Chris Brooks: Measuring the impact of Brexit on HR teams

HR teams will need to be prepared for Brexit. In making their preparations, they will need to be proactive, anticipate the likely issues and start planning for them now. Here, we outline some of the challenges HR could face around Brexit and highlight how it could best manage the underpinning HR technology in order to minimise disruption and optimise the benefits for people and the business moving forwards.

Rolling out an approach

One of the key issues HR will face after Brexit will be the likelihood of skills shortages and their potential exacerbation, due to a shrinking talent pool. This will bring additional challenges to HR departments focused on hiring staff because recruitment will become more competitive.

The need to manage rules regarding employing EU citizens after Brexit will also present challenges.  Company budgets may come under further pressure due to the potential for increased wage bills because of currency fluctuations when trading across different countries. HR may also, unfortunately, need to make and/or manage redundancies if company costs increase or we see delays.  A further issue for many businesses is the need for HR to manage business relocations when individuals move back to the UK from an EU country or alternatively out of the UK.

While all these questions present challenges for businesses and HR, they also provide opportunities. These questions should have been on the radar of HR teams for some time, given the long lead up to Brexit. HR is increasingly tasked with being efficient in dealing with them or in being prepared to manage these challenges. Achieving these efficiencies will help address the immediate barriers but also bring broader business benefits over time. Doing this, however, depends on getting the right blend of process, people and technology in place.

A step-by-step process

The first step for businesses is to evaluate their HR processes and ask themselves honestly whether they are being as effective as possible. Next, organisations need to look at the people delivering those processes and the technology underpinning them. While such measures will help any HR team prepare for Brexit, these are also approaches that all departments can be doing now that will bring them benefits whether we have a hard Brexit, a soft Brexit, or no Brexit at all.

So, let’s take a look at potential process improvements in more detail.  As an example, if you were able to tap into a living talent pool, reduce the time taken to get positions approved, complete the selection process, issue offer letters and complete pre employment screening in a short time frame your cost of employing new people or the associated costs of ‘failure demand’ that drives the use of agencies would be vastly reduced.

Organisations are cutting departmental budgets, so collaborating with businesses that perform  process and technology reviews on a daily basis will uncover, without doubt, significant potential savings.

If you can evaluate the processes that underpin HR and marry those to your technology investment, then you’re in a strong position to deliver an efficient and effective HR service to your customers. This will be more cost-effective, and enables your HR professionals to focus their time in advising on your people agenda that HR could well need to be prepared to deal with post-Brexit. That will be crucial, as it will be HR’s role in the post-Brexit environment to manage any people issues that arise.

The technology angle

So what does all this require organisations to do? The key from a business and HR perspective is to engage early with your IT team or your managed service provider to map out plans for any rapid change needed, enabling the business to be agile in reacting as soon as the outcome of Brexit is clear.

Your IT/managed service partner will help here by highlighting what and when the windows exists for any changes that are required based on outcome of Brexit.  The key is planning early and having a partner either who has the capability to react sufficiently quickly to make those changes or who can support your IT team. Having your HR system in the cloud can help drive agility in this context because the HR department will get regular updates with the latest enhancements.

Looking ahead positively

In summary, it is important to highlight that the kind of process and technology improvements we have discussed here benefit you irrespective of whether Brexit happens or not. HR departments would gain more broadly from improving their processes in this way and underpinning those improvements to a robust technology.

Just step back and ask yourselves: “Are my business processes truly operationally efficient?” I suspect that most organisations cannot answer “yes” to this question.

Unfortunately today, many businesses are happy to spend a lot on technology and additional headcount to manage the administration, but then neglect to revisit the processes to ensure that they are truly efficient.  Brexit can be the driver to review all this but remember that technology, on its own, does not deliver improvements, it is simply an enabler that when linked to business processes and desired outcomes allows business transformations to be achieved.