With record unemployment rates being reported, finding top legal talent to join your firm can be more of a challenge than ever. Losing a key player now could mean a position can remain unfilled for weeks and even months as you search for an experienced replacement.
To keep retain highly skilled professionals, you may need to step up your retention efforts. While competitive salaries are a starting point, upping the ante on the benefits, incentives and perks your organization offers also is an effective strategy for talent retention.
What’s the difference?
Although some people use the terms benefits, incentives and perks interchangeably, each is a little different and serves a unique purpose:
Benefits are noncash compensation paid indirectly to employees. Professionals expect their employers to offer certain basics, which are not based on performance. Most benefits are related to insurance, such as medical, dental, vision, life and disability, and also include retirement plans.
Incentives consist of rewards that are meant to spur performance and/or bolster retention efforts. These discretionary payments are linked to on-the-job achievements, either individually or as a group, and include bonuses. In law firms, bonuses are frequently tied to billable hours and bringing in new business.
Perks are given in addition to benefits and incentives, often to boost work-life balance and workplace happiness. The high-tech industry is the current leader when it comes to cool perks, but law firms and non-tech organizations are holding their own with enticements like free food, generous parental leaves, personal concierges and student loan assistance.
Landing a job with full benefits is part of the American dream, and most legal professionals won’t even consider a position that doesn’t come with an excellent insurance package, as well as a decent vacation policy and 401(k)-match program. To truly stand out against the competition and to enhance your retention efforts, consider exceeding these expectations.
How do your benefits stack up with those of the competition? Robert Half surveyed more than 740 human resources managers for the 2018 Salary Guides to find out about their company’s non-wage compensation. Besides medical, dental, life and vision insurance, here are the most common benefits offered:
- Accidental death and dismemberment insurance (79 percent)
- Disability insurance (78 percent)
- Employee assistance programs (65 percent)
- Reimbursement for tuition and/or professional certifications (56 percent)
- Healthcare flexible spending accounts (54 percent)
- Dependent care flexible spending accounts (46 percent)
- Wellness programs (42 percent)
- Health savings or reimbursement accounts (41 percent)
- Long-term care insurance (30 percent)
- Legal services (16 percent)
- Identity-theft protection (11 percent)
- Pet insurance (7 percent)
Incentives that entice
While workers don’t see the monetary outlay behind benefits, incentives are a different matter. These cash payments recognize employees for their hard work and are a top way for organizations to improve their retention rate. Traditionally, law firms peg bonuses to profit measures like meeting or exceeding billable hours requirements, but more progressive employers are replacing that metric with employee-friendly goals like teamwork, work ethic and client satisfaction.
Here are some of the top incentives frequently offered by the U.S. and Canadian organizations we surveyed:
- Spot awards for individual or team achievements (37 percent)
- Profit sharing (20 percent)
- Retention bonuses (18 percent)
- Stock options, restricted stock or performance shares (18 percent)
- Deferred compensation (16 percent)
Perks that work
When weighing job offers, legal professionals look at the base salary, benefits package and bonus structure. But when it comes to retention, company culture plays an important role. Money goes only so far in keeping top talent happy. A positive, supportive work environment can be hard to find — but certain perks can help in that department. If your staff love their job and are excited to come to work, they are unlikely to explore other opportunities.
Below are the most popular company perks, according to HR managers who responded to our company survey:
- Flexible work schedules (62 percent)
- Regular social events (39 percent)
- Telecommute options (34 percent)
- Onsite gyms or access to gyms (25 percent)
- Compressed schedules, such as working four 10-hour days per week (17 percent)
- Free or subsidized meals (13 percent)
Smart managers benchmark not only their organization’s salaries, but also their entire benefits package, incentive plans and basket of perks. As you consider your retention strategies, take a close look at what you offer and how that compares with the competition. Then work toward meeting or exceeding your employees’ expectations.
Jamy J. Sullivan is executive director of Robert Half Legal, a premier legal staffing service specializing in the placement of attorneys, paralegals, legal administrators and other legal professionals with law firms and corporate legal departments. Based in Menlo Park, Calif., Robert Half Legal has offices in major North American and global markets and offers a full suite of legal staffing and consulting solutions.