Back in April, we presented you with a list of five reasons why your law firm should consider implementing a wellness program. So, what would a wellness program look like in practice at your practice?
Not being the sort to walk away from a challenge, we began doing our research on the types of wellness programs that have been successful within law firms and in general corporate settings.
Ultimately, each program is intended to reduce stress. Whether the focus is financial stress, relationship stress, legal stress, work stress, or just overall stress, the fact is that easing a person’s daily worries can go a long way toward helping them live a healthier life. And since healthier employees tend to be more productive employees, it’s hard to find a downside to implementing one or more of these programs.
#1: Legal services plans
It may seem odd to suggest that a law firm offer its employees a legal services plan but hear us out on this one. No matter who you are or what profession you’re in, it’s hard to go through life without some sort of legal pressure. Perhaps one of your employees is locked in a property-line dispute with her neighbor. Maybe someone else needs a contract written to cover an investment. Whatever the issue, the truth is that legal issues are stressful, in part because they are so expensive to take care of.
In the law firm setting, employee legal problems can take an additional toll. Specifically, there is a natural tendency for employees (attorneys and non-attorneys alike) to turn to each other for purposes of solving personal legal issues. This can be a drain on time and resources. Some employees may feel obligated to assist with a co-worker’s personal legal problems, even if that means they have to work longer hours or delve into an area of the law they’re unfamiliar with. If legal “favors” are sought too frequently, it can be a real drain on morale.
All of this stress can be alleviated by offering employees a legal services plan as a benefit of employment. Not only will it take care of the financial stress and worry that accompanies any legal problem, but it will take the onus off your attorneys to solve the problems of their co-workers.
#2: Employee Assistance Programs (“EAPs”)
Just about every employee has personal issues outside of work that impact their ability to be effective in their job. Indeed, in the law firm setting, things can be so stressful that a person’s work takes a direct toll on their personal relationships outside the office. Employee Assistance Programs or “EAPs” are designed to mitigate these problems.
EAPs provide things like family counseling, crisis counseling, and financial counseling. Basically, they offer a host of services that help firm employees deal with personal problems as they arise. Again, by relieving this sort of stress, employees can be more focused on work during the hours they are there.
#3: Mindfulness and meditation
Yes, we know. Some of the old-guard attorneys will scoff when you bring up the idea of offering mindfulness/meditation workshops at the firm. Hopefully, they will listen when you tell them that practicing mindfulness is a great way for employees to prevent stress, increase emotional wellness, and increase concentration.
Mindfulness, or the practice of concentrating only on the present moment, can be achieved through meditation. And if you think this sort of practice doesn’t belong in the law firm or corporate environment, think again. The insurance company, Aetna, implemented a mindfulness/meditation wellness program. It found that the program saved the company approximately $2,000 per employee just in healthcare costs. It also enjoyed a $3,000 per employee gain in productivity. Think the partners will start listening now?
A related (yet more physical) practice is yoga. Hiring a corporate yoga teacher can work wonders for not only helping employees achieve mindfulness but for relaxing and strengthening their bodies at the same time. As an added benefit, yoga tends to be very popular with young professionals. Thus, having a regular yoga program in the office may inadvertently boost recruiting efforts.
#5: Sports teams
Finally, a good old-fashioned firm sports team can also be a healthy part of your wellness program. Team sports such as softball or basketball can absolutely relieve stress. They can also enhance skills that are important to any legal team: competition, discipline, and communication among them.
Just make sure that your sports teams are inclusive. They can have a negative impact on the workplace if lesser skilled players are chastised or certain individuals are not invited to play. Another good way to foster comradery from sports teams is to invite non-players to show up at games to cheer on their colleagues.
What wellness initiatives has your law firm tried? What worked and (dare we ask) what didn’t? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.