85 per cent of UK businesses have restructured in the wake of January’s Brexit deal, and the majority believe leaving the EU has negatively impacted operations, according to a new report by specialist recruiter Robert Half.
Nearly half of UK businesses (44%) have had to redesign job roles and responsibilities post-Brexit, while 20% have laid off staff and 16% have required team members to relocate, according to the survey of UK executives. A further 6% indicated they have implemented a combination of the above, while only 15% say there have been no changes due to Brexit.
“These findings underscore the impact Brexit has had on the way companies operate, especially coming on the heels of the major changes wrought by COVID-19,” said Matt Weston, Managing Director, Robert Half UK. “Employees are having to move location and develop new skills in response. Brexit has created both challenges and opportunities for British businesses, and it’s up to each individual organisation to make sure they have the agility and responsiveness to capitalise on this upheaval.”
The research also found that the majority of British businesses (56%) believe that the Brexit deal has had a negative impact on their operations, with a fifth (21%) saying they have been ‘amongst the worst affected’. This stands in contrast to the 6% of companies who reported that Brexit has been a net positive, while 38% said that the deal hasn’t impacted them significantly thus far.
“There are a number of areas – including the services economy – which are still unclear on precisely what Brexit means for them,” continued Weston. “But already, we’re seeing the impact of ending Freedom of Movement with so many businesses struggling to find top talent. The legal and political situation will continue to evolve, but in the meantime, businesses need to develop clear strategies around how they are going to source, upskill, and retain their best people.”
Three strategies to help retain your best employees
- Offer ownership and autonomy: People want to feel valued and trusted, so look for opportunities to give top performers control over special projects or key business initiatives, then let them get on with it in their own way, while offering support should they need it. By freeing people up to tackle problems as they see fit, organisations can often uncover new and better ways of doing things
- Offer clear career paths and choices: Managers should be carving out time, separate and apart from annual performance reviews, to sit down with employees and discuss how they can advance in the business. By identifying specific positions and milestones, as well as some concrete steps on how to achieve them, managers can give workers a greater sense of control over their careers. At the same time, companies need to evaluate their learning and development programmes to make sure they meet the needs of the post-pandemic era and that staff are happy with the training courses and qualifications on offer.
- Think about the broader impacts: More broadly, apart from productivity and efficiency considerations, executives should consider conducting an impact analysis of the effects of automation on things like employee happiness, career development, and training and development so that they can anticipate and pre-emptively address these issues.
 Research conducted by Rigour Research, surveying 300 UK executives from March 18th – April 1st 2021.