Addressing Staff Attraction & Retention Challenges Post-Brexit

The UK has long attracted talent from across the globe and every organisation should be considering both the long-term challenges and opportunities that “post-Brexit” presents for the acquisition and management of talent. Now is a crucial time to make informed decisions on how to attract and retain the talent needed to meet your business objectives. Avoiding the potentially negative impact of Brexit on your access to labour is a vital component of any contingency planning and your employee engagement strategy should be central to such planning.

What (little) We Know About Brexit

On 23 June 2016, the UK decided by referendum to leave the European Union. Brexit has led to many questions and a lot of uncertainty. The media landscape reflects the anxiety and frustration that businesses are feeling, 71% of UK managers believe Brexit will make skilled labour harder to acquire for organisations operating in Britain.

Currently, organisations are not equipped to make major decisions about their post-Brexit recruitment strategy, due to the lack of information – but that doesn’t mean you should delay planning. Responsible employers, through their leadership, must communicate clearly and often to their employees to keep them engaged and to ease concerns through such periods of change.

Retaining Talent Through Change

Many employers report that skills shortages are negatively impacting the prospect of future growth. The potential for skills shortages to worsen may depend on the shape that Brexit takes. It is only once the UK leaves the EU that we will truly know the changes that will occur within the UK labour market and what these mean for businesses, but employers do need to start thinking now about how to address current and potential future talent challenges, through the exploration of new talent strategies and the enhanced use of technology to bridge talent gaps.

With potential talent shortages post-Brexit, the candidates left in the market are likely to be highly selective about who they work for. Why would a potential candidate choose your organisation? How effectively do you communicate your purpose and vision? How does the experience of working at your organisation meet the aspirations, values and needs of the people you wish to attract, and how effectively can you deliver on what you promise in terms of employee experience? These are all questions that businesses should be addressing.

Future-proofing your organisation’s talent supply by “growing your own” is an obvious solution that will reduce reliance on the external market. Employers should take steps in facilitating internal job moves and rotations, helping ensure that existing employees develop awareness and understanding of different areas within the business, develop new skills and have a clear path to career progression. Upskilling your existing staff as a strategy not only helps address the issue of hard-to-fill vacancies, but also increases employee confidence amidst economic uncertainties.

Employers could also research what technology investments would be appropriate. Using technology for task automation, to mitigate post-Brexit labour shortages, could be crucial in addressing any staff challenges that your business may face. There is no doubt that technology is advancing at a fast pace and, with that, there is great interest in using it to improve productivity and efficiency. With technology, there is an opportunity for employers to get ahead of the curve and improve employee engagement and productivity, especially in highly competitive, low margin industries.

The possible end of the free movement of labour, due to Brexit, may lead to shortages of workers, of all skill levels, across multiple sectors. Employers need to review their recruitment and talent approaches now to mitigate such negative impacts. Doing so can also effectively enhance the employer brand and boost productivity, whilst simultaneously future proofing your access to labour.

Why Enhancing Employee Engagement Has Never Been So Important

Organisations are inevitably finding it more challenging to attract and retain talent. Your people are your most important asset and you need to ensure that you recognise the value of your people. All employers should look to take additional steps to recognise and communicate the value of their people and align this to future business goals. It has never been more important to demonstrate leadership in your business.

What do you need to do now? Undertake a risk assessment, demonstrate responsible leadership and put together robust communication and change management plans. In addition, you must consider the projected impact which economic changes may have on staff reward and incentives packages and the continual challenges of attracting and retaining world-class talent to remain competitive in a global economy. In short, you need to engage with your workforce of the future – NOW!

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