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As planning season approaches it is critical to take a closer look into the state of your business planning for the upcoming year and beyond, taking special consideration into auditing your firm’s current Talent Strategy. We have compiled the top considerations, both from best practice and law firm employee survey data, for developing a comprehensive talent strategy that fosters employee growth and improves retention. 

Adopting a Deliberate Staff-Side Talent Strategy

There is a cultural shift taking place in the legal industry in which firms are raising the profile for and prioritizing professional staff by providing competitive compensation packages and professional development opportunities. This shift has led to a strong demand for a more deliberate staff-side talent strategy and reimagining of the traditional firm hierarchal structure.  

The embracement of this mentality and prioritization of professional staff will afford firms the opportunity to better run like a business, while also improving the attraction and retention of high-caliber business services professionals who drive firm productivity and growth.  

Consider Employee Upskilling and Reskilling Opportunities 

A lack of career advancement is a key driver of turnover in organizations, as employees seek to continually challenge themselves and strengthen their skillsets. Providing upskilling and reskilling opportunities allows employees to advance their personal skillset while also enabling adaptability within the firm, increasing current and future productivity and, in turn, profitability. Calibrate’s recent pulse survey on upskilling and reskilling opportunities for law firm professionals found that only 61% of respondents currently receive support from their firms, while 98% would like access to these resources.  

While simply offering opportunities to upskill and reskill is a good start, identifying which opportunities employees seek out and find valuable requires further attention and consideration. Our reskilling and upskilling research further established that there is a significant misalignment between the accessibility of the desired professional development resources and what is currently being offered by firms.  

This gap between the current and ideal state of development opportunities for employees demonstrates the need for firms to seek feedback outside of the boardroom when planning to be inclusive of the voices the programs directly impact. This will not only help improve employee satisfaction and utilization of programs, but also affords the firm the opportunity to reallocate the budget for resources that do not add value for employees and therefore become a sunk cost.  

Implement a Mentorship Program

Our professional development research found that the majority of employees (79% of respondents) would like to have access to mentorship and coaching opportunities while only 21% currently have access to these resources at their firms.  

Mentoring and coaching programs have the potential to make a profound impact on areas of individual development such as leadership and communication skills, sense of belonging, self-confidence, and mental well-being. These benefits apply not only to mentees but mentors as well according to research from Accenture. 

From a talent optimization standpoint, mentoring and coaching allow firms to improve employee engagement and productivity, identify high-potential employees, improve retention, and create targeted learning and development plans. Research from the Society for HR Management further suggests that formalized mentoring programs can assist in solving human resources challenges such as recruitment, succession planning, and cultural change initiatives. 

Developing Career Development Discussion Framework for Managers

Beyond mentoring and coaching, firms can also foster growth by implementing a structure for career-growth conversations at all levels. Our research found that employees desire more frequent career development and goal-focused discussions with their direct managers, with the majority (74%) desiring at least quarterly discussions. Without a consistent frequency and framework in place, these conversations can feel unproductive or meaningless to employees according to the Harvard Business Review.  

In addition to developing a framework for frequency, it is also pertinent to create guidelines for timing and structure. Career development conversations should be given their own standalone meeting, or at least a leading spot during a check-in, to assure the priority to employees. Further, the quality of these meetings can be improved by providing managers with specific questions surrounding personal goals to distribute ahead of the meeting to guide the conversation and allow for the growth of rapport between the manager and direct report. Applying this framework also ensures that the conversation is rooted in individualized, ongoing support rather than solely performance evaluation.  

Creating a program that fosters a growth mindset in employees and strengthens the relationship with direct management results in improved retention and strengthening existing talent.  

Invest in a Professional Development Curriculum 

A strong human capital strategy can help your firm retain and support the ongoing development of its employees in order to better meet the needs of evolving industry demands. Creating a comprehensive Professional Development Curriculum (PDC) enables employee growth and improves talent acquisition and retention by addressing both fundamental and advanced skill requirements from an individual to a firmwide level. It is pertinent that your curriculum is built with the firm’s culture, mission and strategic vision in mind to ensure alignment with the firm’s goals.  

The implementation of a PDC provides employees with the opportunity for targeted skill development and career progression pathways and enables firms to leverage their full Talent potential while establishing a foundation for agile and high-achieving teams.  

Create an Employee Value Proposition 

The war for talent has caused many firms to seek new strategies for improving attrition rates and attracting top talent. Creating an employee value proposition (EVP) strategy allows firms to better market themselves to new candidates and can be carried through to new hires and throughout the entire employee lifecycle. This strategy involves improving the speed of the recruitment process, focusing on the candidate and employee experience, tuning into employee engagement, and modeling a pipeline for proactive role planning.  

By taking into consideration the personal and professional needs of current and future employees, the development of a strong EVP strategy leads to improved retention, positive talent metrics, and successful hiring outcomes.  

Let’s Connect

To learn more about how Calibrate can help you develop a Talent Management strategy that will support your firm’s financial objectives while increasing and maximizing team performance, please reach out to Haley Revel, Managing Director of HR & Talent Management at Calibrate.