Article

Is your workforce ready for Brexit change?

The way we work, as we know it, is changing, both exponentially and fundamentally. The new age of ‘machine learning’, ‘predictive analytics’, ‘robotics’ and ‘big data’ are bringing us, like it or not, to new frontiers in terms of both organisational benefits and challenges.

Then adding Brexit to the mix - an imminent monumental geo-political event, certainly makes for an interesting journey ahead!

Brexit is expected to be the single most significant disruptor to the UK, Irish and EU economies for generations. With less than 12 months to go until we formally make our exit from the European Union (EU), organisations are working night and day to try and translate what this means for them in real terms, and how they do business beyond March 2019. Much of the detail remains unknown, perhaps even for Teresa May, David Davis and Leo Varadkar. Whether there will be a soft or a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is not entirely clear as yet, but what is clear is that major organisational change is on the horizon, for business on both sides of the border.

Perhaps the key questions keeping CEOs awake at night is; are my people ready for Brexit and the transitional challenges it will bring? How will my workforce population evolve post Brexit; and how can I retain a strong talent pipeline in the times of uncertainty that lie ahead. Some might say that there will be tremendous opportunities arising from Brexit, while others will take the view that therein lies great risk, depending on talent pool flexibility and transferability both regionally and legislatively.

What is clear though, is that organisations need to embrace the change that Brexit will bring. They need to be in a strong position to change the way they work, develop new operational efficiencies and to have the capability and capacity to respond to change rapidly as opportunities and challenges present themselves.

But, how do organisations achieve this? Essentially, new ways of working will be critical, particularly those embracing digital technology, as workforces adapt to working across borders.

Another key question; is Brexit going to be transitional for my people or indeed transformational? But what’s the difference one might ask? On one hand transition needs to be managed, whilst on the other, transformation needs to be led. And with each of these come specific ‘people challenges’, in terms of knowledge, skills and behaviours.

Whether transitional or transformational, in order to thrive in the ‘new’ economic landscape outside of the EU, an organisation needs to have the commercial capability and resilience to deal with change and uncertainty. Key members of staff will need to possess strong negotiation skills as new contracts are drawn up; and be able to translate into practice new global business partnerships as they seek to begin trading with new economies and cultures, in what will be the new norm.

Whilst undoubtedly ‘machine learning’ and ‘predictive analytics’ will help with this change journey, it’s ultimately how your workforce embrace this change, that will determine success or failure.