With great power comes great responsibility – and this is most certainly the case in the context of the legal profession. As a solicitor, you have the knowledge and ability to seek justice for people across many areas, and it is therefore a noble profession and one to be proud of.
However, the downside of having a job that allows you to make a real difference in the lives of others, is that it comes with its fair share of emotional stress, long hours and demanding clients.
Research has indicated that close to 66 percent of solicitors experience high levels of work-related stress, while three quarters believe that stress management has become a major issue within the profession.
What’s more startling, is that the effects of a career in law on an individual’s mental health can become apparent even before they begin practicing. A 2019 survey – carried out ever before the global pandemic heaped further stress and strain onto already frazzled practitioners – revealed that 93 percent of respondents, including students, graduates, trainee solicitors and solicitors up to five years’ qualified, felt stressed out by the industry, with almost half admitting to experiencing poor mental health.
So, with the odds seemingly stacked against legal professionals, how do we begin to turn the tide in favour of improved mental health? A great place to start is by promoting wellbeing in the workplace. Read on for five key tips on how to get the ball rolling on this crucial strategy.
Review your existing workplace culture
The culture of a workplace incorporates many elements, from a company’s identity and ethos to the work practises they employ. However, in order to stay relevant to any changes a business undergoes over the years, a culture statement should be regularly reviewed and updated when necessary.
It should also be tweaked to include improved measures for wellness in the workplace, particularly given the post-pandemic professional world we currently spend the majority of our time residing in.
This can be achieved by creating a culture in which employees feel valued as human beings and one that prioritises the mental and physical health of the team. Open lines of communication, active listening, compassionate leadership, and shunning unrealistic deadlines all form part of a culture that places emphasis on the welfare of the workforce.
Furthermore, actively displaying such concern and appreciation translates to motivation in the ranks, which has a knock-on effect on general workplace satisfaction, morale and emotional wellbeing.
Encourage a healthy lifestyle during work hours
Late nights and long hours are often par for the course when it comes to a solicitor’s working day, which can leave little time for exercise and planning healthy meals. But what if you could encourage employees to embrace a healthy lifestyle during on-the-clock time?
There are numerous ways this can be achieved to promote wellbeing at work. Here is a short selection:
- Implement a ‘Lunch Time – Munch Time!’ rule, meaning each team member must switch off and chow down once lunch rolls around. Desk dining is not allowed!
- Offer ‘bike to work’ and ‘walk to work’ incentives for those that opt to get some early morning miles in.
- Introduce an office ‘treat day’, where lunch is brought in for the entire team from a local healthy eatery.
- Organise regular team building sessions that involve taking part in yoga classes, Pilates sessions or meditation exercises.
- ‘Walking meetings’, as favoured by the likes of Steve Jobs and Sigmund Freud, can be a great way to combine exercise with productivity, so why not give them a try?
It’s a well-known fact that regular exercise and eating well can naturally boost our mood, so encouraging these practises at work seems like a win-win situation.
Lead by example
A firm with strong leadership will naturally foster a robust team. However, it is imperative that this show of strength translates to every area of the business, and in particular, to any workplace wellbeing initiatives that are implemented.
If those in a position of seniority are not seen to get involved or take the programme seriously, it is highly unlikely that employees will pay much heed.
Aside from rolling the sleeves up and taking part, company leaders also have a responsibility to be present in other areas. For example, partners, directors and managers should be vocal about having an open-door policy when it comes to their team and any difficulties they may be facing. If employees believe they can confide in a leader regarding any work-related stress and anxiety, they will automatically feel more at ease.
Taking this up a notch by encouraging those employees to take the necessary time out if they feel their mental wellbeing is being compromised, will highlight a solid support system that filters down from the very top.
Offer flexible working options
The coronavirus pandemic taught us many things, one being that the world will not stop turning if employees don’t show up at the office.
After two years of people across the globe working on a mostly remote basis, the benefits of such a flexible model have become clear. So long torturous commutes! Hello healthy work/life balance! While the notion of working from home was unheard of for many solicitors before the COVID crisis, it has now become apparent that not only can it be done, but it can also have a positive effect on productivity.
Offering employees the option to embrace hybrid working opens up new possibilities that may not previously have been available to time-poor solicitors. From more face-time with their families to less time spent stressing in a stuffy office, a flexible working environment can have numerous advantages in terms of the mental and emotional wellbeing of teams.
Get strategic with your Feng Shui
Feng Shui, with its emphasis on natural elements such as light, greenery and water, creates a sense of calm within an environment. It may seem like a frivolous, perhaps irrelevant, manoeuvre, but embracing the principles of Feng Shui when considering the layout of your office can present plentiful benefits.
In fact, the simple process of moving a desk towards a pleasant view can reportedly improve and sustain energy levels. In addition, paying specific attention to the placement of objects within the office space is said to boost both productivity and efficiency.
As the ancient Chinese art of placement, Feng Shui has lasted the test of time and its popularity shows no sign of wavering. Whether you decide to DIY it by studying Google for helpful tips on the subject or go all-in by hiring a professional to rejig your office space, it is certainly worth giving this traditional method a try in the name of health and wellbeing.
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