A post-Brexit workforce                 

No decisions have been made on how EU migration will be affected post-Brexit. But it is likely that the ease in which EU/EEA nationals live and work in the UK will shift.

It is not yet clear how this will change once the UK leaves the EU. The Brexit white paper indicates that the government will only continue to protect the rights of EEA nationals already exercising treaty rights if the same guarantees are made for British nationals living and working in the EEA. 

Any changes to existing rules could have widespread implications for UK organisations. It is now more important than ever that employers are prepared. 

Step one – a people audit
Step two – analysing the audit
Step three – action plan

Step one – a people audit

A people audit is a useful first step. Employers should establish if they hold the following information on their employees as an urgent priority:
  • nationality;
  • copy of a passport or work visa if one is currently needed;
  • location;
  • job role;
  • start date with the company in the UK or other EEA country;
  • contact details; and
  • length of residence in the UK or EEA country. 

Ideally, this information should be filed electronically. This makes it easy to access and update. 

Any information gaps should be filled. Techniques like a bring your passport to work day or asking staff to fill out employee details forms will help gather accurate data. 

Step two – analysing the audit

Once employers have the required information on their workforce, it is important they use it to inform strategic decision making. 

Employers need to identify employees who may be affected by changing immigration rules. This will help highlight potential skills gaps post-Brexit. A robust workforce planning exercise may be required depending upon what is uncovered.

Some employers may find that their workforce is mostly unaffected by Brexit. But for those that rely heavily on EEA nationals, it is likely that acting now will protect the organisation for the future. Hospitality, technology and construction sectors have already expressed concern about how they will cope post-Brexit. With some considering introducing pools of casual workers to afford greater flexibility and others recruiting beyond headcount to allow for some movement of resources.

Equally it is important that organisations have strong, future proof and robust talent and resourcing plans to identify and retain talent and critical experts. One of the ways to do this is to highlight clear career paths for employees and to focus on maximising their strengths. 

It is therefore advisable that organisations consider this at a senior level and incorporate a focus on Brexit and people implications within their HR Strategy and with input from HR experts.

Step three – action plan

Preparing for the unknown can seem daunting, but it in today’s operating environment it is critical. When employers have a good understanding of the potential impacts of Brexit, an action plan can help mitigate risks.

Here are some options to include in your Brexit action plan.

  • Support your current workforce. Educate and support employees to get a permanent residence card or offer access to legal advice if employees wish to apply to become British Citizens.
  • Future proof your talent and resourcing plans. Consider and review the likely impacts and risks to your workforce because of Brexit.
  • Widen your potential sources for attracting talent. Reach out to a wider range of candidates. For example forming closer alliances with schools and colleges, setting up more internships and strengthening Corporate Responsibility initiatives to build your profile in the community.
  • Invest in learning and development to develop talent and retain your people. Develop and promote from within alongside widening your potential sources for attracting external talent. For example, Halfords has invested in training centres in prisons and provided work to those who show potential while serving their sentences. 

Adapting your HR strategy in preparation for Brexit will be critical. For further information and help conducting an audit of your workforce or for support in future proofing your talent and resourcing plans, please contact Steve Sweetlove.