HR, People and the Business Implications of Brexit

UNLEASHCulture2017 03 02
HR, People and the Business Implications of Brexit
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As Mrs. May, the Brit PM, puts on her red shoes to invoke Article 50 and lead Britain out of the EU she has little hope of dancing the Brexit blues away!  The weakening value of Sterling is being felt as compensatory price increases start to kick in on imported goods.  Rolls Royce has recorded an historic loss thanks to Brexit and a weak pound! HSBC recently announced the relocation of 1000 jobs from London to Paris, and UBS plans on relocating another 1000 staff out of the UK. There’s evidence too that farmers in rural areas can’t get the labour they need as the drop in the value of Sterling means less money to send home.


A recent Adecco Group and CIPD Labour Market Survey underlines all this as it highlights potential skills and labour shortages in sectors such as healthcare, the food supply chain, manufacturing and hospitality.  To cap it all insecurity is driving highly talented individuals from the other EU states in the fields of science, medicine, technology, engineering and many other sectors to wonder whether they can continue to live and work in the UK.  The UK government’s welcome to talented EU citizens who want to stay, many of whom have contributed to the success of the UK for years, consists of an 85 page form described by the Financial Times as a nightmare.


When we at HRN recently asked leading European and CEEMEA economist Dr. Daniel Thorniley what the current Brexit induced climate of economic and social instability meant for companies and their employees, his immediate response was – “Complexity and uncertainty!”.


Uncertainty will show which companies can produce Best Practice in HR


Complexity and uncertainty are a real killer and are not going away any time soon.  Negotiations to leave the EU will be protracted and hyper complicated! Uncertainty for EU nationals living and working in the UK and for British nationals in EU member states is now a fact of life.  There is increased uncertainty for businesses who located their EMEA and European headquarters in the UK. Uncertainty for those who have started businesses in the UK with a view on the European marketplace. And, uncertainty as to whether other EU states might seek to use this as a trojan horse to bring in their own restrictive labour market rules.


In the absence of any unilateral declaration on the part of either the EU or the UK on the status of foreign nationals and employees the current unsettled climate will continue. As Daniel Thorniley highlighted to us:
HR departments will need to show a lot of consideration for staff, and in how they want to retain staff and motivate them over the next 2-3 years. There are no easy solutions here and many companies fail in normal times to support staff given the short-term financial pressures and KPIs which have to be met. This time of elevated uncertainty will show which companies can produce Best Practice in HR. Sadly I think there will be more losers than winners in this engagement.


Daniel Thorniley will be presenting live on the Main Stage at HR Tech World in London on The Implications of Brexit for HR21 & 22 March. For a sense of what Daniel will say: Download a full text of our recent interview along with a couple of exclusive reports.


In addition HRN has teamed up with Fosway Group to do a quick survey of HR Directors to find out more about the reality of Brexit’s impact on HR and what it means for organizations –  take part in the survey here. We will share the outcomes at HR Tech World on 21 & 22 March.


Brexit remains the issue not just for the UK, but for Europe as a whole and it is very much a people issue. Calling into question fundamental freedoms that all EU citizens have taken for granted over the past 30 years, Brexit has cast a long and deep shadow over the hope, optimism and promise that was born out of the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 and the reconstruction of Europe since 1945.


But, what Brexit won’t do is impact the innate desire of people to connect and engage with each other, to live, work and trade with each other, and that includes across borders – it’s up to the world of HR to make a difference, not to turn the clock back 60 years, and to try to ensure there is no Brexit uncertainty and complexity in the workplace where we spend so much of our adult lives!


Be sure not to miss Daniel Thorniley’s incisive Brexit analysis for HR @ #HRTechWorld


Book it now – be there or be square!



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