Theresa May begins the two-year countdown on Wednesday by triggering Article 50, kicking off a period of creating new legislation in Westminster and negotiating with Brussels, to set out the terms. It’s being widely referred to in the media as Brexit Week.
The Prime Minister’s announcement has at last put the impact of Brexit firmly on the C-suite’s agenda. To help get the ball rolling, we’ve pulled together a checklist for the Chief Executive, Chief People Officer, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer’s “Brexit week” pow wow.
Know your passports
Quickly identify the team members who could be affected, run the list past an immigration lawyer and cost up the legal work required to secure their residencies.
For team members who are too valuable to lose, the legal costs are a good investment. Act quickly to reassure the team you have a plan in place, preventing uncertainty or cynicism from taking hold.
Review the training budget
Many industries are at risk of a skills shortage. In some we see native senior team members 10 to 15 years away from retirement, while almost all other workers are non-native.
Apprenticeships and ongoing training will be necessary to skill up the local workforce.
This could look expensive at first, but should be offset by a reduction in turnover and possibly in reduced agency fees.
Prepare to pay more, one way or another
The question of whether access to European workers has depressed UK wages remains a political football. But one way or another, organisations will inevitably find themselves paying more – so start budgeting for this.
Wages to UK staff will almost certainly go up to attract strong performers. But if it remains possible to access lower paid European workers, via increased visa controls, administration costs can be expected to soar.
Review the ratio of jobs to employees
A possible skills shortage could well be the trigger for revisiting the number of team members doing certain hours. The ratio could be shifted in either direction.
The last few years have seen a spike in the number of part-time and contract employees working far less than a full week. You might re-organise the company around less employees putting in more time, converting small roles into larger ones.
Or possibly even the reverse. Being prepared to onboard volunteers and part-time staff might help to plug resource gaps.
For some EU nationals, the uncertainty during upcoming negotiations will prove too much and team members, despite being highly valued, might well resign.
As a good employer, ensure appropriate documentation remains available in your systems for some time afterwards – allowing former staff access to their payslips, P60s, and anything else that supports their transition. Even a small amount of administrative support, such as this, will be welcomed by frustrated former employees facing difficult decisions.
Also, don’t lose their details. Remember, negotiations will be protracted. We have no real clarity about the final outcomes. You might well find you’re in a position to invite staff back when the negotiations are complete. Keeping track of great former team members helps reduce the cost of recruitment in the future.
Ciphr Chief Executive Chris Berry says, “Across the hundreds of UK organisations we provide people technology for, very few will remain unaffected by this week’s developments.
“A significant proportion of the UK workforce will face right-to-work issues. We see the implications right across our client base, which covers the technology, finance, retail, education, healthcare, housing and professional services sectors.
“It’s important to remember that we are not replacing access to the European workforce with 27 alternative source countries. For those running organisations, the strategic impact of managing personnel through the upcoming changes will become one of their biggest business considerations.”