Brexit: Deal or No Deal, Change Is Coming to Your Talent Strategy
Exit or not, five talent imperatives to consider as the clock ticks on the UK’s decision.
The scene: A secondary school in London, in 2045. A group of 15-year-old students listen – bored stiff – to their teacher talk animatedly about one of the “most transformative events” in the 21st Century: Brexit, and the events leading up to the UK & Ireland leaving the European Union. The impact this political showdown have on our lives in 2045 is far-ranging – the emergence of new financial hubs in Paris, Frankfurt and Dublin; the fast-moving goods we’re able to access every day (and those we’re not); the acceleration of automation to manage skills gaps in low-wage roles. The list seems endless … just like this class …
Deal or No Deal, the result of Brexit will undoubtedly have a wide-reaching impact for us all, and for generations to come. Whatever your political view on the situation, Brexit demands attention. Whether the implications outlined above become a reality or not, it’s likely the decision and subsequent change will significantly shape our lives.
As HR professionals we have a lot to consider. The legislative changes alone could tie you up in knots. The latest Quarterly Labour Market Outlook from the CIPD revealed earlier this month that employers have been facing a supply shock. More than two in five UK employers (44 percent) reported they had found it “more difficult” to fill vacancies in their organization over the past 12 months as the UK becomes a less attractive destination for prospective workers. Recruitment is certainly one aspect to consider, but there are many other talent imperatives you and your organization need to get ahead of in order to thrive in the coming months and years:
More than two in five UK employers reported they had found it “more difficult” to fill vacancies in their organization over the past 12 months.
Imperative #1—Really understand the detail of your business goals and strategy.
This might sound obvious, but it’s likely there are associated risks and dependencies in your talent plan you need to interrogate and plan for, such as:
- What are the skills and roles you need now and in the future to achieve your business strategy?
- To what extent do these skillsets exist in the business today and where are they currently located? What locations might make sense for these key roles in the future?
- What options do we have for accelerating development of these skills amongst our existing talent?
- Where are the hot-spots for sourcing critical talent and skills?
If you are very dependent on talent from outside of the UK, understanding the options you have available will be critical. Perhaps there are opportunities to further accelerate automation programs, or other populations within your organization who, with re-skilling, have the potential to step into these key roles.
Imperative #2—Use data to model the future.
Consider whether your HR team and systems are really set up to enable agile talent decision-making and to support new, more flexible and remote working models. Anticipate multiple scenarios and outcomes for your business. What if we move to a home-working model? What if we merge sales and marketing? What if we were to set up multi-city micro hubs in place of one European HQ? Review how you could incorporate more data to ensure these decisions are objective and predictive of future performance.
Imperative #3—Continuously evolve your Talent Acquisition strategy.
Look at your Employee Value Proposition and your talent acquisition through a post-Brexit lens. How can you continue to attract a diverse and talented applicant pool? What other features can you introduce or promote to appeal to this pool? Are there roles within your business that could be performed remotely? Could work be performed in more flexible and remote ways? If you can adopt this approach, does this present an opportunity to extend your strategy to a global rather than Euro-centric approach? An open and challenging mind will definitely be needed to help define new approaches for talent acquisition.
Imperative #4—Don’t pigeon-hole your existing talent.
Identifying your top talent has never been more important. Post-Brexit, it’s very possible that a new war for talent will emerge, and with organizations re-thinking their acquisition strategies, your employees will experience new tactics and approaches from competitors. Thriving organizations will not only understand what their top talent can do now, but also what they could do in the future, and won’t make assumptions about where they need or desire to be located. Could your star player in Sydney be the solution in Berlin? Could your high-performing leader in Operations have the potential for a new role in Data Science? Thinking about how you can mobilize existing talent effectively could help provide a competitive edge.
Imperative #5—Support your teams through change.
Finally, whatever the outcome, change is inevitable. Get on the front foot and put in place programs of support and clear communications so individuals feel well-equipped to manage a period of uncertainty. Deploying tactics to help increase well-being and resilience will not only help prepare your workforce for an unsettling period, but coupled with some effective communication, will serve to show your employees that you are fully prepared for the road ahead – even when it’s unclear.
We’re very likely to experience another war for talent, a race to automate and digitalize, and a continuing requirement to do more with less.
Much of this might feel like just good HR practice. And maybe it is. Perhaps Brexit has simply served to put the speed of change and depth of uncertainty we are beginning to experience on a day-to-day basis under a microscope. Time will tell. But what we do know is that we’re very likely to experience another war for talent, a race to automate and digitalize, and a continuing requirement to do more with less – exacerbated by new considerations of how and where critical talent is located.
Talent, and how organizations are able to build agile and diverse teams to enable growth, will be the differentiator. And hopefully, the schoolchildren of the future will find themselves studying an era of great prosperity sparked by an extraordinary event in political history.