Strategic Growth - Advisor
In whatever form the realities of Brexit unfold, they will affect the availability of talent in the UK. We’ll undoubtably lose EU employees and become a less attractive destination for overseas talent. We’ve had talent shortages before, but this is different.
With Brexit, the UK will face an unusual combination of a very tight labour markets and business uncertainty. Usually, talent markets are tight when the economy is booming - so employers can effectively throw money at the problem.
But in this situation, recruiters will need to meet the challenges of an acute shortage of talent without asking for more budget. At Hollaroo we’re helping businesses to stay on the front foot and prepare for the unexpected.
Where are businesses up to with Brexit?
Amidst the uncertainty, businesses are starting to act:
- Research by the CBI indicates that more than two-thirds of UK companies will activate their Brexit contingency plans by Christmas if there is not a clear outcome from negotiations. A further fifth of companies said that the deadline for triggering their emergency efforts had already passed.
- The UK government has told companies to start drawing up standard contractual clauses for data transfers in case of a no-deal Brexit. If there is no deal, companies will have less than six months to organise new contracts with their employees.
- A recent article in the Independent quoted up to 47 per cent of high-skilled EU citizens employed in the UK are considering leaving the UK within the next five years. The impact of leavers will be further compounded by an increasing number of older UK workers leaving the job market. Employers are exploring how to open up new sources of talent while working hard at retention.
Brexit through the eyes of workforce supply and demand
At this stage, no one knows what type of limit there will be on mobility or where the real skills gaps will appear. But we know it will span everyone from fruit-pickers and hospitality workers to medics and skilled professionals.
Candidates and current employees are being very cautious about their next steps and employers have little reassurance to offer around Brexit itself. What organisations can do is take steps to reassure and retain in order to prepare for the fallout from Brexit whatever it may be.
This Office of National Statistics graph shows how the number of EU Nationals working in the UK is already declining rapidly.
A recent Bloomberg article described that Prime Minister Theresa May has a target of reducing net annual migration to the tens of thousands from more than 200,000 currently. “Her government is aiming for a system after the divorce that gives ministers the flexibility to ease rules for countries with which they strike trade deals, with high-skilled workers prioritised and low-skilled immigration curbed”. But this suggested that the government will understand and prioritise the skills every business deems to be important in the future – when the roles might not have even been conceived yet!
Businesses can act now to mitigate risk and improve business continuity.
What can you be doing right now?
- Offer reassurance: Stepping up engagement and communication with your workforce will help mitigate anxiety. By opening the topic up for discussion you’ll be able to shift the focus away from the potential workforce crisis to showing employees that the business understands and is prepared for any outcome.
- Focus on upskilling: Consider how the reaction to Brexit might affect your internal mobility and take action now. Upskilling will help to mitigate a future skills gap and will also aid retention efforts. If you can see gaps, it’s time to start building external networks of future potential talent.
- Test the mood of your workforce: Gauging how people feel will mean you’re less likely to be taken by surprise when Brexit does happen. Create a place for your employees to converse and ask questions. Stay close to the media attention that has a direct bearing on mood in the workplace.
- Identify new sources of talent: We’re helping clients tap into new sources of talent by creating networks and communities of external talent. Previously untapped sources include returners, older workers and people from more diverse backgrounds. Starting the conversation now will help to build the talent pipeline.
- The Business Case for Talent Pipelining: We think the time is right for recruiters to educate their businesses towards a longer term investment in talent mapping - don't wait until the vacancy already exists, and think that a Linkedin licence is the answer for attraction...
News on a Brexit deal or no-deal is imminent. Regardless of the detail, being future-focused about your workforce will put you in a stronger position. At Hollaroo we’re helping businesses to start conversations and build relationships with internal and external talent so they’re as prepared as they can be for the unexpected.