Post Event Summary: HR readiness for a post-Brexit age

HR team around a table discussing post-brexit challenges

With Brexit fast approaching and the full implications still currently unknown, it has been difficult for organisations to prepare for the impact, particularly given the recent rate of change and uncertainty.

To address these challenges and discuss how organisations – specifically HR – can improve their readiness for a post-Brexit age, INTOO in partnership with Gateley PLC, recently held a Senior HR Leaders Forum, providing an informal platform for HR leaders from various sectors to voice their challenges and concerns as well as benefit from the opportunity to learn from others.

Throughout the lunch, Gareth Wadley, Partner at Gateley PLC, shared thoughts on the latest legal developments regarding topics such as EU immigration, what employees should be doing to prepare for the likely changes and what the anticipated regime means for EU nationals already in the UK.

INTOO’s Jas Dhesi also shared her thoughts on HR’s readiness to manage the potential change in HR and the wider business, as well as discussing the impact of uncertainty on people and how organisations must take action on workforce planning and development.

The Challenge Ahead 

A common issue that ran throughout the event was the challenge organisations are facing in terms of recruiting and retaining employees; a concern highlighted by many organisations, with 44% of businesses saying it has become more difficult to fill vacancies and 34% finding difficulty in retaining staff (Labour Market Outlook Survey).


A major contributor to this issue? The number of EU nationals leaving the UK.

Recent data from the ONS suggests the number of EU nationals currently working in the UK has dropped to 2.2 Million, coining the term ‘Brexodus’, with highly skilled workers most likely to leave first. Some even reported that many of their EU workforce went home over summer and didn’t return. Could this be due to personal reasons? Or because of a more ‘hostile environment’? Or the perceived difficulty to stay post-Brexit?

Whatever the reason, HR must be clear and up-to-date on incoming legislation and have the information required to answer and ease the concerns of their EU workforce – almost half of whom (48%) are expressing insecurity about their jobs post-Brexit. Actively communicating with employees deemed to be at risk of leaving how they can apply for settled status is one easy step all organisations can take to help retain key employees. The Government’s recent change to Settlement Status fees will certainly help too.

The Recruitment Landscape

Another challenge facing HR is large volume recruitment of lower skilled workers into ‘hard to fill’ roles. Something a significant amount of organisations in the UK depend on, with some sectors expecting to make enormous adjustments to cope with the growing issue.

To deal with this particular challenge, HR and recruitment teams must adjust their thinking. They can no longer afford to turn away individuals who don’t have the right skills, particularly when recruiting for ‘hard to fill’ roles. Instead there needs to be a change in mindset, namely, upskilling and training individuals so that they have the necessary hard and soft skills required both now and in the future. Likewise, looking at the overall employee value proposition (EVP) to see what else could be offered to make organisations more attractive to potential employees is something every HR Professional agreed was a key priority.

Readiness for a Post-Brexit Age

Whatever the final outcome of Brexit, it is clear that workforce planning will be business imperative.

Organisations must take action now – not wait until 29th March – to proactively prepare their workforce, ensuring the right skills and labour are in place to meet business objectives, whatever challenges and changes may occur in the coming years.

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