If that describes the staff turnover in your estate planning law firm—it could also ultimately describe your law firm!
All too often we can look around at any business, law firms are no exception, and watch the turnover in staff happen over and over. Staffing experts have reported that replacing an employee costs the owner 28% of the first year’s salary! Staffing is worth investing some time, effort and systems to support! It’s not uncommon to see 3 or 4 receptionists in less than a year. It’s also not uncommon to catch the law firm leaders scratching their heads and pointing to the salary, or the job market or something other than the hiring and training processes they have available in the firm.
Even the smallest law firms need systems that cause the advertising, interviewing, testing, hiring and training steps consistent and easy. If a new hire comes on board and has the all-too-often “sink or swim” indoctrination – you’re setting the new person up for failure and yourself up for frustration.
Once you have advertised, with an ad you’ll save so you can use again, you’ll schedule interviews and handle those with a systematic approach as well. Once you test the person and make an offer, your offer letter is simply updated from the last time you used it. It’s easy to greet the new employee on the first day with an employee handbook—you’re never too small to need one of those!
Your employee handbook doesn’t need to be a giant binder, but it does need to cover obvious procedures you expect your team to be aware of. They should know up front how vacation and sick time are handled, when an employee is eligible as well as any other description of benefits you offer. A schedule of holidays for the current year and any other dates that your office will be closed such as days between Christmas and New Years if applicable.
Creating what we call an “Orientation Schedule” really spells out what the first two full weeks on the job look like from one moment to the next including meetings with the supervisor scheduled into the plan. All the training on specific responsibilities can be spread out so it is not only digestible for the new hire but also for the rest of the team! Resources and training materials can be created as certain elements of the training take place and it goes smoothly. The added benefit to such an organized approach your knowledge that you have done everything you could to help this person succeed—and you have a front row seat to see what kind of fit this person will be sooner rather than later.
By not hiring under the gun when you need someone yesterday—and taking your time, you can find the right person and add years to the length of time your employees work in your firm. Taking these steps and having the systems to be able to lean on will ensure you make sound decisions and that your employees will love what they do, add value for your clients and save you countless hours of retraining replacements!
Director, Member Services
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.