Business and Brexit

Theresa May’s Brexit deal was overwhelmingly shot down by MPs on Tuesday, with both Remainers and Leavers rejecting the bill.

While this was a widely predicted outcome, businesses across the country are facing up to the reality of a prolonged lack of clarity about the future of the UK and how the current situation will impact the world of work.

For the Prime Minister at least, she is facing up to a Vote of No Confidence tabled by Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, further adding to the confusion. Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell told the BBC that whilst he expected to lose the vote he wasn’t giving in. “Who can tell anymore, because after yesterday’s vote anything can happen in Parliament,” he said.

Confirming the DUP – the Conservative’s supply and demand partner – would back the government in the vote, MP Sammy Wilson said his party “never wanted a change of government, we wanted a change of policy”.

And Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, called on politicians to reach a compromise agreement. “Every business will feel no deal is hurtling closer,” she warned.

“A new plan is needed immediately. All MPs need to reflect on the need for compromise and to act at speed to protect the UK’s economy.”

There are a number of crucial strategies for businesses to consider for better stability stability during this difficult period.

Therefore, Executive Grapevine has compiled advice from business leaders and experts to help HR navigate the uncharted waters of the negotiation failures. Read on to find out more.

Improve your communication

The news that the Brexit uncertainty is going to continue is likely to unsettle many workers, especially those from the EU. Ensuring all staff feel reassured can help prevent disengagement and unneeded attrition.

CEO of Reward Gateway Glenn Elliott wrote in a blog post that his firm put out a video for employees to inform them about the next stages in the Brexit debate to ensure all staff were up to date and rumours would not circulate. “I felt that the staff needed to see my face, hear the seriousness in my voice and see that I was speaking from the heart,” he wrote.

However, it is also important not to become too involved in the debate so you don’t disenfranchise staff whilst also keeping a check on how online life might affect how you are professional regarded. “You don’t want to alienate part of your workforce by making them feel you dislike how they feel on what is a matter for personal choice and conscience,” said Elliott.

“As a leader, you need to be aware that your actions carry extra weight. So, every ‘like’ you post, or comments you make are heard loudly – use them carefully.”

Apply for a sponsor licence to ease migration issues

Industries that rely on migrant workers may be afraid that yesterday’s result jeopardises their ability to attract and retain talent. Jonathan Beech, Managing Director of Migrate UK, said that the “unprecedented uncertainty, anxiety and concern is continuing” over the future of EU national workers.

“Companies with genuine skilled vacancies should consider applying for a sponsor licence so they have access to a wider pool of talent,” he said.

“In addition, every business must have the correct permitted documentation to employ EU workers no matter what the outcome will be between now and March.”

He added that the continued delay of a decision could mean businesses may have more time before any changes are made. “Following MPs’ rejection of Theresa Mays’ Brexit deal and the pending confidence vote, whatever happens next whether it’s a renegotiation, another referendum or even a call for a general election, the closer we get to March 29th then the greater likelihood of a stay of execution for EU nationals and of Article 50 being delayed.”

Prepare for the skills you will need

There is still no certainty on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, so it is possible the UK will face a skills shortage in the near future. One of the best ways to mitigate this is to train your current workforce in the areas you know you will need or would struggle to cope without.

The CIPD’s guide Preparing for Brexit through workforce planning suggests ensuring your organisation has the necessary skills and labour to continue delivering on business objectives, against both expected and unexpected changes, will be critical.

The authors use the example of a hotel chain that has a clear ‘build, not buy’ philosophy. “It aims to recruit people who will stay with the business, who will grow and develop,” they write. “The challenge is then to get to select the right people and give them the right development. Immigration controls might reduce the labour pool in some hiring locations, but the company is investing in apprentices.”

Other CIPD recommendations to address workforce requirements during this period of uncertainty are:

  • Redeploy resources
  • Restructure work
  • Improve retention
  • Improve attraction
  • Use contingent workers
  • Find new sources of labour
  • Outsource
  • Collaborate
  • Automate
  • Relocate work

(Article originally posted on Executive Grapevine.)