June 30, 2016

How can HR teams prepare for Brexit?

If business and HR ever needed confirmation that we live in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world, that confirmation is happening right now, post the EU referendum.

The UK and the rest of the world are waiting to see what happens next, how it happens and what the ramifications will be. There are a lot of questions being asked, a lot of answers being given but the reality is that no-one really knows for sure what will happen next week, next month, next year… VUCA is a reality, both externally and within organisations.

HR has a very important role to play here. HR needs to be talking to employees, communicating the message very clearly that nothing significant is likely to happen in the short to medium term. Employees will want reassurance and guidance. HR needs to meet those needs. Clear, concise, timely communication is required.

In terms of what will happen in organisations in the medium to long term, we don’t know yet. However, HR needs to be help manage change. Some of the important issues that were debated in the campaign – employment law, immigration and the free movement of people and skills – are issues that involve HR.

The CIPD has released a statement about Brexit, which is worth a read. In that statement, Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, says: “For most businesses, the immediate impact of this historic decision will be limited as major changes won’t be able to occur for a while. However, employment law, immigration and the ability of employers to bring the right skills they need into their business were key themes focused on in the campaign that will potentially be subject to change going forwards, and these things will no doubt be on employers’ minds.”

HR needs to gem up on the nitty gritty – employment law, for example. HR has to understand what the implications of Brexit are with regards to employment law. Even if we don’t yet know what will happen, it is advisable to think ahead, to be ready for what might happen. Also, employees and leaders will turn to HR for answers – they will want to know how employment law might change, what this means and when it might happen.

The CIPD’s magazine, People Management, conducted a snap poll on Monday, three days after the result was announced. It found that few HR professionals were prepared for Brexit: only 5% had a post-Brexit plan in place, almost four-fifths (78%) felt they lacked the information to make long-term organisational decisions, a fifth were actively working on a strategic plan and 16% were focusing specifically on securing their non-EU workforce.

What did they think was the likely impact of Brexit? Over half (54%) said it would either weaken or significantly weaken their ability to acquire and retain skilled individuals, although 40% felt it would have no effect. Furthermore, 13% planned to institute a recruitment freeze and just under 70% expected a negative effect on staff morale.

A survey by the Institute of Directors found that almost two thirds of the 1,000 members surveyed think the leave vote will have negative consequences for their business. As a result, 5% plan to cut jobs and almost a third will keep hiring at the same pace.

These are sobering times. HR needs to help everyone in the business – leaders and the general workforce – to cope with the situation in the best possible way.

HR and businesses need to really understand what is required from the profession in the months and years ahead. HR professionalism is now needed more than ever before. Here, at DPG, we can help individuals and whole teams gain the necessary qualifications.

If you need to know more about the benefits of a HR qualification or an Employment Law Award, contact the DPG team on 0330 660 0220 or click the link: [email protected]

Or if you’d like to find out more about our HR qualifications, click here