Michael Byrnes and Jerome Doraisamy discuss the WHS issues that law firms across the board need to be aware of…
Wellness is core to our philosophy
At Swaab, we are passionate and committed to supporting and fostering the wellness of our people and our clients.
Our philosophy is that we employ the “whole person” not just the lawyer, the support person or the manager. Our staff are people first and foremost. The days of expecting people to leave their personal lives at the door are gone. It is inappropriate to expect people to take phone calls and respond to emails after business hours and on the weekend and to “keep on top of their email” whilst on annual leave and then not expect people will need to bring some of personal life into the workplace. In fact, at Swaab, we encourage our people to bring their whole self to work. This enables us to be a better employer: to foster happiness in our people, to better understand our people, to support or facilitate support from appropriate resources (if needed) and to create a sense of family and community throughout our firm.
Whilst I consider it is my obligation to lead Swaab’s passion and commitment to supporting and fostering wellness, the majority of our people are alongside me on this initiative and in fact, suggest many of the wellness initiatives we have implemented across the firm over the last 5 years.
When I became Managing Partner in 2014 we implemented the Swaab Brand of Service, as a framework for behaviour. It serves as a reminder to all of us about how we interact and respond to each other both inside and outside our firm. Everyone has embraced the philosophy and it is certainly setting an even higher standard of service – we meet our colleague’s needs as well as meeting the needs of our clients.
In recent months:
- we have held a number of workshops with our people to determine the top five Minds Count Foundation psychological well-being guidelines we as a firm would like to focus on for 2019
- we have gathered feedback and work-shopped practical ways to ensure we maintain our fantastic culture, foster wellness and facilitate a positive employee experience at Swaab
- we have overhauled some of our own internal references to ensure we are promoting good and healthy living and lifestyle
- I have spoken openingly in a CLE forum about our wellness initiatives we have rolled out at Swaab, what has worked and what has not worked as well as we might have hoped
- I have become a WGEA Pay Equity Ambassador, having signed the pledge to commit to improving gender equality
- I have given an interview (soon to be published on Bench TV) of my own personal reflection regarding wellness in my own career over the last 18 years.
Sharing knowledge and experience regarding wellness is very powerful because it is still a concept that carries a stigma and with which pockets of our industry have to get comfortable. In the law, we have come a long way since the inception of Minds Count Foundation (formerly known as the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation). However, we still have a way to go – and approaching this issue as a collective, rather than a competition, will deliver a much more robust, credible and accountable platform for wellness in the law.
I love to talk to people about wellness, whether it is in the legal profession or in another profession. If you want to discuss wellness with me, I am only a phone call away and would love to chat.