If you search any of the top 100 law firms and add "wellbeing" after their name I can more or less guarantee that for almost all of them, you’ll come up with something. Maybe they have a member of staff with specific responsibility for wellbeing, or they've brought in external wellbeing experts to train their staff and develop policy or they’ve become involved with the Barclays, Pinsent Masons and Addleshaw Goddard initiative, the Mindful Business Charter. Whatever it is, wellbeing is big and getting bigger, which is not really surprising as it’s a "win-win" solution on so many different levels: in relation to employees work/life balance and stress management, through to attracting and retaining the best staff and improving productivity and profitability.
Done with real and ongoing commitment rather than as a half-hearted box-ticking lip-service exercise the potential is life and business changing.
With the game changer which is COVID-19 having been thrown at law firms, economic survival, which may not have previously been an issue, is no longer a given. At such times, wellbeing is in fact more important than ever and it should remain a fundamental core issue, with people struggling with working from home, with the blurring of the work/life balance and managing the overlapping commitments of work, the stresses and strains of family life and relationship, together with educating and entertaining the children at home. The plight of the young professional with a full-time working partner and school age children is of course especially problematical and concerning. And all this in the context of life and death fears about COVID 19 and the worries over a premature return to work.
As a basic start-point, the NHS has a very simple and sensible web page on mental wellbeing while staying at home. It contains 12 suggestions. Suggestion no 7, for example, says: “Do not stay glued to the news. Try to limit the time you spend watching, reading or listening to coverage of the outbreak”. Saturation coverage on TV, especially in the mornings creates, paradoxically, both tedium and fear, especially after months of nothing but Brexit in the news.
For very many law firms, the "why" of wellbeing is well known and largely accepted across-the-board. But getting, effectively, from “why” to “how” is another matter: how best to implement a wellbeing programme, how to bring about cultural change and fee-earner buy-in, how to avoid the problems and pitfalls and how to sustain it beyond year one are all vitally important policy decisions to be made at the highest level armed with the best possible advice.
These are just some of the topics covered at the Wellbeing Work Alliance’s Second Annual Conference on Wellbeing for Lawyers on 25 June. The conference will be held online and can be watched live or recorded. To find out more about the other topics which will be covered by a panel of leading experts from inside and outside the profession visit: http://tiny.cc/hv7cpz
David Jacobs is a barrister and a leading producer of training events for lawyers. He has produced over 1,800 events over the last 24 years, including face-to-face and online conferences, videos, e-learning modules, webinars and in-house training. He is the Managing Director of The Legal Training Consultancy (www.legaltrainingconsultancy.co.uk)