Seldon Rosser surveyed a group of Australian-based Manager level BD & Marketing professionals working in the legal sector, focussing on their COVID-19 career experience. Topics included employer culture, the future of the workplace, future career development and more. Here are the six key insights we gained from the research.
1. Leaders Communicate Positively
Pleasingly, 100% of respondents had positive feedback on the communication from their firm’s leadership team during the pandemic. More than 70% said the level of communication has been “Excellent”, the remainder felt it was “Good”.
“They have shown a real interest in protecting people.”
“I respect how they’ve responded to the crisis. Open and communicated clear action that needed to happen to survive.”
This ties in with our recent CMO roundtables where APAC CMOs talked to us about the importance of the internal communications function and their own focus on team engagement.
2. Job Security
There was a strong sense of confidence with over 70% of respondents rating their job security at 7/10 or higher.
A reflection of the relative low number of redundancies in the legal BD, marketing & communications community (particularly when you compare to the experience of the GFC).
3. Should I stay or go?
Interestingly, over 65% of respondents would consider making a career move during this COVID-19 period. This is despite over 60% telling us they feel more loyal to their employer due to the way they had handled the pandemic.
This wasn’t a surprise to us as we get several calls a day from people who want to register their interest in a move when the right role comes up.
The main reasons people want to move are:
- a promotion
- new challenge
- salary increase
As one person said, “I’m concerned with how COVID-19 affects my career progression. Will firms be hesitant to promote”?
On the topic of firm loyalty, the 20% who feel less loyal to their employer since COVID-19, was due to discounting of their salary and/or hours to a greater degree than other firms in the market, despite a positive EOFY result.
4. Investment in Learning & Development
Over 60% of respondents told us their firms have invested in learning and development during the pandemic, with several people referencing LinkedIn Learning. It is interesting to note there has been little investment in L&D for 40% of survey respondents.
Topics respondents would most like development in were broader commercial and leadership skills; automation and innovation; strategy development – as one person put it, “professional skills based rather than working from home tips and techniques”.
5. Workplace Culture
Over 70% of respondents noted a positive change in workplace culture (the remainder felt there had been ‘no change’ in overall culture). Common reasons given were:
- More personal connections with work colleagues; “more authenticity, understanding people outside of just their professional personas”.
- Easier integration of family / personal life with work life.
- Increased focus on well-being.
- Increased openness to flexible working.
However, there were some mixed views on working from home (WFH) with just over 20% of respondents saying that this had made their personal experience of work ‘worse’ than before. That leaves a majority who believe how they ‘experience’ work is either better (over 40%) or the same. But, there is still a large number of people not enjoying what many see as the WFH benefits.
Some miss the office and others feel less effective in their role. As one respondent said, “an introvert partner group (like mine) can hide even more efficiently from each other via WFH situations”. Whilst this may impact how effective you can be in your role now, being able to influence at a distance is a skill worth developing as technology and workplaces evolve going forward.
6. The future of the workplace
Long term, 100% of respondents want a combination of permanent and flexible work, from home and in the office. Whilst the exact split people would prefer varies, it’s clear all are keen to keep the flexibility, choice and autonomy over where and how they work.
“The firm needs to offer total flexibility – if you want to work from home full time or part time – people will expect it.” And for many in Victoria, “I am very happy to WFH long term… so long as the kids can return to a school and care”!
This aligns with our CMO and HRD roundtables and surveys where senior leaders are also sharing with us their expectations of this longer-term shift.
It’s the mix which is important to people; most people do miss being in the office and seeing their colleagues in person – what do we most miss?
- Social interaction / Friday night drinks / Team lunches
- Incidental interactions – getting quick answers from leaders
- Meeting people across the firm outside of your direct team
“The ability to close my office door”
It was interesting to take a pulse check. There was a lot of positivity in these answers but it’s clear that ambition does not slow just because the market is in a slump. Many people are anxious to ensure their careers continue to develop during this period.
It is also clear that the Australian law firm workplace is unlikely to ever be the same again and when the crisis passes, flexibility and control is something employees welcome.
As ever, don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like to discuss your own career path.