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The majority of organisations have made no preparations for Brexit’s impact on people


The Brexit negotiations are progressing rapidly and a preliminary agreement has been drafted on the UK’s departure and is currently being voted on. As the date on which the UK will leave the EU - 29 March 2019 - approaches, however, the majority of organisations have not prepared for Brexit’s potential impact on their staff. By virtue of all the uncertainties the Brexit negotiations will bring, organisations need to prepare, plan for and respond to Brexit’s potential impact on people.

Brexit people & organisation survey 2018

How do organisations and HR departments see Brexit and what contingency preparations do they have in place?

Make no-regret decisions

Because of all the uncertainties associated with the Brexit negotiations, organisations need to prepare, plan and respond to Brexit’s potential impact on people. Organisations can even leverage the impact of Brexit using their HR function and mobile workforce, by making no-regret decisions.

Impacted workforce

The key first step is to assess those in your workforce who may be affected in order to determine the potential people impact of Brexit. Do you know how many EU national your organisation employs in the UK, and how many UK nationals who are working in the EU? How many of these staff are highly mobile and travel frequently between the UK and the EU, such as short-term business travellers, commuters and project workers? Using data analytics to assess the workforce data that your organisation already has available, you can get a clearer view of the potential impact on your workforce.

The composition of your organisation’s workforce and planning

Having assessed the diversity of your workforce and the potential impact of Brexit, your workforce planning can then be reviewed and reconsidered. Do you know what proportion of your company’s critical skills, capabilities or staff consist of EU and non-EU resident employees?

Taking into account the various Brexit scenarios is key to understanding its impact on your company’s people and operations. The majority of organisations, however, have conducted no scenario planning to assess the risk and critical impact of Brexit. For example, would your organisation’s day-to-day operations be at risk if your staff were no longer allowed to enter the UK or the EU for work due to a hard Brexit or a ‘no deal’ scenario?

More than half of organisations are not proactively discussing the potential HR challenges of Brexit with their workforce. How are you informing your existing employees, and how are you supporting them to secure their status in their current country of residence? How do you make sure that talent is retained despite the uncertainties that Brexit is causing? It is crucial to communicate clearly and to engage with your workforce and all other relevant stakeholders on a regular basis.

As Brexit unfolds, bringing all sorts of uncertainties for your organisation and workforce, make sure that your organisation has short-term and long-term workforce planning strategies in place to ensure that Brexit’s potential impact on people is minimised or even leveraged.

Act now: prepare, plan and implement

The departure date is approaching fast. Organisations need to be prepared and plan for all possible scenarios. Build agility and flexibility into your workforce planning strategies, enabling your organisation to anticipate – and leverage – every possible outcome for your staff.

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Marlous van der Zande - van Wouwe

Marlous van der Zande - van Wouwe


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