What makes a happy lawyer?

Posted on 11-26-2013 by
Tags: Trending News & Topics , productivity , job satisfaction

In a recent study the Gallup Organization found that disgruntled employees disengage and cost the American economy up to $350 billion a year in lost productivity. Guess which industry has the largest number of dissatisfied workers?

Yup, you guessed it. According to a survey from a firm known as CareerBliss that used a multi-factor survey to determine the happiest and unhappiest jobs in America, an associate attorney ranks number one as the "worst job" in America. Not far behind at number 7 are legal assistants. 

The fact that lawyers are not happy with their careers is not surprising as this has been widely reported in the past. The effect that this is having on law firm productivity should be alarming to law firm leaders all across the nation. How many millions of dollars of lost productivity are being lost each year due to disgruntled and disengaged lawyers? What can senior partners do about it?

Perhaps the answer is to look at the practices of some of the leading companies when it comes to worker satisfaction. According to CareerBliss and their list of the 50 happiest companies in America in 2013, "professionals rank how they feel about key happiness factors at work bases on things such as the culture of the company, compensation and people they work work with."

In an article in Fast Company, reporter Lydia Dishman provides some answers as she lists the 5 Rules of happy employees:

  • Happy employees don’t stay in one role for too long. Movement and the perception of improvement create satisfaction. Status quo, on the other hand, creates burnout.
  • There is a strong correlation between happiness and meaning; having a meaningful impact on the world around you is actually a better predictor of happiness than many other things you think will make you happy.
  • A workplace is far likelier to be a happy place when policies are in place to ensure that people regularly get acknowledgement and praise for a job well done.
  • Recognize that employees are people first, workers second, and create policies that focus on their well-being as individuals.
  • Emphasize work/life integration, not necessarily "balance."

Perhaps law firms should heed some of this advice and start changing the way they are treating their associates and legal assistants. This change would not only lead to improved morale by legal professionals, but would also have a significant effect on the bottom line.

What are your thoughts on this idea? What steps does your law firm take or not take that have a significant effect on employee morale? Please share your thoughts

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