Behind every difficulty there is an opportunity

How we helped a firm transform their employer brand
28 May 2024 by
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The Problem Scenario

The Managing Partner of a SME Law Firm expressed their annoyance at losing good and promising lawyers to larger firms. “We just cannot compete with the salary levels they offer. It is impacting our growth plans in terms of succession and while I know that I should not
take it personally, it hurts to lose people, especially when they know how hard we work to bring them on.”

The Solution: This is a familiar situation for many firms and accepted as a norm. But what if they did not? Our work with this firm’s management team ‘flipped the coin over” and asked, “what if you made a virtue of being targeted by firms as a ‘hot-house’ for talent?” What would that be like?

Setting Objectives:

After the initial shock at the concept, it was decided to explore how it might work, its benefits and pitfalls and what was needed to be done if it were adopted. The first step was to identify specific objectives. Three key objectives were agreed:

1) To identify the firm’s ‘virtues’ as a perceived ‘hot house’ for talent
2) Identify and address weaknesses in the firm’s employer value proposition to broaden the
net of candidates and maximise retention of identified employees
3) Build an alumni network


What followed was both an internal and external examination of the firm’s values, vision,
purpose, and Employer Value Proposition (EVP) from the perspectives of staff past and present,
clients, recruiters, and other stakeholders. The EVP, comprises the firm’s remuneration, benefits,
career progression, work-life balance, work culture and provides the narrative that becomes the
firm’s brand reputation.


Analysing the information gathered, what emerged was that the firm had a positive culture of valuing staff. Coaching and mentoring being seen as a necessary and valuable action by senior staff and experienced in behaviours across the firm evidenced in open communications and expectations. The firm’s vision and purpose were imbued in efficient and effective recruitment and induction processes. It can be seen why the firm was seen as a ‘hot house.’ However, remuneration, benefits and elements of work-life balance were seen as lacking.

Actions 1 

Addressing the problems: The next step was to address the weaknesses to help broaden the net of candidates. It was swiftly realised that widening the net of candidates without a ‘sieve’ would potentially overload the partnership and systems. So, an employee persona was created from the analyses, identifying essential characteristics such as, behaviours, motivators, strongest qualities, responsibilities, skills, priorities.

In attempting to augment the internal EVP, competing on salaries was accepted as a lost cause.
However, the research indicated that offering financial bonuses (to budget), gift bonuses, such as tech gadgets (monitor, earphones, etc.) and rewards for outstanding performance would all enhance retention. Metrics were established in the form of internal staff surveys to monitor what was and was not working as well as recruitment metrics including candidates per post, cost per hire, time to hire and turnover per position. The firm had effectively created strong, difficult to emulate unique characteristics. The employer brand had been created.

Actions 2 

Creating a talent pool: To address the creation of a talent pool, the firm’s internal EVP had to be aligned externally and communicated across platforms to create, promote, and maintain awareness of a credible brand reputation, creating a positive image for the firm. To do this the firm selected several platforms including its website ‘Careers Page.’ Here the EVP was contextualised for each vacancy. On social media the firm’s employer brand was updated showing the EXP to candidates and visitors. The firm’s Blog had content designed around the main pillars of the EVP, especially career progression and work-life balance. Partners and volunteer staff attended events and careers fairs remaining authentic to the EVP with ‘real life’ stories. Employee referral programs and the establishment of an alumni contact program opened the door to returning employees who thought that the ‘grass was greener’ and discovered that this is not always the case, even with promised higher salaries.


Simply put, EVP and employee branding is the process of getting employees on board with the mission, values, and vision of your organization which motivates them to help convey those messages to clients, stakeholders, prospects, and other potential employees. The metrics indicated reduced time and cost per hire since the project was undertaken. It is often the case that the process rather than specifics provides the rewards. It is an iterative process of commitment and consistency, to be worked at every day. Failures must be learned from rather than be a deterrent. Two years on the ‘hot house’ project has been a success and is still being enhanced.

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