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No one will be surprised to hear that attracting and retaining staff continues to be  a challenge for organisations post-pandemic. Unfortunately Australia has not escaped unscathed: national turnover rates rose to 9.5% in the past year, the highest level since 2012. Organisations are also struggling to attract new talent with 8 in 10 businesses reporting not enough applicants responding to job ads and of applications received, 59% lacked the appropriate skills and qualifications. Pairing these alarming statistics with an unemployment rate of 3.4% suggests that rather than a 'Great Resignation', Australia is experiencing a 'Great Refusal'. Refusal to work in jobs that don't make us happy, measure up to personal values or suit post-pandemic lifestyles. 

Legal teams have not been exempt from this. Skill shortages in the legal profession have plagued the Australian market for years and has  been exacerbated by current market conditions, creating a draft season for legal talent unlike any other. 

To delve deeper into this topic, Ashurst Advance Reach, together with ACC Australia, ran a series of roundtable sessions around the country to explore how to best retain and attract key talent. The sessions were attended by participants from in-house teams in organisations of varying sizes, operating across government, infrastructure, energy, oil & gas, mining, insurance, banking & finance, professional services, IT and marketing sectors.

What makes our star players want to leave?

Participants at the roundtable sessions were asked to complete a short survey rating the top three barriers to retention experienced in their teams in the past six months.

On the east coast, the top two barriers to retention were a high volume of work and opportunities for career growth/promotion offered by other organisations. The third barrier in Sydney was work that was not aligned to skillsets; while in Melbourne it was work/life balance.

In Perth salary expectations were the biggest barrier to retention, followed by promotion being offered elsewhere and reward and recognition practices. Perth participants pointed to the fact that the local market is very hot at the moment, leading junior lawyers to often come into a recruitment process with extremely high salary expectations.

Other issues resonating with all roundtable participants were access to flexible work arrangements, work that is not challenging or interesting, and challenging corporate culture and/or environments.

And what makes star players want to stay?

For many of the roundtable participants, remote working and flexibility practices resonated as appealing factors. The importance of culture as a retention factor was also acknowledged at the roundtable sessions. As one participant put it: “People who love their colleagues and respect their managers are far less likely to leave, even for more money”.

While higher renumeration is often the play executed in the current market, various other (and often more important) factors motivate high-performers to stay or go. Now more than ever we need to think creatively about strategies to attract and retain the right in-house talent.

The full report includes further data and insights from these roundtable sessions as well as a survey of our national pool of Reach legal consultants. It compiles insights and strategies for retention and attraction for in-house teams in a post-COVID market.

Full report available here.

Ashurst Advance Reach

Ashurst Advance Reach offers premium legal flexible resources.  Home to talented and experienced lawyers and paralegals who shine in their careers.

Our innovative Ashurst Advance NewLaw division leverages flexible resourcing alongside advanced delivery, legal managed services, digital and legal operations to provide our in-house clients with seamless and holistic solutions.  If you are interested to learn more about how we can support your legal team, please contact Linda Grace.

Linda Grace

Head of Ashurst Advance Reach

+61 3 9679 3127