Health and Wellbeing is paying off for BAL Lawyers

Published on 22 May 2018

This year Canberra firm BAL Lawyers (BAL) were short listed for an international award for … health and wellbeing.

Not the health and wellbeing of their clients (although they assure me this is paramount), but of their own staff …

BAL were nominated as a finalist for the Employee Health and Wellbeing Award in the Australasian Law Awards. These awards are organised by Key Media – publishers of Australasian Lawyer and NZ Lawyer – and define excellence in the legal profession, recognising leading firms and in-house teams for their outstanding achievements.

BAL were shortlisted because of the ‘quantity, quality, impact and innovativeness’ of their employee Health and Wellbeing Plan.

The Directors and management of Bradley Allen Love Lawyers (BAL) are passionate about encouraging staff to adopt a healthy outlook and facilitate a healthy/work life ‘balance’.

“We are fostering an environment for staff interaction and bonding, rather than just making small talk in the tea room,” John Wilson, BAL Lawyers Legal Director and convenor of the BAL Health and Wellbeing Committee said.

This all fits very neatly with John’s areas of legal expertise of employment law, industrial relations and … workplace health and safety.

BAL started a formal program of boot-camp style, physical fitness lessons for all staff in 2006 and have been increasing involvement in employee health and wellbeing programs ever since.

In 2015 BAL started the ACT healthier work accreditation program.

“Our health and wellbeing plan is refreshed every 12 months and is broken up into four sections, aligned with the seasons,” John explained.

These sections are physical activity, healthy eating, social and emotional, and reducing alcohol consumption.

“Being acknowledged as a finalist of this award recognises the firm’s commitment to employee health and well-being, and that there is a focus on both physical and mental health. Mental health and stress are particular components of the BAL program, recognising high stress is a natural occurrence in a fast-paced law firm,” John elaborated.

“Each year we grow our plan to add new cost-free initiatives such as yoga, salad club, plus promotion of stress management techniques, including bringing mindfulness practices into the workplace.”

The most innovative part of BAL’s employee program is community outreach.

“Each year, we choose a nominated charity and all our fundraisers for the year go towards helping them,” John stated.

In 2017, BAL raised $6,500 for Communities@Work. The BAL fundraising events included monthly curry club, Febfast, Sweatworking and Trivia, Movie and Games nights.

BAL’s chosen charity for 2018 is Hands Across Canberra with a focus on helping the organisation support people who are living in Canberra and at risk of losing their job.

“Having a charity partner brings out the best in our team and allows us to feel good about the work we are doing,” John explained.

John says that the program has been successful because it has been built around consultation with staff on what they would like to participate in.

Health and wellbeing initiatives at BAL Lawyers include:

  • free health checks;
  • free flu shots;
  • mocktail night;
  • staff recipe books;
  • lunch time mindfulness;
  • lunch time boot camp; and
  • fruit bowls supplied in each section.

“The most successful part of the employee program in terms of removing hierarchy has been staff Boot camp. At boot camp there are no levels, you just pair up with whoever is next to you. The juniors of the firms are often boxing with Directors, and the administration staff get in the mix too,” John said.

The group-orientated approach to workplace health and wellbeing is a real point of difference for BAL Lawyers.

“The team approach to workplace health and wellbeing has helped soften the hierarchy between directors, associates and lawyers, and create a team ‘balance’ that is more about achieving outcomes, rather than who is in charge,” John concluded.

Well, there you have it, BAL Lawyers are leading by example when it comes to health and wellbeing in the workplace – their sweat is paying off for staff and the community.