While large law firms tend to have dedicated human resources departments, at small firms, HR is typically handled by employees who wear many hats. Because you may not have an expert on staff, it’s not uncommon to experience a few HR hiccups along the way. To keep things running smoothly as you build your legal dream team, avoid these HR mistakes:
Hiring too quickly
Your time is valuable, so you may be tempted to hire as swiftly as possible to get back to your legal work. But making a poor hiring choice can backfire, costing your firm much more valuable time and money in the long run. When your firm needs to hire, set aside the time to recruit candidates and interview them with your best practices and vision for your firm in mind. If possible, plan ahead so you can start the hiring process before the need for a new employee becomes extremely pressing.
Not classifying employees
Classifying employees correctly is crucial to your firm’s productivity and collaboration. It’s also the law. Accurately designating employees as full-time, part-time, temporary or independent affects their eligibility for benefits and may impact how they are paid. To ensure your law firm stays compliant, review the current federal and local laws regarding other special classes of employees, such as interns.
For a better understanding of employee classifications, take a look at the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) sample Employee Work Classification policy.
Not updating the employee handbook
Your law firm can save time and avoid confusion by maintaining an accurate, regularly updated employee handbook. Use this handbook to answer employee questions about benefits, office policies, vacation time and more. Not only will you cut back on the number of times you need to answer the same questions over and over, but you’ll have a written record of firm policies should questions or conflict ever arise.
Not providing the proper training
Investing a little time now can save your firm many valuable hours later. By properly training new hires, you can build a firm that works cohesively. Without proper training, your new employees may lack confidence in their work or do things in ineffective ways. Training is a part of team-building: use it to build the best, most productive law firm you can.
Do you manage HR functions for your small law firm? What mistakes have you made and learned from?