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Becoming an award-winning employer of choice in law

According to an award-winning practice, firms must “have the courage to do things differently to improve the employee experience”.

user iconJess Feyder 24 August 2022 NewLaw
Becoming an award-winning employer of choice in law
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Lawyers Weekly recently spoke with the 2022 Australian Law Awards Employer of Choice winner, Hive Legal, to understand how firms can best shape a positive work experience for employees. 

“This award means a lot to us,” said Melissa Lyon, executive director and experience designer at Hive. “It is more than just recognition of the great workplace and culture we have built and enjoy.

It is validation that our purpose driven approach and business model truly works to benefit our team and, we hope, it will inspire others in the legal ecosystem to think differently about how they can improve the experience for their employees.”


Ms Lyon said that Hive works to make the firm supportive and enjoyable for its employees — she noted that a positive and innovative culture underpinned by a supportive business model is essential to giving employees a positive experience. 

Ms Lyon outlined Hive’s unique pricing approach as a method to drive a positive team environment. 

“There are no timesheets, and lawyers agree fixed prices with clients based on value instead of time, and employees do not have individual budgets,” she said. 

“This encourages a much more collaborative workplace.

“Hivesters have always had the choice of where they work — at home, in the office or anywhere that works for them,” she said. “Having worked this way for many years, we appreciate the effort needed to stay connected as a team, have fun and to create an authentic and positive culture.”

Hive has developed initiatives that focus on improving the work experience for employees. Thrive@Hive is their personalised career growth program. It has been designed and implemented with input from their entire team, noted Ms Lyon.

The program includes dedicated career growth meetings, a formal mentoring program, pay review and salary setting transparency (with the firm providing details of the considerations and the data it uses) and dedicated pay review meetings, along with regular feedback.

“We have also created a Hive Guide which is a flexible, strength-based career growth guide focussing on a range of contributions and skills and providing information on how our team can grow their careers to make them even more fulfilling,” said Ms Lyon. 

She referred to the statement from one Hivester: “I love that working at Hive you have the freedom to create your own path, if there’s something you want to do, you can make it happen.”

Ms Lyon noted that they encourage staff to put mental health first, and they have introduced additional leave, including “pawternity” leave, religious, cultural and ceremonial leave (flexible public holidays), sorry business, and domestic/family violence leave. 

Hive has implemented several wellbeing initiatives, which focus on integrated happiness and wellness into work life. She said: “We also have fun along the way.”

“Hive has created an empathetic, innovative and forward thinking environment where everyone’s opinions and thoughts are genuinely valued and they recognise that health and wellbeing comes first,” said one employee.

Hive has recently redesigned the way they communicate with clients “to improve the experience for clients and the team at Hive”, said Ms Lyon. 

The HiveWay Project aimed to consider what would make work life easier for employees, which included journey mapping their team’s experiences — from receiving instructions to delivering advice and assistance.

This resulted in the creation of checklists, templates, additional know-how resources and document automation, and it also provided an opportunity for the entire Hive team to learn from each other’s experiences, said Ms Lyon. 

Ms Lyon quoted one Hivester on how this works for them: “There is seamless use of supportive technologies that improve communication and work efficiencies — Hive continually trials and incorporates technologies relevant to how we communicate and work to improve our team’s experience and workflow.”

Ms Lyon noted Hive is committed to understanding what matters to its employees and is dedicated to working together to identify, design and implement strategies to ensure they are providing a positive experience and the opportunity for all to have fulfilling careers.

When Lawyers Weekly asked Ms Lyon about the way to becoming an award-winning firm, she replied: “In our case, it’s understanding our purpose and fulfilling it by asking (and listening) to our team about what matters to them and having the courage to do things differently to improve their employee experience.”