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Preparing for a no deal Brexit - People and Change

Neil Hughes Neil Hughes

It is important to minimise the potential disruption to your ‘Business As Usual’ with respect to Brexit insofar as possible and practicable, and be able to continue to deliver to your clients requirements seamlessly throughout the transitional period.

This may be enabled through a strong people focused strategy, and by ensuring your people have the necessary skills, knowledge and behaviors to continue to deliver results during a time of uncertainty and change.

Firstly, ensure that EU citizens within your workforce are aware of the right to remain and apply before the deadline (31 December 2020 in event of no deal). Your business should consider providing support to employees impacted, such as:

  • advice clinics;
  • time to complete online forms; and
  • giving access to an Android device for uploading documentation.

There are around 3.6 million EU citizens living in the UK, however, by mid- August 2019 only one million people have applied for “Settled Status” under the EU Settlement Scheme – just five months after the Scheme fully opened. Whether or not the UK and EU reach a deal before 31 October 2019, EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK will have until 31 December 2020 to apply.  British or Irish citizens do not need to apply.

Secondly, upskill your current workforce - to ensure your employees have the necessary skills to deal with any future changes as a result of Brexit. This could include specific skills on customs, supply chain or new systems. In particular, you may wish to make use of current government customs training grants of £750 to £1,050 per person and 50% - 70% of the cost of customs training. This can be used to pay for Grant Thornton customs training.

Other skills such as resilience, dealing with uncertainty, and leading change will also be important in the current environment.

Thirdly, seek to position yourself as an employer of choice - by ensuring that your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is as attractive as it can be. Attract and retain talent by developing and reviewing remuneration packages, benefits and incentive schemes with an increased focus on non-cash benefits. Top talent will help you to navigate the period of transition, so it is important make your EVP as strong as possible.

Finally, communicate clearly -  In the absence of information from their employer, staff will reach out to other, potentially less reliable, sources of information. To head this off, create and implement a robust and effective engagement plan with employees, to provide accurate information to reassure and maintain their focus and trust with your organisation. It is important that your staff feel that you will continue to act in their very best interests over the short, medium and long term through this uncertain period, and to know that the organisation is proactively preparing for Brexit.