Ramp-up Your Retention Efforts to Combat the ‘Great Resignation’

By Jamy J. Sullivan, J.D., Robert Half



The Great Resignation. The Big Quit. Whatever you choose to call it, 2021 saw record numbers of employees voluntarily leave their jobs, whether for greener pastures or to drop out of the workforce altogether. And there’s no sign of this trend slowing down. 

Law firms and legal departments can’t eliminate turnover. Nor should they want to — fresh injection of talent from time to time is healthy for any organization. What isn’t healthy is a steady exodus of legal professionals with in-demand skills — especially since these employees will be tough to replace in the current, candidate-friendly hiring environment. 

What can you do to stop top talent from jumping ship? Here are four ways to improve your staff retention strategy in 2022.  

1. Be flexible 

In the pandemic era, employees aren’t just hoping for increased flexibility from their employers — they expect it. Research conducted for the 2022 Salary Guide From Robert Half found that 75% of employees would prefer to work either fully remotely or a hybrid of remote and in-office. Furthermore, more than one-third (34%) of home workers surveyed said they would look for a new job if required to return to the office. 

Supervising a dispersed legal team is challenging, but less challenging than replacing your MVPs when they join another firm that promises them flexible work schedules and improved work-life balance. After all, the pandemic has shown that employees often boost their productivity and lower their stress levels when given at least some control over their work arrangements. 

2. Prioritize career development 

Skilled legal professionals who feel their careers are stagnating will make the rational decision to move elsewhere. To retain these employees, you need to help them grow. 

If your professional development programs stalled during the pandemic, kick-start them now. Talk to your reports about where they want to be in one or two years, and then help them sketch a roadmap for getting there. 

Offer training in skills that have a high value in today’s market. Support staff, for example, will welcome upskilling in litigation software, online document management, e-filing and billing systems. And don’t worry that training your staff makes them more attractive targets for competitors. Focus on the things you can control and remember that satisfied leavers will become brand ambassadors for your firm — and potential boomerang hires. 

3. Upgrade your compensation 

The Salary Guide research also found that over half (52%) of legal professionals feel underpaid. Before a competitor makes your top talent an offer they can’t refuse, benchmark their salaries against the market average in your region using the Guide or the Salary Calculator. When weighing a raise, consider both an employee’s value to the firm and the costs of replacing them. 

Budget too tight for salary bumps? Bonuses and one-off payments are another way to make your best employees feel valued. Adding or expanding perks and benefits can also move the needle, but only if you focus on what employees really want. Some upgrades are almost universally popular — more paid time off, for example. Others are more specific to circumstances but can be just as impactful. A new parent, for example, may value paid parental leave more highly than all other perks combined. 

4. Recognize achievements 

When you think about recognizing employee achievements, you may think of things like bonuses, but not every reward needs to be that big. Offering warm words of thanks for a job well done and letting members of your legal team know how their work contributes to the overall success of your firm can go a long way in boosting your employees’ job satisfaction. Giving gift cards to a favorite shop or meal delivery service can also be a great gesture. 

Following these tips doesn’t guarantee you will hang on to all your top talent. People change jobs all the time and for all kinds of reasons. But by helping employees feel supported, fairly compensated and that they’re given every opportunity to grow, 2022 could be the year you turn the great resignation into the great re-engagement. 


Jamy J. Sullivan is executive director of the legal practice at Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized talent solutions firm. Robert Half offers contract, temporary and permanent placement solutions, and is the parent company of Protiviti®, a global consulting firm. Visit RobertHalf.com.