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Case Studies

Read about organisation’s experiences of the wellbeing at work accreditation journey

Dawson Hart Solicitors Limited

Dawson Hart staff outside the office with Small Business Silver Award
Dawson Hart staff with their Small Business Silver Award

Award status: Small Business Silver Award (May 2024)

Wellbeing Lead: Nicola Harding

Tell us about your organisation

Dawson Hart has been established in Uckfield since 1841. Our nine directors head a team of over 38 lawyers and support staff.

Our lawyers have been recruited both for their technical knowledge in their chosen area and for their communication skills, so that clients are assured of the best legal service, with a personal and approachable touch.

For clients that need a whole range of services and the expertise of several lawyers across the firm, we appoint one client relationship manager. This means there is one point of contact in the firm, with control of strategy and communication. 

Ten years ago, Dawson Hart was accredited by the Law Society for the quality of our service, and for the management structures and risk assessment procedures we have put in place to ensure a consistently high standard across the firm.  Our service, personnel and procedures are inspected and interviewed annually to ensure that we retain this quality mark.

The future…

We keep building on the specialist services we offer by recruiting talented and specialist lawyers. We also invest in technology and training to ensure we can offer a service which sets us apart from our competitors.

Our aim is to maintain and enhance our individuality, professionalism, expertise and quality of service – so that clients continue to come to us for City expertise without City prices.

Tell us about your role and role as Wellbeing Lead

The role of a practice manager in a law firm can be ambiguous. Its meaning can vary depending on the requirements of the firm, including its size, structure, affordability and plans. According to an article published by job site Totally Legal in May 2017, a practice manager provides “a demandingly diverse skills mix ranging from people management and marketing to finance, facilities and administration. Responsible for the seamless daily running of the practice, this is a roll-up-your-sleeves role that requires commercial awareness and first-class coordination and communication skills”.

A practice manager needs to be highly skilled in a multitude of areas: finance, compliance, HR, change management, IT and business support, project management, facilities, health and safety, security, and general office administrative duties. You must keep many plates spinning all the while keeping directors, fee earners and support staff happy.

As Wellbeing Lead, I am responsible for leading the rollout of wellbeing initiatives and promoting wellbeing amongst staff. The Wellbeing Committee is completely invaluable in achieving this. We have promoted men’s wellbeing, suicide awareness, mental health awareness, stress in the workplace and building resilience, prostate cancer, bowel cancer and increasing knowledge and understanding of fertility issues.

I am actively involved in networking and increasing my knowledge of different external perspectives and challenges faced by other organisations in balancing wellbeing and business interests.

I hold wellbeing meetings with staff to offer support and to ensure that an open communication climate operates within the structure of the business. I also signpost staff to outside resources.

Why did your organisation sign up for the Wellbeing at Work programme?

Promoting and supporting employee wellbeing is at the heart of business, we want to support our staff and champion better work and working lives.  An effective workplace wellbeing programme can deliver mutual benefit to people, organisations, economies and communities. Healthy workplaces help people to flourish and reach their potential.

However, wellbeing initiatives often fall short of their potential because they stand alone, isolated from the everyday business. To gain real benefit, employee wellbeing priorities must be integrated throughout an organisation, embedded in its culture, leadership and people management. The Wellbeing at Work programme is a structured wellbeing accreditation programme, which is fully supported by a friendly and knowledgeable team and provides a framework for us to base our wellbeing strategies.

Was there anything specific your organisation wanted to achieve through the Wellbeing at Work programme?

Within the legal sector, employees are highly susceptible to burnout and stress related ill health.  It was important for us to provide mental health promotion and resources to be able to refer staff to.

How has the programme helped your organisation in its employee health and wellbeing aims?

Yes.  The programme enabled us to devise and send out a wellbeing survey to all staff.  As a result of this survey, we have focused a lot of our wellbeing initiatives around stress reduction and mental health awareness. We will be sending around a further wellbeing survey this year to measure the impact that the wellbeing programme has had on all our staff.

Have there been any challenges along the way?

It is important to be proactive and not reactive.  For example, if we notice employees showing signs of stress, but do not tackle the root causes, then employees may become burnt out and still leave.  A challenge is ensuring that wellbeing is part of the organisational culture and is not seen as ad hoc or a quick fix, whilst balancing the business needs.

Has your organisation accessed our training offer?

All committee members have undertaken the Wellbeing Champions training (x9). We have four qualified Mental Health First Aiders.  Other training that has been accessed by the committee members is: Menopause demystified, Mental Health Awareness Training, Men’s Wellbeing webinar, Managing stress and building resilience.

Overall, what can you tell us about your experience with the Wellbeing at Work programme?
It has been a very positive experience.  It has allowed members of our staff to access training to increase their knowledge and to cascade this throughout the organisation.  Further, the structure of the programme has provided focus for our wellbeing initiatives

What are your organisation’s future employee health and wellbeing aims?

To continue to promote mental health and an open communication climate. To encourage staff to undertake wellbeing training opportunities to increase their knowledge and to ensure that wellbeing strategies are embedded within our organisational culture.

Would you recommend the programmes to other businesses? Why/ why not?

Yes.  The programme is well structured, the resources are excellent, and the team are friendly and knowledgeable. It is important that wellbeing takes a central focus within the workplace as from a business perspective, it increases productivity, staff retention and attracts new staff.  In a competitive business environment, it can differentiate you from your competitors.

Read about Dawson Hart’s experience of the Small Business Silver Award.

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