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Today’s public sector legal professionals are more likely than ever to prioritise wellbeing support when choosing a role. Employers need to be aware of this and improve their offering in this area to attract the best candidates.
Public sector organisations traditionally do this by focusing on a number of key metrics, such as salary, career progression and other professional perks. However, in the current marketplace, it is important that they do not underestimate the importance of wellbeing initiatives.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a significant shift in career priorities for many professionals. After an extended period of furlough or remote working, it has become increasingly important for legal professionals to feel they are being supported in their roles, and that they are being given the opportunities they need to focus on their wellbeing.
As such, public sector organisations need to be doing all they can to ensure that they are providing the right environment and wellbeing measures to properly support their existing workforce — and to provide a strong offer for prospective candidates.
The growing demand for proactive wellbeing support in the workplace has been demonstrated by Sellick Partnership’s recent survey of 172 legal professionals, which polled them on what to look for when considering a new job. The results highlighted the following trends:
Looking at the specific responses regarding what people are anticipating from a new role also revealed a consistent demand for better wellbeing standards:
We spoke to one of our clients, Magda Dyson, Senior Solicitor at The Borough Council of Calderdale, who outlined the plans in place to support staff.
Magda said: “We have weekly team meetings where we allocate work to individuals. This keeps everything transparent and balanced so no one is taking on more work than anyone else. It also gives everyone a chance to talk about any specific matters relating their workload, so it feels much more like a team caseload rather than an individual’s.
“We organise social events outside of work and also share funny anecdotes we have seen; I think this really shows the human side to everyone.
“We have a plan in place for continuing our working from home arrangements. We will maintain working from home on a permanent basis but each team will have one day per week where they may go into the office if they want to. The decision to attend the office will be left up to each individual. This means everyone will have flexibility of choice, whilst maintaining stability and transparency.”
When analysing these responses, a number of recurring themes emerge:
Although remote working is in high demand, not every aspect of working from home has been seen as positive. During the pandemic, many legal professionals have felt isolated and cut off from the broader organisation, without being able to spend time getting to know their colleagues.
As such, candidates for public sector legal roles are keen to hear about an organisation’s working culture and team ethos, and will consider these factors. Employers need to clearly communicate their values and team ethos, particularly in terms of social events and the steps taken to ensure that people working remotely can feel fully involved in the organisation’s culture.
Many legal professionals experienced significant stress during the pandemic, becoming overwhelmed and unsure of where to turn for support, due to a lack of physical proximity to their colleagues and managers. Now that pandemic restrictions have eased, staff are keen to ensure that they are not put in this position again.
As such, applicants for new roles are likely to have questions about average workloads and the likelihood of having to work extended hours, and will be looking for an employer that prioritises the mental health and wellbeing of the team, including putting clear systems in place for workers to get help if they are experiencing a lot of strain.
In order to ensure they are delivering a competitive employment package that can attract the top legal talent, public sector organisations need to make sure they are considering wellbeing and work culture as a top priority. This means:
By taking these steps and emphasising them to prospective candidates, public sector organisations can deliver a powerful selling point for new legal recruits — while also ensuring they are better equipped to improve retention among current staff members, who might otherwise be tempted by higher salaries offered within the private sector.
To find out more insights about the wellbeing benefits that public sector legal candidates are looking for, get in touch with me today.
If you want to learn more about how Sellick Partnership can help public sector employers to access the very best legal talent, visit our legal recruitment hub, or call us on 0161 834 1642.