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Flexible work practices key to staff retention: Barry & Nilsson

Flexible work practices key to staff retention: Barry & Nilsson

Barry & Nilsson Lawyers implemented flexible work practices before the global financial crisis, which helped it attract and retain staff, managing partner Don Leembruggen told Lawyers…

Barry & Nilsson Lawyers implemented flexible work practices before the global financial crisis, which helped it attract and retain staff, managing partner Don Leembruggen told Lawyers Weekly.

Since September 2007, the Brisbane-based firm has had a nine-and-a-half-day fortnight in place. Under this policy, all full-time professional, support and management staff are able to leave the office on a rostered basis at 1pm every second Friday.

Leembruggen said that in the past the firm had tried to accommodate lifestyle needs of employees with alternative work arrangements on an individual basis, but had then taken the step to implement flexible work practices.

"The greatest measure of success for these flexible work practices is our low staff turnover. It's very unusual for a staff member to resign from the firm to work for a competitor in Brisbane," he said.

"We often have former staff members contacting us seeking to rejoin the firm - which is also a good indicator that we're doing something right. Last financial year, five former employees returned to the firm and staff also referred a number of friends and acquaintances to work with us."

More than 30 per cent of employees have flexible working hours - including two part-time partners, 10 of 22 senior associates working part-time and 20 administrative staff. The firm's recruitment policy also stipulates that when a vacancy arises the HR manager must consider the option of part-time or job-share arrangements, said Leembruggen.

"I think most firms are conscious of the need to try and offer staff a good work/life balance, but that doesn't then translate into initiatives which make it a reality. Our policies - particularly the nine-and-a-half-day fortnight - positively encourage our staff to balance their work commitments with their personal pursuits and commitments," he said.

- Sarah Sharples

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