How Lunch Can Slow Employee Turnover

Lunch can serve a purpose more important than getting you through until dinner.

Employee turnover is bad for business. You’ll lose clients when their cases are turned over from one attorney to another. Switching attorneys really freaks out clients in the midst of a crisis. You’ll end up losing fees and making refunds. It’s a nightmare.

Turnover hurts you in other ways as well. It damages your reputation in the legal community: people wonder why no one sticks around. It’s bad for your revenues, since you’ll spend gobs of time interviewing and training. It’s demoralizing to your team: they wonder why they should stick around since everyone else is rejecting the firm. Turnover is bad, bad, bad.

Stopping turnover is complicated. It’s especially difficult once you have a culture in which turnover is the norm. It can be tough to turn things around. It takes a long-term plan for repairing hiring and training as well as for making adjustments to the management systems and culture. All of that can take years and will likely require outside assistance.

However, there is something that you can do right now that will make a difference. You can do something different with your lunches.

Before I go too far with this, let me tell you about my lunches. I get very little time alone. Like you, I spend most of the day talking to one person or another about work-related issues. I wake up in the morning and interact with my spouse and with the two teenagers that live in my house. When I finish working, it’s back to spouse and teenagers. I’m talking to someone during pretty much every waking hour.

I like to escape for lunch. I have a restaurant I frequent regularly, and I have my regular table. I take a book, eat my sandwich, and read for about an hour. It’s terrific.

Unfortunately, my lunch hour gets booked up with referral sources and others a few times a week. It takes me forever to get through a book. I really love my lunches alone.

I mention all of that to give you some sense of how difficult it is for me to give up one more lunch, but give it up we must.

You see, your lunches can help you reduce turnover. I’d encourage you to take your team, one at a time, to lunch. Sit for an hour and talk about work, talk about your personal life, and ask lots of questions. Ask about their work, their life, their family, their pets, and whatever else comes up. Be interested in learning about them and building your relationship. Use the lunch to really get to know them.

Those lunches will go a long way toward reducing your turnover. They’ll result in employees who feel more connected to your firm and will be less likely to leave. They will create loyalty and foster an understanding of why things are the way they are. These lunches will serve you and your firm well.

Lunch meets lots of needs. Nourishing the relationship between you and your team can be one of the most valuable things you can get out of your midday meal.