Craig Wilson
Craig Wilson

Articles From the Team

Golden Handshakes on the rise – does the legal sector need to embrace this form of payment to attract top talent?

A recent article in The Telegraph highlighted the increasing rise of golden handshakes to entice vital / specialist / hard to find staff to join employers in this increasingly tight employment market. 

With unemployment at historically low levels and demand for workers remaining strong, companies are ‘increasingly being forced to pay joining bonuses of 15pc or 20pc of salaries to entice new recruits’.  This form of enticement, which was once the reserve of top executives and other senior staff, is now being used much further down the corporate ladder.

‘When unemployment was higher, companies could put a job advert online and receive hundreds of responses. But now they might only get tens of responses, according to Manpower’s James Hick – forcing companies to search more actively and offer bigger pay packets. 

“You have to entice people out [of their existing jobs]. It varies by sector, but typically in hard-to-find skillsets, you’re paying somewhere between 15pc and 20pc in an attraction amount – a one-off payment – [which] is not uncommon,” he said.

The intensity of demand for workers varies widely between sectors however statistics show that the Finance & Business Services workers remain in demand, particularly in London, the South East and South West. 

BCL Legal – opinion

The legal sector has seen a very definite contraction in the volume and quality of available talent, particularly in commercial legal disciplines such as general commercial / contracts law, corporate law, commercial property law and data protection/GDPR.

Law firms and in-house departments have a definite need for talent – as generally there is a demand for their services - however in this market the balance of power is firmly with the employee / job applicant, particularly in the disciplines mentioned above.

Employers looking to retain their staff are looking after them better than ever, and most employers are quick to counter-offer if a staff member is offered a role elsewhere.  In addition, with plenty of work available and career progression possible, most employees are happy and content in their roles, particularly those high-flying / high-calibre individuals most in demand. 

Sometimes sitting and waiting for the right applicant to come along is not enough, or even in the best interests of the firm/ company.  When recruiting quickly, or for a specific skillset or level of seniority, finding new and creative ways of attracting (and retaining) talent is worth considering. 

Whilst I wouldn’t advocate using a cash lump sum upfront for every role, there is definitely a case for making use of such payments in candidate scarce disciplines – e.g. GDPR – or difficult geographic locations – e.g. a relocation payment could be used here.  

Perhaps the ‘golden hello’ / ‘golden handshake’ - or similar ‘relocation payment’ - may now need to make an appearance in the legal sector.

To view the original Telegraph article please click here:  

For more information please contact Craig Wilson at BCL Legal.




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