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The Impact of ‘Brexit’ – Is Your Business Prepared?

The Impact of ‘Brexit’ – Is Your Business Prepared?

On 23rd June 2016, UK voters decided in favour of leaving the European Union (EU) in a landmark referendum. Since then it’s fair to say that UK politics has seen a fair amount of turmoil:

  • The prime minister announced his intention to step down
  • The favourite to replace him withdrew from the leadership race
  • The leader of the UK Independence Party unexpectedly resigned
  • The leader of the opposition is under increasing pressure to follow suit

There has been much debate as to what the referendum result actually means. Some argue that the majority was not significant enough for it to carry, whilst others insist that the result is meaningless until parliament vote to act upon it. At this stage we still don’t know who will invoke the now infamous ‘Article 50’, let alone when this might happen.

One thing we can be sure of is that, whenever it does happen, the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will have implications for workers and employers. In this blog I want to focus on what this could mean.

Even in these turbulent times, the UK job market remains a buyer’s one:

  • Employment is at a record high
  • There is a significant skills shortage
  • Customers have increasingly high expectations when it comes to quality, choice & service

Currently many UK employers, particularly in the retail, hospitality & healthcare sectors, depend heavily on EU nationals in order to fill their resource gaps. In fact recent studies suggest that around 10% of the UK workforce is made up of non-UK nationals.

There are a number of options to be considered when it comes to the future relationship between the UK and the EU. Norway, Switzerland and Turkey amongst others have each adopted a different model and this does not represent an exhaustive list of options. The impact each of these will have on EU nationals currently residing and working in the UK varies significantly. In extreme cases they would be treated the same as non-EU nationals wishing to work in the UK, making the process of recruiting and retaining them much more cumbersome and costly for employers.

It is true that those models most likely to be adopted would not introduce such complexities. Most experts predict that the UK will negotiate for a degree of free movement of workers in return for a reciprocal agreement on the free movement of goods. However, the very fact that the UK is no longer part of the EU may well influence people’s decision to stay in or move to the country.

Employers with locations in both the UK and mainland Europe will also need to consider the introduction of any constraints making it more difficult for them to move their workforce around. Perhaps more of a shorter-term consideration is the performance of the pound and the impact this has on UK businesses who rely on importing and / or exporting goods.

The upshot is that there will certainly be some degree of impact on UK employers, many of whom are still coming to terms with the introduction of the National Living Wage. With the skills shortage almost certainly about to get worse, it is more important than ever for employers to retain and recruit the best talent and make sure they are getting the most out of their workforce. A cloud-based Workforce Management solution offers one of the most effective means to achieve these objectives:

  • Empower & Engage – Giving workers the tools they need to take more control over their work-life balance results in happier, more productive employees who are more likely to stay
  • Optimise – Effective forecasting, labour deployment & scheduling tools allow businesses to improve efficiency whilst controlling payroll costs by ensuring ‘right people, right place, right time’

It’s a competitive world out there, and it’s about to get even more competitive. Is your business prepared?

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