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ANALYSIS: Leaving? Money Talks, But Well-Being Now Wants a Word

Sept. 29, 2021, 9:00 AM

As reports of the “Great Resignation” continue, law firms and legal departments that want to retain their talent should take note: According to Bloomberg Law’s latest Attorney Workload and Hours Survey, work-life balance is the leading reason why respondents are planning to leave their organizations. And, although respondents prioritize salary and compensation most when considering whether to accept an offer for their next position, work-life balance was selected nearly as often as a consideration. That’s a big change in priority from when respondents were considering whether to accept their current job.

Well-Being and Work-Life Balance Increasingly Important

When asked to select the reasons they would consider when planning to leave their current organization, 45% of survey respondents reported looking for better work-life balance, 43% cited reducing work stress, and 39% chose an increased focus on personal life. Better salary and compensation ranked fourth, with 35% of the respondents selecting this as a reason.

The growing value of well-being is further reflected in lawyers’ choices regarding what they’re looking for when choosing a new job. When asked what they would consider most important when deciding whether to accept an offer for their next position, 22% of respondents selected work-life balance as their first priority. This is double the amount of respondents who considered work-life balance as the first priority (11%) when deciding to accept an offer for their current position.

Although salary and compensation continue to be selected as the top priority slightly more frequently than work-life balance—both when deciding whether to accept an offer for their next position (25%) and when they decided to accept an offer for their current position (22%) —work-life balance has seen a much larger shift in the order of importance. Additionally, the importance of work-life balance when deciding to accept an offer for their next position outranks both the type of work and culture—two factors respondents had retrospectively considered more important.

In light of this, focusing on well-being efforts and cultivating a better work-life balance may help law firms and legal departments reduce turnover. At a minimum, consider the following:

  • Offer flexible and more autonomous work arrangements such as remote and hybrid workplaces, flexible work schedules, and compressed work weeks.
  • Cultivate a positive culture that promotes open communication, transparency, trust, and respect.
  • Evaluate workloads regularly and develop succession plans to respond to staffing shortages.
  • Create (or re-create) wellness programs that are inclusive of and responsive to both individual attorneys and the larger organization.

These action items can put an organization on track to allow employees to have better work-life balance. Taking steps now to improve work-life balance can lead to stronger organizational outcomes in the future.

Bloomberg Law subscribers can find related content on our In Focus: Legal Operations page, In Focus: Lawyer Development and In Focus: Lawyer Well-being.

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