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Legal Professionals the Most Loyal to Their Employers in the UK

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Legal professionals are the most loyal to their existing employers, according to the Robert Walters Career Lifestyle Survey.

The research reveals that almost seven in ten (68%) believe they should spend at least three years with an employer before moving on. This compares with an overall UK-wide figure of 58%, with fewer accountants (59%), compliance specialists (52%), IT workers (51%), HR professionals (48%) and risk experts (45%) believing they should stay with an employer for this long.

The survey also highlights that an interesting role is key to legal professionals, with 57% saying this is ‘very important’ to their overall job satisfaction. This compares with 52% overall and 49% of accountants, 41% of compliance workers, 57% of IT workers, 55% of HR professionals and 42% of risk experts.

Legal professionals are also among the hardest working – working 45.9 hours per week on average, the third highest amount in the survey and significantly more than the UK-wide average of 44.6 hours for professionals in full-time positions. Interestingly, working hours have risen across the UK over the past two years. 38% of lawyers now work more than 50-hour weeks up from 30% in 2011, which compares with a jump from 19 to 28% across the UK as a whole.

Colin Loth, Director of Legal Recruitment at Robert Walters, comments:

“The survey paints a picture of legal professionals as hard working and extremely dedicated to their work – as demonstrated by both their desire to stay with a single employer for a prolonged period and the importance they attach to having an interesting job.

“The fact that legal professionals don’t like to move around too often is indicative of loyalty to their firms but also of their preference to seek career progression internally. This is primarily because legal specialists like to build a career with an employer, find a niche that interests them and make valuable long-term contributions over a sustained period of time.”;

The Robert Walters Career Lifestyle Survey is based on responses from 1,420 respondents currently working across a range of professional disciplines (specifically accountancy & finance, compliance, operations, IT, legal, HR, risk, marketing, projects, sales, secretarial & support, tax and treasury) and sectors. The survey asked them a series of questions about their working practices and attitudes to their career.

The 2013 Robert Walters Career Lifestyle Survey provides a comprehensive insight into professionals’ working lives and careers. Through the 1,420 responses received, we explore what makes people stay in their jobs for long periods and why they might look to move roles, along with their working hours and specific preferences they have regarding their careers. Through these findings, we aim to provide employers with an insight into key motivations and aspirations of professionals currently working in the UK to help them in both their recruitment and retention strategies. We explore some of the highlights.

Lack of career progression causes professionals to change jobs

In total, 42% of professionals think they should change employers at least every three years and half of those surveyed say a lack of career progression is the factor most likely to cause them to move jobs. Only 11% say they would look to change roles on the basis of a disappointing salary review or lack of bonus.

At the same time, most say their career progression is primarily determined by their skills and contribution to the business. By comparison, fewer say the success of the firm, internal politics and their willingness to move jobs are the main factor.

Good work-life balance crucial to job satisfaction

Professionals rank work-life balance as the most important factor determining their job satisfaction, followed by the interestingness of their day-to-day work, remuneration and then achieving positions of responsibility.

Majority think their work is important to business

Around three-quarters think their own personal achievements at work impact the broader success of the business, with our results showing that higher earners feel their work has the most significant affect.

Overseas experience improves career development potential

More than three-quarters of those surveyed have either previously worked overseas or would like to do so in the future. Although interest in working abroad is strong, fewer than half consider it important to their long-term career development. However, the survey shows that overseas experience typically leads to higher earning potential.

Working hours on the rise

Our survey highlights that working hours have risen over the past two years, with 82% now working more than 40-hour weeks (compared to 68% two years ago). The majority of professionals also work outside office hours, with only 23% saying they never work evenings and only 30% claiming they never work weekends