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With Brexit rapidly approaching, the war for talent and recruitment is getting tougher. Business owners are worried about the availability of skilled workers in the future, especially as we approach the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement on 11th December. So how can they prepare?

We haven’t seen a lot of people leaving businesses at the moment, but we have seen a slowdown in the number of people coming into the UK. There’s heightened competition for employers because there’s a smaller pool of people.

This means that employers have to be smarter in terms of how they attract people to come and work for them – and how they retain and develop their team.

Train and invest

In practice, looking at how you train and invest in your workforce – and how you access and utilise funds through schemes such as the government’s Apprenticeship Levy, which helps employers fund apprenticeships – can be enormously valuable.

Companies are pitching against each other now, so that means you’ve got to be an impressive and attractive employer with the foresight to adapt for your multi-generation workforce. Business owners need to understand their employees’ needs.

You want to ensure your employees have a great experience; when they’re supported and rewarded, they’ll deliver great work and a healthier bottom line.

Haines Watts helps clients assess their talent pools by looking at attraction methods, lifestyle benefits and development, within the UK and across the EU (as well as worldwide).

Find your footing

This concept goes back to the basics of HR, where you’re looking at the talent map within your business, determining what you need against the business plan. It’s a smart way to identify the talent you need. Sometimes it means looking closer to home at your current talent pool and investing in training for them.

But it’s also looking worldwide – the cost to sponsor a visa is quite expensive, but if you’re looking for a specific set of skills and what it can bring to the business, then your return on investment can be easily realised.

One key positive amidst the Brexit uncertainty is a strong indication from the UK government that ‘settled’ EU nationals will be able to stay. For EU citizens who have five years’ residency in the UK, the expectation is they will apply for settled status and – from what we’re hearing – the intention is for that to be accepted. It’s positive news that this is the default intent. What we don’t know is whether that’s an absolute; the opportunity to apply for settled status won’t open until March next year so we are planning how to support our clients’ workforces in preparation for that. It is also worth remembering the reciprocal impact where expat’s return from the EU, providing a potential pool of job seekers.

Forward planning

Businesses will continue to make contingency arrangements, particularly where EU citizens make up a large part of their workforce. For some Haines Watts clients in sectors such as manufacturing, EU nationals can represent up to half of their team.

One of our clients is saying that if a huge proportion of their workforce did ‘up and leave’ the industry, they would probably have to seriously consider offshoring part of their business. This could create a huge risk to the UK economy if a number of larger businesses plan along those lines too.

5 questions to help you win the talent war

Haines Watts Human Resources offers HR solutions and helps businesses across the UK. The questions they suggest every business owner should be asking themselves are:

  1. Assess your talent map – what skills and roles do you have, where, and what do you need to deliver your business plan?
  2. Invest in training – How can you upskill your existing workforce to meet your goals?
  3. Refine your approach – Are you delivering a first-class experience for new and existing recruits?
  4. Become an employer of choice – What makes your business an attractive place to work?
  5. Widen your horizons – Could extending your reach for talent worldwide help you?

At this stage, UK employers can only make contingency plans for Brexit whilst monitoring the economic impact of uncertainty on their business.

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Find and contact your local Haines Watts office

About the author

Alexandra Marriott

Alexandra’s role is two-fold; she partners with CEOs, executives and owner-managed businesses to align their people strategy with their business strategy. With her team, she has a relentless focus on any given destination with the aim of reaching it in the smartest, most commercial and economical way. She’s also a member of the Haines Watts (SEM) Board, where she leads the development and implementation of people strategy, aimed at building and retaining high performing individuals.

Earning her stripes in the motor, retail-leisure sectors and IT managed service environment, Alexandra worked across a portfolio of owner managed businesses and international finance houses, designing solutions that enabled each business to thrive. Taking a gamble in 2010, she set up her own HR consultancy which allowed her to bring her own business ideas to life. This facilitated her joining Haines Watts in 2016, bringing her portfolio and team along with her. After 2 decades in the industry, as a qualified HR professional, she continues to prove that HR is an asset.

Alexandra’s solution-focused, often inspiring others to better themselves and is a strong influencer within the business, pushing fellow board members to make smart people decisions. Recently, having become a mother, she’s now thriving from the challenge of balancing both her career aspirations and family life.

“I love spending time with my ‘partner in crime’ (Peter!), whether this be trying out new restaurants, planning holidays, or just relaxing and having a laugh together. I’m passionate about being fit and strong, both physically and mentally. Regardless of what life throws at me, I ensure I take time out to plug in some music, lift some weights or go for a bike ride.”

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