Preparing for Brexit - Are Talent Acquisition Execs Ready?

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Brexit is by far the biggest threat to small and large organisations’ talent acquisition and workforce strategies in recent years. Article 50 has now been triggered and the effects of this referendum are already being seen. An estimated 100,000 Polish workers have returned from the UK to the continent. And London is currently now France’s 4th largest city based on the number of French nationals living and working in the UK capital.

What will this all look like in 2 years’ time?

Are HR/TA execs prepared to mitigate the impact of Brexit on their talent acquisition and workforce retention strategies? Companies need to prepare for big changes whilst the details of a 'deal' the UK may secure upon exiting the union in 2019 remain uncertain. Every company should already be considering everything from understanding how many EU workers are currently in their organisation to preparing for the inevitable skill shortages as a result of the movement of people. The level of true impact is under analysis as we speak and some analysts are offering some significant stats to consider: “Some 1.6 million EU workers are currently employed in the United Kingdom and 88 percent of them would not qualify for a visa under existing rules.”  (Accenture, “Brexit and the UK Workforce”)

The focus and prioritisation on human capital management is appropriately high at the moment with over 80% of HR executives interviewed saying that attracting and retaining the best talent in the marketplace is their main concern.  But, the strategic planning involved in preparing for the effects of Brexit needs to be embedded into these strategies. It is vital that companies have a true understanding of and total visibility into their workforce mix in order to work proactively and strategically to prepare for the painful process of unlocking the UK from the EU.

What can TA Executives be doing?

  • Begin Engaging EU Workers Immediately: Assess who they are in your company and where they are currently working. Reach out and ask what concerns and questions they may have. While most TA execs won’t likely have a specific and concrete strategy in place to communicate right now, an employer can make a more conceptual commitment to doing everything they can to find smart solutions. Even just expressing this intention will go a long way to demonstrate they are a caring employer and have their best interests at heart.
  • Forecast Talent Egress: Look at forecasted hiring areas over the next 1 to 2 years and study the composition of EU workers to anticipate and address potential skill gaps proactively.
  • Build Anticipatory Pipelines: An assessment of your company’s talent inventory will no doubt reveal potential gaps. Building target talent pipelines to address these gaps takes time and smart companies should begin farming for this talent now knowing that the real harvest may not be for another year. Companies may also want to consider filling certain hiring needs ahead of the timeline knowing that the competition for UK native talent is going to go up significantly once Brexit takes full effect.
  • Assess Resource Location Strategies: Be proactive in researching the location of your talent. Does all the current work need to stay in the United Kingdom and/or the European Union? Shifting these models will take planning and time. It’s best to be ahead of the curve and come up with viable relocation strategies to mitigate the Brexit effect than to wait too long and be in a rushed and reactive position.

Brexit will no doubt bring volatility to talent acquisition and overall workforce planning. Many companies will face hiring surges and headcount gaps they’ve never seen before. Some will experience a temporary challenge while others may be facing a more systemic and longstanding issue with finding the right talent. Either way, an RPO provider is the perfect solution. With proven expertise in your hiring needs, they will guarantee your TA programs will not suffer whilst managing through this immense change. With client-dedicated experts and strong leverage of data analytics, they can ensure you steer clear of the choppy waters that are no doubt ahead.

Read more to learn about the wide range of custom-tailored RPO solutions that Sevenstep provides to leading companies around the globe challenged with managing their TA programs through change.


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