We now know Brexit means Brexit. The Prime Minister Theresa May made that clear last month during a visit to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Her subsequent appointment of David Davis as ‘Brexit Minister’ seems to have done little to ease the unrest in the economy though. Talk of EU migrant worker cut-off dates and a stream of data (including IHS Markit’s PMI Index) pointing at a shrinking economy are not helping. So what does this mean for recruitment?
Statistics concerning post-Brexit vote job numbers are certainly coming thick and fast. The Recruitment & Employment Confederation report this month revealed that the job market went into freefall during July. Numbers from Reed Group however found that the number of jobs posted on its site were up eight percent on last year, while the Bank of England released its own business conditions report. The report says the vote to leave was expected to have a negative effect overall on hiring activity over the coming twelve months.
Brexit is certainly making waves in recruitment and will continue to have an impact as we move closer to Brexit day, or B-Day. What this will mean in real terms is of course uncertain. We can only speculate as to the scale of impact but there will be change. So is this change a help or a hindrance? There will certainly be challenges but perhaps there is also opportunity in Brexit? Either way it is good to be prepared, to identify areas of potential change and react accordingly.
1.Attracting Talent – a chance to review processes and procedures?
It’s no secret that finding talent within certain industry sectors such as technology, engineering and healthcare is already challenging. Brexit, with its potential alterations to immigration laws and policies on recruiting overseas will only raise the bar further. How do businesses meet this challenge? While some companies are already looking at Brexit managers to help negotiate the overall impact on an organisation, recruiters and HR managers will still be faced with the same old problem of how to locate and recruit talent, regardless of location. Skills shortages generally dictate here but perhaps Brexit provides an opportunity to re-evaluate recruitment process and agency relationships to ensure there is improved coverage of global talent, as well as increased opportunity for graduate trainees? A HR manager and executive study of 75 top graduate employers by PathMotion said if UK companies were unable to freely hire EU graduates as a result of Brexit, 25 per cent of employers would be likely to increase recruitment of British graduates. Having to look further afield to attract talent if EU workers prefer moves within existing EU states, will mean a shift in policy if the business is not already looking outside of the EU. This is a chance to streamline procedures, reduce complexity and improve opportunities.
2. Canned projects and the recruitment conundrum
Brexit has already impacted infrastructure projects such as Heathrow’s third runway and the HS2 railway and a recent KPMG report has revealed that 30 per cent of projects have been cancelled or postponed leading to a 28 per cent drop in recruitment. As we all wait for the politicians to come up with some solutions to Brexit, how do organisations manage their project talent and ensure they do not lose key skills when it comes to turning projects back on? With such a large scale of projects put on pause the impact on temporary staff will be considerable. Managing this process and ensuring skills are still available as and when projects are restarted will be a challenge, otherwise projects will be understaffed, under skilled and end up delivering poor results for more cost.
3.Managing expectations and keeping lid on costs
Beware the complexity of multiple agency deals as Brexit will undoubtedly force businesses to spread their net even wider, bringing on board more recruitment agencies in order to access the right talent. In a slowdown all costs are also scrutinised so how do businesses ensure they are getting their bang for buck? We are entering a difficult phase for HR managers and recruiters where board level decisions will be impacted more than ever by the availability of skills. The ability to offer executives solutions based on solid research and at low cost will underpin business development in the next 12 to 18 months. In the same vein, providing the board with a clear understanding of the current recruitment market and the difficulties facing EU workers is essential.
4.Rein-in technology and use the cloud
Technology can help businesses stay on top of talent acquisition and management. Flexibility is the name of the game in an uncertain market. Using cloud-based services to increase agility and management of talent and agencies will help keep a lid on potentially spiralling costs but also provide the business with an insight into new opportunities as some sectors benefit from Brexit. Certainly algorithmic-based recommendation and management platforms, as well as automated matching and alerts to any device have huge potential to add value. Trends towards ‘gig working’ have limited scope and are focussed on the lower end of the SME market. Recruiters and HR managers need more control, more visibility of agencies and the employment needs of the business to ensure waste and risk is minimised.
5.Keeping your European options open
Of course Brexit doesn’t actually mean we are upping anchor and shifting the country towards Greenland. The UK is still part of Europe and will remain a popular destination for visitors and workers, it’s just it will become more difficult to actually make it happen. Keeping track of new legislation and rule changes will of course be important as businesses plot a course through the Brexit waters. Certainly any business and projects plans will need to factor in the extra costs and complications associated with bringing in workers from EU countries in the future. This is almost guaranteed. As a recent Manpower report revealed, Brexit could leave the UK woefully short of workers.