Since 52% of the British public voted for Brexit last year, there have been clamours of catastrophe at every corner. The pound will tank; companies will leave; we’ll lose the best and brightest Brits to Europe and block international talent with heavy-handed immigration laws.

As formal Brexit negotiations begin in earnest, it’s impossible to predict exactly how the future will look. However, emerging trends in the labour market illuminate the road ahead for our economy, businesses and jobs.


The talent shortage: serious or spurious?

The most recent CIPD/Hays Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey shows that 75% of HR professionals are currently experiencing recruitment difficulties. They anticipate that this will get worse: the same number predict that competition for well-qualified talent will increase in the coming years.

A study by LinkedIn tells the same story with different data. The attractiveness of UK jobs has fallen, both to British and international recruits – including by 10% in the last month alone. At the same time, top UK professionals are increasingly searching for international roles.

This warning has been echoed, it seems, throughout every industry: 90% of law firm partners are concerned about losing talent to international firms; engineering heavyweights have warned that Brexit will exacerbate the current skill shortage of 1.8 million; CEOs in banking, tech, construction, and hospitality are among the many who have added their voices to the crowd.

Unfortunately, their fears are well-founded. The number of foreign recruits in the UK candidate pool has halved since Brexit – a worrying trend in a country where 10% of workers, including a third of those in the all-important tech industry, are international.

And there are no shortage of countries waiting to snap up British recruits: Ireland, France, Germany and Singapore are among the many who’ll be competing for the UK’s top talent.



Will businesses with few international employees be affected?

Most likely, yes. Even if a company employs or plans to employ few EU nationals, the dearth of talent and reduced attractiveness of UK jobs means a more competitive labour market for all workers. If employees aren’t happy, they’ll find it easier than ever to find something new.

Paired with the fact that a quarter of UK employees are actively seeking a new job and two thirds are considering jumping ship, the future doesn’t look rosy for retention.

If companies are to weather the storm that’s looming, they must take action now. Vital to that is understanding what employees value when choosing a job – or choosing to leave.


What influences someone’s choice to join or leave a company?

Generally, employees either leave because they’re being ‘pushed’ out of the company, or because they’re being ‘pulled’ elsewhere – or a combination of both.

Common push factors:

  1. Poor management and lack of leadership: 4 in 10 blame their company’s leaders for their departure, often related to micro-management or a lack of clarity about expectations and performance
  2. Feeling undervalued accounts for 34% of unhappy employees
  3. Lack of career progression causes a third to jump ship
  4. Lack of training and development opportunities causes 1 in 5 people to look elsewhere
  5. Lack of decision-making power

Top pull factors:

  1. Better pay motivates half of those who plan to move jobs
  2. Opportunities for career advancement
  3. Opportunities to develop skills
  4. Better or more flexible hours, often to accommodate family or a change in circumstances
  5. Inspiring company values are particularly important to Millennials



Which strategies will increase retention and improve recruitment?

In unstable times, HR needs to be alert and awake to changes in the workforce; attentive to employees’ needs, desires and ambitions as well as their talents and skills.

They can’t do this unless they develop mechanisms to measure, analyse and progress their recruitment and retention strategies. Solutions should combine tracking turnover rates with more evaluative strategies, such as conducting in-depth exit interviews and seeking regular feedback from potential recruits and current employees.

Skills gaps can be addressed through a programme of professional development opportunities – a strategy which will also benefit (and thus help to secure) existing talent.

Nigel Heap, Managing Director of Hays UK & Ireland, notes the need for focus on increased training as we move towards an EU exit. ‘With the skills required for roles changing and an emphasis on strong leadership, digital and commercial awareness skills, providing professional development and training is key to improving retention and helping to fill skills gaps.’

In light of this, developing your HR department is the first step to ensuring a robust talent policy. Comprehensive courses such as CIPD’s Level 5 and Level 7 Diplomas will help teams meet the varied challenges to come with confidence, while focused postgraduate-level courses such as the Advanced Award in Resourcing and Talent Management target talent specifically.

Ultimately, despite a changing job market, the essentials remain the same. Companies who minimise push factors and maximise pull factors will increase the chance that that can keep and attract the talent they need - no matter how Brexit affects the labour market.


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