In a recent post on Trendlines, Gary Boomer held forth on the staffing crisis in our profession. Succinct and to the point, Boomer lists four reasons. While all four are valid, my experience over the past five years has identified one as being most significant – Firms with low retention and high staff turnover work their associates too many hours. It’s not rocket science.
When you employ a business model that is predicated on billing by the hour, your alternatives to increasing revenue are basically limited to increasing hourly rates, or working more hours. The knee jerk reaction in most firms is to ‘work more hours’. Short term, this may work, but ultimately our young associates realize they have a ‘job’ rather than a career – and they leave. Very few of us ‘live to work’, but rather we ‘work to live’. When the Firm takes away your time, they take away your life. Knowledge workers are too savvy to allow that for long. Carl Sandburg summarizes it nicely.
“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”
We have addressed this as a firm, but until we address this as a profession we will continue to see the best and brightest leave.