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Legal recruitment and employee ‘buy back’

70% of employees who are ‘bought back’ by their employers, leave within the following six months.
Employee ‘buy back’, a candidate being persuaded to stay by their current employer when they resign, continues to be an ongoing challenge for the recruitment industry. With a legal market that has been stripped of the vast majority of two to five year PQE corporate, commercial and property candidates due to the recession, buy back has never been more aggressive. Line managers do not want to lose their best people or deal with the disruption that their departure inevitably creates. With such a candidate driven market, there is a risk that they simply will not be able to find a suitable replacement. There is also often the financial impact to consider when your best lawyer moves on.  

What can employers do to prevent a situation where they need to buy back an employee?

Staff retention should be higher up on many employers’ agendas. Being able to offer the following in an engaging but challenging working environment, goes a long way to prevent good people looking to move on: 
  • Continued opportunities to progress
  • Competitive compensation with performance-related bonuses
  • Flexible working arrangements to accommodate a work life balance
  • Clear strategy/vision of where the business is going
  • Empowering and influential managers who lead by example

Top three tips on how an employer should handle a ‘buy back’ situation 

As an employer, you should always consider the potential consequences of expediting a promotion or vastly increasing someone’s salary, and the effect it could have on the rest of the team/business.
  1. Make sure you fully understand their reason/s for wanting to leave the company
  2. Don’t overtly put down the organisation they are looking to join; this will appear disingenuous
  3. Talk about what would excite them enough to stay (role, location, money etc)

Effect of the ‘buy back’ on legal recruitment

 Exceptional legal professionals remain in short supply and they are the candidates that every client wants to hire. They are also the people that employers don’t want to lose and so businesses are going above and beyond to retain these top performers, typically by offering significant financial incentives to stay, in some cases as much as £10,000 on top of their basic salaries. 
Unfortunately, this situation magnifies the problem of the candidate-led market that exists right now. The current lack of high calibre candidates open to new opportunities is resulting in far fewer candidates to select from when an employer is hiring. To compensate for this, we are being forced to become more and more creative with solutions to legal recruitment needs.

Pros and cons of buying back an employee

  • You have retained a good employee, at least in the short term, and minimised disruption to the team, revenue stream, client base etc.
  • You have had to offer something you previously may not have done to retain that individual, calling into question whether that person really deserves that promotion, salary increase etc. 
  • You now have an employee whose ongoing loyalty and commitment to you and the business is questionable. 
  • If word gets out that you are prepared to ‘buy back’ people who resign, then others may use that as leverage to better their own circumstances within the company.
You may find our Salary Comparison Tool useful when reviewing your internal salary parameters to help prevent buy back situations. For specialist legal recruitment services contact Adele Somers, manager at Michael Page Legal.
T: +44 121 634 8802