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Running a business can be stressful (as Nick and I can testify!) with lots to juggle but taking time to show staff they are appreciated is vital to a positive culture and ultimately a successful business.
Small gestures can have a big effect on lowering staff turnover and contributing to the overall company brand and values. Here are some ways to show your team you really care, that have a low monetary value but a high impact:
Regular social events
This can be more bigger scale ‘away days’ but smaller more ad-hoc things can work better whether they be a couple of drink after works, an end of month long team lunch or something more active! As we get used to the post COVID world social events are even more important.
Ad hoc incentives
Looking to hit a goal in the month? How about end of month pizzas or a half day for the team to say well done.
Be a considerate boss
Staff want a boss who is approachable and who they are happy to take their problems too, sometimes professional or sometimes personal. Always be polite, say hello, say thank you, offer a tea or coffee if your making one and generally show interest in how they are generally getting on.
Flexible and hybrid working
Ok this is now an expectation rather than a benefit, but those who can't or don't want to offer it will be left benind. Some trust needs to built, but giving employees the opportunity to work from home costs nothing (save for investing in a cloud based CRM) and the flexibility can go a long way to helping juggle work and personal life.
Birthday off policy
Giving employees their birthday off work (regardless of workload!) is a great way to show the team you care.
Invest in your workspace
Not every business has a huge open plan office with high tech gadgets looking over the city sky line but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a great workspace. Consider things like slim line PCs, natural light, big windows, a water cooler, plants and an office radio (all things we have a Thornton Legal HQ by the way! – go us).
Whether you’re a manager in an international PLC or start up SME, it’s vital to show your staff you care about them, without them you don’t have a business. Falling into the trap of high staff turnover can be fatal. Look after your team and they will look after you.
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As a legal recruiter, I meet my fair share of clients and candidates and company benefits are often discussed with flexible working policies being a hot topic.
For example, recently I went for lunch with the HR Director of a large commercial law firm who was at the latter stages of rolling out their flexible working benefits and the following day I met a solicitor employed by a firm with 100% flexible working, if transparent targets are achieved.
Regardless of the individual policy on offer it’s essential that it’s bought into and encouraged by management. The major obstacle to flexible working going the distance is the employers trusting their staff not to take advantage of the policy. If it’s not ingrained into the culture (which takes time and effort) then there is a strong possibility it will be mothballed.
Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University Management School says “managers want people in the office because they want to see their little empires in front of them. It's totally about trust, and the incompetence of managers who don't know how to manage people remotely."
There needs to be a shift in focus to the end result, rather than the process of getting there, which can change from employee to employee. After all, delivery is what it’s all about and what does it matter if the work to get there is done from the office or at home?
To back this up Phil Flaxton, chief executive of Work Wise UK states "the fear factor for many managers is 'if I can't see you how do I know you are working?' Managers need training on how to assess a home-worker on their output, not their input."
From a practical perspective, businesses need to have the technology in place that allows employees to work to their full potential at home. There are numerous cloud-based working and video conferencing options available, so there really is no excuse for home working not to 100% reflect what is possible from the office.
At Thornton Legal, flexible working is a fundamental part of the business.
We have a policy that will allow employees to work from home regularly, safe in the knowledge that they have the full trust of the Directors. Everything that can be accessed in the office can be accessed from their home and it’s a brilliant system (we would say that of course!).
Recruitment is a results-based business and, as long as fees are coming in, we don’t give two hoots where the work is being done. If the fees aren’t coming in then, well…. that’s a story for another day….
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For social media marketing to be effective, time must be taken to understand each individual business, it’s approach, it’s goals and limits.
Every client is bespoke and therefore the strategy and subsequent content must be tailored specifically to the needs of the client’s business.
Here at The Social Desk, no client is taken for granted and each client is regarded in the highest regard. We pride ourselves on taking the time to listen; understanding the clients’ brand and in turn understanding our role as a digital marketing agency. We work closely with several our clients, including Thornton Legal, to manage their social media accounts. Each client account is approached individually to tailor to each specific clients individual requirements for their brand.
Developing the right social media strategy
For social media marketing to be effective, it is essential to plan a social media marketing strategy. Key areas to consider when formulating a strategy:
- Who is your target audience?
Aside from the obvious customer segmentation metrics, such as gender, age, interests etc, it is important to establish your target audience so that you can measure your social media ROI against specific metrics.
When considering who your target audience is, it is important to remember your current clients and their importance within your social media marketing strategy, as well as prospective clients you wish to target.
You should aim to be informative to current clients, keeping them updated on what your business is doing and encouraging them to engage with the business and become ambassadors for your brand, sharing and engaging with content. Your current clients are often an essential element in making your social media marketing a success!
For prospective clients, content needs to be a little more nurturing. Here you want to raise awareness of your brand, informing prospective clients of your services but also allowing them to see the benefits of how your services will work for them and making it easy for them to get in touch for more information.
- What platforms are most appropriate to your target audience?
Your target audience may not be on every social media platform. It is essential to research which platforms they are on, which platforms they are most active on and which platforms will generate the most engagement for your brand.
You want to generate engagement with your target audience therefore researching which types of posts generate the most engagement, on which days and at what times; are an essential element when planning your strategy. These vary across all platforms; therefore, it is essential to tailor your content strategy accordingly across each different platform.
- What content are you going to share?
Content will become the driving force of your social media activity and therefore should be at the core of your social media marketing strategy. Knowing what content you plan to deliver and what actions you want your target audience to take, is critical to the success of each social media marketing activity.
Social media content can be output in varying ways across many platforms. Some of the most popular outputs are as general posts across platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, as stories on Facebook or Instagram and as specifically targeted Facebook Ads. It is essential for any content you output to be consistent with your brand colours, fonts and messaging to ensure uniformity across the materials you’re outputting for your brand.
- When are you going to share your content?
One of the common pitfalls in social media marketing activity is posting at the wrong times! Many people put out fantastic content but don’t factor the times that they are posting it into their social media marketing strategy. In order to maximise the results you get from your social media efforts, you must do proper research into the best times to post content. There tends to be a pattern around what specific times of the day people are online and therefore you need to research the patterns of your specific audience to find out exactly when you should be posting content. This, of course, varies across platforms and across audiences therefore it is important to understand your specific audiences’ online behaviour.
- What results do you expect from your social media marketing activity?
You need to consider why you are using social media. Without a why, there is little point to being on social media! Many businesses want to ensure they have a brand presence and are active on social media as it allows them to target specific audiences relevant to their business. Social media can be instrumental in generating new leads for your business, driving traffic to your website and promoting your products or services. Social media allows people to engage with your brand, encourages people to build a community with your brand and allows people to contact you more freely, helping with your overall customer service.
By benchmarking yourself against competitors’ social media activity, you have the opportunity to assess whether what you are doing is working and achieving the results you would expect – it is always advisable to keep an eye on what your competition are up to!
It is important that you are consistently monitoring the content you are outputting. This allows you to see what is/ isn’t working, whether you are using the correct hashtags, whether you need to tailor times that you post and whether you are getting the results you expect. By consistently monitoring your activity, you can tweak your social media strategy and outputs accordingly.
Why outsource your social media management?
Many businesses, like Thornton Legal, choose to outsource their social media marketing management to specialist companies such as The Social Desk. This allows you, as a business, to focus your efforts on what you specialise in the most – running your own business! Here at The Social Desk, we pride ourselves on getting to know our clients and like to think we become an extension of their business by learning everything about our clients’ business and personalities and managing their social media efforts accordingly!
Here’s what Thornton Legal had to say about working with The Social Desk:
“We have been using Suze and the team at the Social Desk since October 2019, and we have been really pleased with the quality of content, the communication and the results. We’re a recruitment business and we rely heavily on social media for brand awareness across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. Suze has taken the time to understand Thornton Legal meaning the quality of posts, Tweets and photos are top notch and the engagement high and at the right volume. Outsourcing our social media to The Social Desk has saved us a lot of time and allowed us to focus more on our jobs which, ultimately, means improving profits. Highly recommended!”
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One of our most frequent conversations we have with clients, whether established or new start up is around how to write a simple business plan. Business owners often get bogged down with having to write pages and pages for a business plan, when in fact, a one page business plan can serve as business just as well.
The key is having clearly defined goals and breaking them down into more manageable targets and activities.
At ActionCoach Liverpool business coaching, we help clients with business planning using the 12-Month “Merlin” Business Plan
It is the simplest business plan you’ll ever create; Start with the end in mind…then work your way backwards to almost each day.
The process focuses on setting figures for revenue profit and employees as these are the baseline numbers for most businesses. The figures don’t have to be exact and precise at this stage, they just have to be reasonable.
How to write a simple business plan:
- Step 1. Goals - 5 years
What are your financial Goals for the business in 5 years’ time?
If you aren’t able to answer this, then you don’t know what your “destination” is, and if you don’t know your destination, you don’t know where you are heading or if you are heading in the right direction.
- Step 2. Goals - 2 years
To be on track for your 5 year Goals, where do you need to be in 3 years?
Think about what your business and team need to have achieved by year 3 in order to be in track for your 5 year goals?
- Step 3. Goals - 12 months
To be on track for your 3 (and 5 year) goals, where do you need to be in 12 months’ time?
Try to come up with a reasonable figures based on your ambitions and the best information currently available. You need to start being more specific as the time frame is much shorter.
- Step 4. Goals - 9 months
To achieve your 12 month Goals, where do you need to be by 9 months? Consider the impact of seasonality and “momentum” and all other factors known at this time.
- Step 5. Goals - 6 months
To achieve your 9 month Goals, where do you need to be by 6 months? This is the half way point. What is realistic and achievable and will keep you firmly on track for achieving your 9 month figures?
- Step 6. Goals - 90 days
To achieve your 6 month goals, where do you need to be in 90 days’ time? Take into account all known factors known at this time. How you start is all-important, so stretch yourself while being realistic. These figures need to be quite specific and remember there is only so much you can do in 3 months?
- Step 7. Where are you now?
This will give you an indication of how reasonable your plan is. Don’t be put off by setting your goals too high in the long run, just be realistic in the short term. After all, if you aim for the stars and reach the moon then you have still made a major leap forward.
You don’t need to write pages of detail for each step, start with creating a table with the columns of: Revenue, Profit, Team and then each of the steps as the rows.
By breaking down your business plans into time specific targets, it is much more manageable and one of the reasons that the 90 Day Growth Club is a popular event with clients.
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The success of Thornton Legal is built on the number of placements we make, the more the merrier!
Having said that, our aim is to give good advice rather than chase quick fees. We always ask our candidates if they have let their current firm know their concerns, before such a big decision as moving jobs is made. It is important to have those internal conversations first and only then can a fully informed decision be made.
So why do law firms lose good staff, often to a direct competitor? These are some of the common complaints that we hear:
New recruits should be set up for success from day one. This is a non-negotiable.
Lack of training is one of the most commonly heard reasons for someone wanting to move firms. Often promises are made but not delivered on. It’s no surprise that employees get fed up and contact recruiters.
Creating a positive culture is a must, our thoughts are that the right culture comes above salary in most cases. Who wants to come to work everyday into negative working environment? The culture of a firm comes from the top and it need to be worked at. Partners and Directors take note.
Work life balance
Law firms not offering some degree of flexible working will loose out in the war for legal talent. Click here for a previous blog on this topic.
Every firm should give employees the opportunity for advancement, whether that’s up the career ladder or additional training so their day to day job becomes more varied and interesting. No-one wants to do they same job day in day out for years on end!
The legal sector is going through a turbulent time, with mergers and acquisition happening on a regular basis. How these events are communicated internally go a long way to ensuring that employees don’t decide to move on to a more ‘stable’ environment.
Retaining employees is particularly important given the skills gap in the legal sector. It has been reported recently that the cost of recruitment is an eye watering £30,000 on average! So, please do your best to keep your employees happy, at least the ones you don’t want to lose.
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