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Solutions for Reducing Workplace Stress At Law Firms

It's no secret that trying to schedule personal commitments around long hours at the office induces stress in many lawyers and their families. How to cope? An article in The Society for Human Resource Management's online magazine (SHRMOnline) recently offered up a bevy of solutions implemented at various companies outside the legal industry to address employee stress caused by conflicting commitments. The article notes that the upside for employers of such stress reduction efforts is employees who are healthier, more creative and more productive.

One company profiled was PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), whose hard working consultants bear more than a passing resemblance to attorneys at large law firms. Managed by Michael Fenlon, PwC's stress management program features some innovative ideas. For example, two years ago, PwC restructured work teams so that instead of having one employee per client account, teams of employees now manage a group of clients. This way, if an employee is out of the office for personal reasons (e.g., attending a child's baseball game), other team members can cover for him or her.

Click below for more innovative stress management solutions in place at PwC and other companies that law firms might consider for their own attorneys and other employees.

PwC also actively encourages employees to take vacations and weekends off with managers actually getting reports on whether employees are taking vacation time (query: so could you actually get fired for not taking enough vacation??). And if your manager doesn't remind you, posters in the office with pictures of beaches pose the question: Have you taken your vacation? Fenlon says the firm's "take vacation" campaign reminds people that they "need to disconnect from work, spending time with their families or following a passion, not chained to e-mail or the phone every day."

And get this - if a PwC employee sends an e-mail on a weekend, a pop-up screen reminds the individual, "It is the weekend and important to disconnect and allow others to do the same. Please send your e-mail at the beginning of the workweek." Big Brother, but in a good way.

Finally, PwC offers a two-hour elective stress survival training course. "It helps participants understand root causes, how you react to stress and an individual strategy for managing stress," says Fenlon. 

Other creative solutions:

  • Concierge services (an on-site concierge that provides employees with services such as dry cleaning, oil changes, flower delivery, film developing, watch repair, eyeglass care, mailing services, restaurant food delivery and travel arrangements).
  • On-site child care
  • Serenity rooms (basically a converted office where people can go for a break, meditation, prayer or a private phone call)
  • Massage therapy (massage therapists come to a company office once a month to offer free neck and shoulder massages)
  • Wellness initiatives (on site exercise classes, health screenings for cholesterol and blood pressure, Weight Watchers meetings, and health-related lectures on topics such as acupuncture)

See the full SHRM article here.

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