This video (click here) about non-profiteer turned entrepreneur turned lawyer turned foodie is heartwarming. At first, it seems like an unusual look into a lawyer’s unusual life. But, at second glance, law firm professionals can glean much, much more.
Way beyond carrots or sticks, creative incentive systems have been proven to motivate employees.
Take, for example, a recent experiment that offered participants the choice between two rewards for a task measuring productivity: a water bottle gift item or seven dollars cash.
Unsurprisingly, 80 percent of participants chose the cash. However, when different groups weren’t given the choice, the results in productivity were less intuitive.
“The cash bonus didn’t have any effect on the speed or accuracy with which the students did their jobs,” reports the Harvard Business Review blog.
“However, those receiving the free bottle reciprocated by upping their data entry rate by 25%, a productivity increase that more than offset the cost of the bottle itself.”
Employees like to feel appreciated, so a mug given “in thanks” can often farther, when personalized, than cash. And, it reaps in-kind profits. So, find out what motivates your employees most—what products they like, what kind of non-cash incentives are desired—and then redefine your bonus structure.
One of the most effective creative incentives is employee engagement.
“Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals,” writes Kevin Kruse, entrepreneur and NY Times bestselling author and his latest book is Employee Engagement 2.0, for Forbes.
Many factors increase employee satisfaction and happiness: free meals, higher salary, or larger offices. However, only certain factors increase productivity and profits for your firm. One of these is pro-bono work or participation in charitable foundations.
Employees are more productive when they feel more attached to the work at hand—when they feel like they’re working for a higher purpose. What happens when lawyers love their jobs? They perform them better, faster.
So back to the video, Peter Kim, lawyer turned, discussed his life after graduation. In no small way, Kim demonstrates how passion can drive career choices. After graduating from Brown, he started by distributing food stamps in the U.S. Then, Kim joined the Peace Corps where he started his own non-profit organization. In the end, he went to law school, eventually joining an elite law firm in New York City.
Kim is like many lawyers. As a young person, or young associate, he wants to develop his skills in law, but in a meaningful way. The decision to become a lawyer was largely motivated, for Kim, by an aspiration to do good, improve legal systems, and generally develop public health and education across all nations—both in the U.S. and abroad.
Young associates, like Kim, are often motivated by the deeper societal, philosophical, and normative questions involved in practicing law.
As a law firm manager, find a way to tap into these lofty goals of young employees and conduct round-table debates or lunch-roulette surrounding philosophical themes. Or, ask young associates to tackle your pro-bono cases.
In addition to showing you how advocating creative incentives, like non-profit or pro-bono work, can work to engage your employees, this video also shows law firm managers what happens when you don’t properly motivate them: Kim now works as executive director of the Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD). Go figure.