December is here and that means cold fronts are sweeping across America. For lawyers, winter often means less daylight and more work.
Firm administrators may notice the elevators filled less with holiday cheer, and more with cold-weather coughs and hobo layering. The season is dusting off those dormant cold and flu symptoms at the same time as it’s encouraging winter gloves. Forget power suits, associates are donning power hoodies and unsightly wool leg warmers to survive impending snow.
Worried about the health and wealth-fare of your associates? Make these five gestures for your employees so that everybody looks forward to a comfortable, happy, and presentable New Year.
1. Attorney-appropriate attire
Attorneys are well known for their professional attire. Power suits and ties, and recently-shined shoes are just a few of the cliché clothing items worn by associates.
However, as the years go by and stress builds, that freshly-pressed suit you wore for the first-year interview has been replaced by yesterday’s wrinkled, worn substitute. In winter, it’s even harder to look your best. Snow requires waterproof boots and cold weather necessitates a variety of mixed-and-matched layering.
Although fashion is not a firm’s first priority, image and appearance may be. In a downturn economy, firms should dress to impress. So, look to your neighboring stores and ask for a corporate discount.
For their part, high-end clothing companies may be looking to boost sales. Fashion is a luxury item that has been hit particularly hard by the recession. So, the combination of increased revenue for the brand and decreased clothing costs for the businessman will be win-win.
2. Gym memberships
When it’s cold outside, people prefer to stay inside with a cup of hot chocolate, not free weights, in hand. However, exercise lowers stress, increases mood-enhancing endorphins, and sheds those unhealthy holiday pounds.
Encourage your employees to keep up with their fitness regime well before New Years resolutions by offering to pay a percentage of monthly gym fees. More than likely your firm will make up for the loss in revenue by an increase in employee morale and productivity.
3. Green tea
Again, hot chocolate is the cold-weather drink of choice. But, temporary sugar rushes followed by sharp energy downswings will do nothing for an employee’s work efficiency or welfare.
Stock up on green tea—full of cancer-fighting antioxidants and other medicinal benefits—instead of its sweeter alternatives. Green tea also helps the immune system fight off wintertime colds. Most associates welcome any free, firm-provided hot beverage, so the switch will only be noticed in higher firm health and vitality levels.
4. Entryway coat closet
You can’t fault a person for wearing knee-high snow boots into the office when it’s December in Chicago. However, tracking water or snow footprints across the hallway and stacking large piles of damp coats, scarves, and gloves on mahogany desks is less than ideal.
Clear out a space at the entrance of the firm for a coat closet in wintertime. Not only will employees be grateful for the space, but it will be a good place for employees of all ranks and positions to converse—even briefly—about the weather and other trivialities. It will give biglaw offices a more “home-y” feel and encourage communication and friendship among colleagues.
It’s easy to stay cooped up in your office, door closed for warmth, in the wintertime. Find a way to break open communication barriers with the simple addition of a coat closet.
5. Holiday spirit
Finally, with performance reviews, possible promotions, and year-end bonuses (or not) approaching, it’s difficult to keep up that holiday cheer. As a firm, make a special effort in December to bring back the bright attitudes with luncheons, holiday-themed snacks, or even decoration.
Holiday doesn’t have to mean Christmas or Hanukkah, for example, rather pinecones and festive laurels adorning the office. Make “holiday” a neutral term by instituting a friendly workplace competition where the winner receives plane tickets to Aspen for the ski season or a that coveted Hermes scarf.
Whether through office incentives or other (less expensive) workplace ingenuity, fight the wintertime gloom with some December-time good spirits.