These days the upcoming Brexit is being heatedly discussed. And the reason I’m getting involved in the discussion too is rather obvious: The Brexit will have a massive impact on the field of Human Resources in the short, medium and long term. Therefore I will today be looking at the challenges facing companies and their HR departments due to the Brexit.
What does the Brexit mean for companies in Germany? It is rather obvious that production and trade will now become even more difficult. However, what does it mean for companies themselves, for the employees and for the HR department? First, employees of companies that are domiciled in the UK and Europe will suddenly have colleagues who are located not in the common EU but abroad. And that will have an impact on travel and travel budgets, and probably also change Europeans’ and Britons’ perception of each other. What has to be carefully observed is whether there are any differences in how people deal with each other after the Brexit, whether there are critical remarks or – in the worst case – even hostilities. Moreover, the more or less open question is whether companies will withdraw from the UK and what this could mean for colleagues and teams. Another concern relates to economic development. If business breaks down in the UK, will staff have to be laid off, possibly even at home?
HR managers in the affected companies should ideally already think about these issues of change management now. How can they help employees through this phase? How can they alleviate fears and ensure that motivation and productivity do not suffer?
Furthermore, approaches must be found to incorporate British employees in the personnel processes. If a company already has other employees outside of Europe, this is easy. However, if the Brexit causes this situation for the first time, it will be more complicated, since processes are added that did not exist before. Work permits and visas are only a small part of that. For instance, career steps that are associated with working in London, for example, will suddenly be less attractive than before. On the other hand, British employees may even start lining up to get a job in the European Union. And if, for example, employees who have been working in the UK come back in larger numbers, this may raise problems in terms of space. In this respect, home offices could be a viable solution.
The HR department should therefore first ensure that intensive communication takes place with the employees in order to ensure that the rumour mill stops turning and the booming economy does not inflict damage on itself through uncertainties and assumptions. In this respect the situation is similar to a divestment, while it concerns not an area of business, but an entire country. And if a company decides to withdraw from the United Kingdom, all functions and divisions are first to be remodelled in such a fashion as to make that step as smooth as possible. Sounds simple and it actually is – if you prepare well …