Reflection in a time of constant change and expansion was not easy, but as the workplace was evolving, we knew it was time to make key adjustments to stimulate growth, enhance our culture and recruit top talent. But the old way of doing business is no longer sustainable, as evidenced in the national workforce’s Great Resignation. We wanted to share what we’ve learned with our ALA community in the hopes it’ll help you navigate this new normal.
The pandemic has affected companies in several ways. One positive change was more time spent focusing internally.
First, we needed to examine our company culture and acknowledge that burnout is a risk all our people face. We are in an industry where working long hours and taking minimal paid time off (PTO) is the status quo. The stress — which is already part of our professional landscape — was only amplified by working remotely. Using the resources provided by ALA, including Legal Management and virtual events, we took a step back to identify key areas that needed improvement to support our employees’ needs.
With the help of our employees, we recognized early that the main focus needed to be creating a better work environment that centered around well-being and incorporating physical health, fitness and mental health. We solicited employee feedback about where we could make improvements. With everyone dealing with many firsts, we encouraged conversations that zeroed in on inclusive and innovative ideas. Additionally, we established a collaborative and inclusive Women’s Leadership Initiative that continues to grow and support our female attorneys. Mental health remains a priority, and we continue to explore alternative mental health services to meet the changing needs of our team.
“Reflection in a time of constant change and expansion was not easy, but as the workplace was evolving, we knew it was time to make key adjustments to stimulate growth, enhance our culture and recruit top talent.”
We also seized this opportunity to build a proprietary customer relationship management (CRM) system to centralize data and implement artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to track success and better serve our clients. This CRM will provide vital feedback and improve efficiency by alleviating some of the tedious tasks that are distracting, rather than motivating, for staff. Aligning our values and corporate goals through new technology across all our business units is a shift that has shown to have a huge impact, and this will remain a focal point as we move forward. These pillars of strength will help us stay focused on the most important initiatives and attract high-caliber talent who share our ethos for execution and success.
Our evolved vision has also been applied to our physical space, with the redesign of the Portland headquarters. It now features an open-concept design without corner offices for a more inclusive and collaborative environment.
It is difficult to track the success of these new initiatives on a profits and loss statement, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. Plus, looking at ways to better our staff’s lives is the right thing to do. Most telling is the fundamental change we have seen in our team, with an increase in productivity, quality and consistency of work, as well as more sustained collaboration across all our regional staff.
We are moving forward with the knowledge that this culture shift is difficult at times. While we would like to say we nailed it on our first pass, that’s not the case. However, we remain focused on these changes as a core initiative of our firm. We have embraced the fact that “work norms” will continue to evolve — and so will we.