Three wellbeing questions to ask your employer
A career in law can be gratifying, meaningful and rewarding. At the same time, it can also be stressful, intense and filled with immense pressure. The industry’s competitive nature, high workloads and business model predicated on the billable hour is a recipe for burnout and stress. In a study conducted by Lawcare, 69% of the surveyed legal professionals said they had struggled with their mental health in the past 12 months. According to the University of Warwick, feeling valued and happy in your job is directly linked to increased productivity and improved physical health.
Most lawyers looking to change roles consider things like pay, job title and the partner track. However, whilst it’s clear that employee wellbeing is critical to success, it's often difficult to gauge a company's core values and work/life balance ethos until you're actually an employee.
Here are three questions to ask a potential future employer during an interview (or even your current employer) to uncover how important your wellbeing is to them, and how to spot any green or red flags!
Question one - Do you have any employee wellbeing programmes in place?
Asking your (potential) employer if they have any wellness programmes in place can help you establish whether their values align with yours.
A green flag employer would understand that mental health is incredibly important and woul have several wellness programmes in place to support their employees. These programmes can range from health insurance and gym discounts to free counselling services and a flexible work policy to help employees manage their work/life balance.
However, a red flag employer might try to disregard your mental health needs completely and would try to distract you with external perks like a compensation package, concierge service, a hairdresser and free dinner if you’re working late.
While these ‘red flag’ perks sound like the company cares about you, it actually suggests that the firm is insourcing specific daily tasks to keep you as close to the office as possible.
Question two - What personal development opportunities do you offer?
Both employers and employees benefit from personal development opportunities. Allowing employees to grow within the company leads to a highly motivated workforce. By asking your potential employer about personal development opportunities, you can see whether they are committed to investing in their employees.
A green flag employer will always provide you with different personal development opportunities. A few examples include mentorship programs and annual training budgets for each employee to use towards new qualifications or attend conferences.
On the contrary, a red flag employer could treat your individual development opportunities on a case-by-case basis. They may ask lawyers to put forward a proposal stating why they believe they need to develop and in what areas, and then make decisions solely based on the criteria that if the output value aligns with the costs associated.
While it’s crucial for personal development opportunities to align with business needs, treating opportunities on a case-by-case basis displays a lack of equality across the business - meaning some employees will be offered personal development training while others won’t.
Question three - What types of legal technology have you implemented as a firm?
Most roles have their fair share of administrative or repetitive tasks. However, a company that values its employees’ time and skillset should be leveraging, and looking to leverage, technology to automate repetitive, unfulfilling tasks. Understanding what technology is in use at a company and the technology in its roadmap will assist with surfacing how a company values its employees’ time.
A green flag employer understands that. They constantly introduce new technology and are always looking for new ways to improve their processes, and would also be open to any suggestions you may have. For example, a cost-effective employer would have all of their lawyers use Definely Draft to draft and review contracts, and legal case management software in place to streamline processes for both our lawyers and clients.
While on the other hand, a red flag employer might display a lack of awareness about tech and consider that their Microsoft Teams licence and a few other pieces of tech are all they will ever need.
Want to learn more about how you can improve your wellbeing? Read our article, "Five ways lawyers can de-stress from work" or Download our free guide; ‘The Ultimate Guide to Wellbeing for Lawyers’