With article 50 triggered, Brexit is about to become a reality. Whilst a recent study found 59% of large businesses are optimistic about their prospects in a post-Brexit Britain, firms need to prepare now if this confidence is to transform into tangible results. As many European Union policies and regulations are central to current employment legislation and practices, business leaders are looking to HR teams to guide them through the complicated maze of changing HR and business legislation that lies ahead.

With this in mind, here are three things HR managers need to be aware of as Brexit begins:

Changes to HR legislation

According to the Brexit Business Barometer, UK firms see a break from Europe as an opportunity to free themselves from EU employment legislation. 59% of large businesses want more regulations around working hours whilst 53% would like greater flexibility to hire agency workers. Whilst the Government has made assurances that workers’ rights will be protected, there are likely to be changes to British HR legislation moving away from current EU standards. HR teams need to make sure they keep up to date on potential legislative changes to advise business leaders how best to respond and take advantage of the new legislation as it presents itself.

Responding to the skills gap

Many companies are also keen to ramp up recruitment as a result of Britain leaving the EU, with nearly half (49%) of large firms saying they expect to hire more people. However, with UK unemployment at an 11-year low and less labour available, a growing skills gap and the worst productivity in the G7, ensuring new employees bring the right ability and experience for their business, will be crucial if companies want to grow. With uncertainties around hiring foreign nationals in the future, companies need to look inwards to combat the skills gap. Firms should put in place regular training sessions for their current employees to develop their skill sets in line with business needs. Professional development and a clear career progression also ensure staff feels happy at work, which reduces churn and helps combat any skills shortages a company might face in a post-Brexit Britain.

Assisting international employees

If businesses are to hire more people and respond to the skills gap at times of high employment, it is likely that they will need to look overseas for talent. Naturally, access to global talent will be dependent upon Government immigration policies. Yet, HR teams should be conscious that they might be tasked with recruiting outside of Europe and aware of how they can create a company culture that crosses different social and cultural backgrounds, and embraces diversity. Furthermore, managers need to be aware that international employees already working at a company will be concerned about the Brexit process and how it might impact their personal and professional future. If they haven’t already done so, HR departments should deploy open communications with their non-UK EU workers and ensure open and honest conversations on their employment status.

Expect the unexpected

However, if one thing is certain in the post-Brexit landscape, it is that no policy is set in stone. Britain’s level of access to the single market, specific employment legislation changes and how international employees will be impacted, are all subject to change. HR managers can take advantage of the uncertainty, providing strategic insight to C-level executives on how different employment legislation changes might affect the business. If HR teams prepare for Brexit now, they can help ensure the transition to a post-EU Britain for their organisation will be as smooth as possible.

By Jonathan Legdon, NGA HR, President UK & Ireland


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