HR remains unprepared for impact on the workforce of Brexit 0

One of the biggest impacts of the Brexit vote will be on recruitment and retention, but less than half of businesses have so far bothered to create a dedicated HR team, claims the latest Willis Towers Watson survey. The majority of companies (56 percent) instead continue to ‘wait and see’ before they take any action to prepare their organisation for Brexit. This is despite two-thirds (66 percent) of employers believing their business in the UK will be significantly affected by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union (EU), and 76 percent most worried about the impact of Brexit on the workforce. The report says that almost four-fifths (78 percent) of companies have begun a consideration of the implications of Brexit and more than half (60 percent) have conducted an assessment of what it means for key areas, but so far only 24 percent have carried out a detailed impact assessment and only a third (33 percent) have done any scenario planning.

When considering sectors the most scenario planning was seen in financial services (carried out by 45 percent of companies) and the least in technology, media and telecoms (20 percent).

Richard Veal, Director of Willis Towers Watson’s Talent and Rewards practice GB, said: “The results show that UK business is concerned about the effects of Brexit, but uncertainty appears to be hindering many companies taking immediate action. It is important that companies think about what the next steps should be and get into a more action-oriented state of mind.”

The survey of approximately 200 UK businesses took a ‘two months on’ view of employers’ thinking about the implications of the Brexit vote while looking at what organisations are planning to do to prepare their business and employees. It suggests that UK businesses’ biggest concern is the impact of Brexit on the workforce, cited by 76 percent of those questioned, organisational change cited by 51 percent, total rewards was also important, cited by 49 percent, while engagement and communication was also cited by 49 percent.

Richard Veal continued: “Minimising the impact on the workforce seems the obvious area of attention and it should be the area of immediate concern. The ability of a business to understand the number of workers affected and how it impacts the business will be crucial to any organisation going forward.”

The report also took a more in-depth look at organisational change. Half of companies (50 percent) are thinking of reassessing their current operating model and organisational structure, while just under half (47 percent) are looking at the HR implications of business disruptions or delays to corporate transactions. There is a slightly stronger trend for organisations in financial services and professional and business services, where 59 percent and 67 percent respectively are assessing implications for organisational change.

Richard Veal said: “The data implies that many businesses are not assessing the effect Brexit will have on their business structure. This is particularly noticeable in the HR space where the research shows less than half of businesses are creating a specific HR Brexit team, suggesting that HR may be lagging behind other business areas in terms of readiness.