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For A Happier In-House Team, Do This One Thing
Focus on an aspect of legal operations that's proven to bolster job satisfaction: workload distribution and communication. It's easy with a capacity dashboard!
A study of nearly 800 employees from eight multinational organizations brings a powerful lesson for Legal Departments.
Researchers set out to determine what makes the most impact on job satisfaction. They explored five factors: specialization, staff strength, role alignment, perception of workload balance, and comparison of workload.
What they found, as published by the science journal Heliyon: The two biggest predictors of job satisfaction were:
- perception of workload balance; and
- comparison of workload.
(The impact of the only other statistically significant factor, role alignment, still lagged the correlation of these two by 40 percent.)
In other words, it’s not always about the work itself: It’s about feeling like everyone is in the same proverbial boat.
This finding is particularly relevant for lawyers – who run the highest risk of occupational stress, a known tie to burnout – and especially for Legal Departments, which often operate without accessible visibility into who’s doing what.
When we get immersed in our own projects, it’s easy to imagine others have a lighter load, and in today’s remote and hybrid environments, getting siloed is far too common. Serving as in-house counsel is hard enough: You don’t need to add low morale, burnout or unwanted attrition to your stressors.
Put this science to work for you and focus on an aspect of legal operations proven to bolster job satisfaction: workload distribution and communication.
This need not be arduous; in house legal department software, like Xakia, can help you both create visibility into every team member’s workload and ensure work is evenly distributed (and no one is buried).
Consider these core components for your legal capacity dashboard:
You need a fast, clear way to see who has capacity – and a spreadsheet or list of matters isn’t likely to provide it. You should be able to see at a glance who has room…and who doesn’t. We like a traffic light system (green means go for more matters; red means stop).
An effective capacity dashboard will show not just the total number of projects on each team member’s plate, but also convey the deadlines involved: How much of this work is due in the next week? The next month? This will help you spot conflicting deadlines, plan for absences and perhaps even identify windows to work on more long-term strategic projects.
Type of work
Is John taking all of the high-profile, high-stakes work, while Jane is stuck with simple, small matters? Are complex matters going to junior lawyers who may not have the right experience or training? Workload management isn’t just about keeping everyone busy; it’s about matching work to the right resources, too.
Who is working on your most significant projects – the matters that will mean the most to your CEO and board? Do they have the resources they need? Who is available to serve as backup?
Ideally, your capacity dashboard could be viewed in tandem with your Intake & Triage, so that as legal requests come in, they can be routed to the best-suited team member.
Legal matter management software can help you get a clear understanding of team capacity
Finally, recall that while “perception of workload balance” was the no. 1 factor for job satisfaction, it was followed closely by “comparison of workload.” While some aspects of your dashboard may be reserved for senior management, it is critical to provide some visibility across the Legal Department – and to help everyone understand you’re in this together.
In-house legal matter management software is your first stop for addressing both factors. Just make sure it has a capacity dashboard with traffic lights and you will be well placed to address workplace satisfaction! To learn how Xakia's legal analytics software can help you gain a clear understanding of team capacity, get in touch with one of our friendly consultants today for a demo, or sign up for a 14-day free trial.