Legal support for employees: Why it should in your C&B package

By Yuriy Kolerov, Head of Strategic Projects at Intercomp

War for talent has been a relevant theme for many years. Since this term was first coined in 1998 by McKinsey in his report on large-scale studies of successful organizations around the world, the issue of attracting and retaining talented employees has not lost its salience. Moreover, experts predict that the situation will escalate in Russia within the next 5-10 years. If we look at Rosstat demographic data, it is clear that we cannot expect plenty of educated, efficient, energetic young employees.


Yurii Kolerov.jpg
Yuriy Kolerov
Head of Strategic Projects
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*Data from the Center of Labor Studies at State University Higher School of Economics

Demographers look at the situation with the population in much the same way as HR specialists: the more young and educated employees there are, the better it is for business as this particular category of the population is the most productive, flexible and forward-looking, and these characteristics are altogether very good for companies.

From 2000 to 2015, the Russian economy benefited from 2 factors: not only more young people entered the labor market, but those young people were more educated. The group of 25-34 years old saw the greatest increase (while a certain decline was observed in the group of 35-49 years old). And HR specialists most likely took advantage of this situation.

What are we to expect in the next 15 years? If in previous years the economy doubly gained from the education level and the age structure of a growing group on the labor market, then in the next 15 years, it will have to pay a “double fine”. The pool of applicants will be reduced by approximately 10%. If we look at the age structure, then we will see that the greatest decrease is expected in the group of 25 to 39 years old, i.e. the group of young and productive employees. This decrease is expected to reach up to 5 million people.

Popular, original and actually necessary perks

Competition for talent is prompting us to seek new incentives. Statistically, the most popular benefits now are voluntary health insurance, compensation for meals, mobile communications, training and fitness.

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Companies offer all kinds of benefits to stand out on the labor market: yoga classes, massage rooms, game rooms and much more. For example, OpenDNS every summer orders an entire ice cream truck for its employees. Every year, Airbnb gives USD 2,000 to its employees to travel anywhere in the world. Salesforce.com offers seven paid weekends per year for voluntary work. Massage chairs are available to Atlantic Health staff, while Virgin employees may go on vacation at any time for any duration without the consent of management.

According to Glassdoor, 57% of employees accept job offers thanks to additional benefits, and additional paid vacation days or health insurance is more important for 80% of employees than a higher salary.

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Health insurance and compensation for mobile communications are already widespread perks, offered by many companies together with other benefits. We have worked out how to stand out among other employers in a competitive market and how to attract and retain the best staff. To this end, we propose to use a successful international practice by including round-the-clock legal support for employees in corporate compensation package.

Why including such support?

Like drill buyers do not need a drill as such but a hole somewhere, employees do not need health insurance and gym membership, but they need to be healthy and a good work-life balance.

A quick English-speaking Internet search shows that many foreign companies include in their compensation packages the possibility of consulting lawyers free of charge to settle personal matters. Employees worried about upcoming legal proceedings, returning defective products or the prospect of a summer without vacation due to an unfair ban on trips abroad are unlikely to give 100% at work, come up with great business development ideas and exceed production targets.

And what’s in it for employers?

Apparently, Russia’s labor productivity outperforms only that of Mexico. Now, imagine employees worrying about their personal matters as outlined in the previous paragraph. How can these employees forget about their personal problems at work and how can they get an opportunity to resolve them during working hours? Hopefully, achieving this would help them work more effectively. There are actually interesting statistics on this subject.

In 2012, superjob.ru conducted a survey among its visitors asking whether staff productivity increases if they are allowed to resolve their personal problems at work. More than half (56%) of the respondents consider that productivity would increase, while 32% are indecisive. What is most interesting is that when the responses of employees from HR departments were extracted from the total sample, it turned out that HR staff believe even more (60%) in resolving problems at work than other employers on average.



Here are some comments given during this survey:

“Personal issues prevent from working now and then. My mind is full of problems.”
Civil Engineer, Ufa, 53 years old

“People should be able to resolve their problems. They should be sure of their protection and feel supported.”
Senior Accountant, Ufa, 48 years old

“Employers currently want to see their staff working sometimes until 20:00 so people have no time for occasional pressing matters requiring attention during working hours … You know management, as a rule, does not stay until 20:00, and more often than not they are gone by 16:00 …”
Sales Specialist, Blagoveshchensk, 49 years old

And here are comments from HR managers:

“When employees see that their company management thinks about their personal interests, then they are happier at work.”

“People become more loyal and therefore work better.”

“People cannot be made to ignore family matters. This affects their family and personal life, and this results in unhappy employees in the office. Home front should be strong.”

It seems that it would be after all necessary to give employees the opportunity to resolve their problems at work. How to ensure that this would take as little time as possible with the most positive effect?

Hiring lawyers is not for now very common in Russia. Perhaps this is a legacy of the past where being a lawyer was not a respected and prestigious profession. Most people do not know how to choose a lawyer or solicitor (incidentally, do you know the difference?) and try to find solutions on websites offering free consultations. So often situations have already reached such a critical point that it is necessary to engage expensive specialists and personally attend proceedings to the detriment of work, of course.

It would seem that many legal services are available in the form of websites offering answers to questions, acting like law firms in almost every home. We have reviewed many popular resources and found that:

  1. These sites are not good with confidentiality. No encryption is used, data is in the public domain, requests are visible to all visitors, and often no private correspondence is provided.
  2. Lawyers’ qualifications are confirmed by a star rating, and it is unclear how and by whom these stars are assigned.
  3. The articles and recommendations on these sites are not updated while laws and court practice keep on changing.
  4. Free legal advice with pavement salesman is given on a simple principle: instead of resolving matters at the initial stage, they are brought to court to charge clients as much as possible for court actions.

In the States, there are four “civil” lawyers per thousand people whereas in Russia there is one per two thousand, while at the same time our fellow citizens are becoming more legally savvy and increasingly willing to defend their rights.

We are certain that by giving your staff the opportunity to get free consultations with professional lawyers, you will be able to quickly resolve their personal difficulties before they turn into serious problems requiring them to take some days off work, read legal forums during working hours, and be stressed, which can result in poor health, illnesses and absence. Preventing these consequences is wiser that having to use medical insurance, additional days off and easy credit terms.

By offering legal support to their employees, companies give them, on the one hand, the opportunity to solve their personal problems – in any case some of their problems – during working hours. And on the other hand, they minimize the time that employees would have to spend on resolving their problems. This is basically a win-win situation.