Any law firm today desires to be productive and profitable. One of the key influences to increase your success is a dynamic culture with engaged and happy employees ready to tackle the day’s challenges. We all know that an unhappy employee results in work suffering and the possibility of them moving on to a new company.
However, there are even more issues facing the legal industry today than just an unhappy employee. For the first time, your law firm may be faced with potentially 50 years between your youngest and oldest employees as five generations now work together in the field. The workforce generations we see today consist of Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials (Generation Y), and Generation Z.
This interesting dynamic will likely continue to see widespread conflict when it comes to the expectations of work style, collaboration, preferred communication, and motivational drivers. An additional factor we have come to see is multitasking relative to work and life balance with each generation having major differences of opinion.
Traditionalists and Baby Boomers were exposed to a lot of hardships at a young age and therefore craved stability in the workplace and valued all opportunities. Generation X was exposed to the effects of this poor work-life balance and find work-life stability to now be an important part of their employment. They believe adequate vacation time and maternity/paternity leave are some of the necessary fundamentals for a job. Continuing, Millennials and Generation Z have had the burden of large student loans, finding stable employment, and rising housing costs impact their lives. Believing work ethic is 'just a part of life,' the younger generations are more interested in finding a career path that suits their "lifestyle."
These rapidly evolving changes and obstacles in workplace culture should not be overlooked. It is important that your firm identifies ways in which to understand the changing dynamics and be prepared to adjust the current culture to reflect the needs and styles of your shifting employees.
The communication and motivational drivers greatly differ between each generation. These descriptive traits can cause significant disconnects for your law firm and employees. Looking at these changes we know that gender, race, and age diversity in the workforce will continue to grow. Beyond these changes are the multi-generational dynamic effects on the legal industry.
Disputes or refusal to share credit with colleagues for lead generation and bringing in new clients may arise. You may find seniority employees are controlling over procedures from the younger generation employees beyond the strategic benefit to the firm. Due to the different dynamics, opposing generations are often not in-tune with a client's wants or needs. Faulty assumptions may also be made about the effectiveness of decision making between older and younger generations. Lastly, you may find that your employees prefer various preferences involving how they best communicate.
The differences between generations will play a large role in how they effectively work and communicate with fellow employees and clients. By understanding the differences and identifying ways that reflect the needs of all employees, your law firm will be able to maintain sustainability and profit.
In driving uptake and engagement across your firm it is important to recognize solutions and actions that will lead to further productivity.
Continuing to understand the changing dynamics of your workplace is imperative in learning to adapt and adjust to the everchanging culture and collaboration with others.