplace ethos. Such an approach will prevent kindness from being overlooked or perceived as an optional add-on.
What should be considered when fostering an inclusive law firm culture?
Acknowledging the need for change and expressing a genuine desire to foster a culture of kindness is the first step in fostering an inclusive law firm culture.
Seek advice, talk to experts in the field, and engage in discussions with team members. Start small and gradually build on these initiatives. It doesn’t have to be an overnight transformation; it’s about taking the first step toward a more caring and empathetic work environment.
Fostering an inclusive law firm culture goes beyond compensation and the office-versus-remote work debate. It involves treating individuals with the consideration and respect they deserve. Leaders must be open and willing to have candid conversations with their team members, create environments where employees can be honest about their feelings, and act on feedback to address their well-being.
Kindness is not merely a buzzword, but an essential element of a thriving work culture. In law firms, where high-pressure scenarios and demanding tasks are part of daily life, practicing kindness is not just beneficial but necessary. Law firms can take the first step by having open conversations, setting a positive example, and making kindness an integral part of their culture from day one.
A supportive, adaptable and kind culture will be the defining factor for law firms that aim to thrive in the changing landscape of the legal profession.