Spread Thin Britain – Legal Professionals Feeling the Strain

August 27, 2012 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
British legal professionals are working harder than they were one year ago, according to research carried out by Randstad, the UK sector specialist recruiter.

  • Legal employees say they're working the equivalent of eight working days every week
  • Four in five legal professionals say their individual workload requires more than one person
  • Two fifths feel more stressed by work than they did a year ago</li>

    In a survey of over 2,000 British employees , Randstad found that those working in the legal sector feel they currently have to perform the job of 1.6 people, meaning they are covering 60% more work than one person should be the equivalent of three additional work days each week. In comparison, British workers across all professions feel they currently have to perform the job of 1.3 people the equivalent of a six and a half day week.

    While one third of British workers feel their workload is suitable for one person, just one fifth of legal employees (22%) believe only one full-time employee is all that is required to perform their job.

    Tara Ricks, managing director of Randstad Financial & Professional, said: "Lawyers and legal staff have long been renowned for their uncivilised hours and strong work ethic and are remunerated accordingly to reflect their diligence as well as their skills. However, it's clear that the pressure on law firms' margins is taking its toll on workloads, and legal professionals are working even harder to protect their position in the difficult climate.

    "While keeping legal workforces as lean as possible may help many law firms navigate the choppy economic waters the UK is currently experiencing, it isn't a sustainable model. Making fewer people work harder can improve the bottom line initially, but spreading the workforce too thin leads to burnout, lower productivity and mistakes in the long-run not an end result law firms can afford."

    Workload taking its toll
    The rise in workload is taking its toll on the legal workforce. Two in five professionals in the sector (43%) feel more stressed now than they did six months ago, 39% said it now takes longer to switch off at weekends and 13% of employees are consistently sleeping poorly because of work worries or stress.

    Holidays unable to ease pressure
    Rising stress and work worries also mean that holidays are unable to provide suitable respite. While 43% of legal professionals have been able to take more than a week off work for their main holiday this year, nearly one in five (17%) will still take calls or check their emails while on holiday, and a further 13% will worry about what is happening in work during their time off.

    Tara Ricks adds: "Being able to take a break and switch off from work is vital for productivity for any role, but it's crucial that those in the legal sector are able to recharge their batteries, given the pressure they are under. However, the holiday season exposes just how lean legal teams have become since the downturn and it would appear this is rapidly becoming unsustainable. It's never been more important to keep employees motivated, healthy and productive by striking a balance between controlling headcount costs and operating at a viable level."

    Notes to editors
    The Randstad group is one of the leading recruitment & HR services providers in the world with a top five position in the UK and a top three position in fifteen countries including the US, France and Germany.

    In the UK, Randstad's business lines serve the public and private sectors across Accounting and Financial services; Business Support; Construction, Property and Engineering; Education; Health and Social Care; Interim Management and Search; Human Resources; IT; Legal; Retail; Sales, Marketing and Creative; Student and Worker Support and In-House and Managed Services.

    At the end of 2011, Randstad had 1,930 corporate employees in the UK, working in 255 locations. UK revenue in 2011 was 789 million. Randstad was founded in 1960 and is headquartered in Diemen, the Netherlands. Randstad Holding nv is listed on the NYSE Euronext Amsterdam. For more information see www.randstad.co.uk and www.randstad.com.