Nearly 8-in-10 employers in legal field planning bonuses, raises: Survey

Firms focusing on strengthening retention programs
||Last Updated: 06/02/2011

As business conditions improve and the employment market rebounds, compensation is re-emerging as a crucial retention strategy for many employers in the legal field, according to a survey by Robert Half Legal.

Seventy-nine per cent of the 150 lawyers surveyed across Canada said their law firms or corporate legal departments plan to award their associates pay raises and bonuses.

"Although many law firms and legal departments were forced to reduce staff and freeze salaries in the past few years, retention of top performers definitely remains a priority, especially as the economy recovers," said Anne Edmonds, Canadian regional manager at Robert Half Legal. "Employers in the legal field are increasingly strengthening their retention programs, including offering raises and bonuses, before employees consider other opportunities."

However, 15 per cent of respondents said no additional compensation would be given.

"Oftentimes, the costs of recruiting and training new hires exceed compensation-related expenses for current staff," said Edmonds. "For those companies with smaller budgets, other non-monetary incentives such as telecommuting, additional time-off and flexible scheduling remain great options to reward hard-working staff."

To retain key talent, according to Robert Half Legal, employers should:

•Promote professional learning: By emphasizing training, organizations demonstrate they support the long-term success of staff. Cost-effective ideas include supporting mentor relationships and online classes.

•Provide well-defined career paths: Challenging assignments enhance employee job satisfaction and also serve to identify future leaders. Consider how tasks might be reassigned to advance someone's career goals.

•Emphasize the firm's culture: Remind employees about those aspects of the work environment that are hard to find elsewhere.

• Publicly praise contributions: Appreciation and recognition can go a long way to foster loyalty. Publicly acknowledge individual and team successes to let employees know their efforts are appreciated.

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