Recruitment planning amidst Brexit uncertainty

According to the latest Business Barometer by Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, confidence amongst businesses in the East of England increased in April, despite having fallen to the lowest level in England the month before. However, the report did show that employers remain cautious about hiring new staff.

Despite many details about the European Union departure still unknown, there are equally positive reports regarding current and future predictions for the Eastern region’s economy post Brexit. The Irwin Mitchell and Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) ‘UK Powerhouse’ report predicted that Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich will be in the top ten UK cities with the fastest growing economies in 2020. Here at Pure, we are continuing to support many clients with the recruitment and development of highly engaged employees and we are still seeing many organisations growing and investing in our region. Regardless of the many political and economic uncertainties, unemployment levels have never been lower, at 2.9% for the East of England compared to the 3.8% national average. This means the competition for talent remains fierce and organisations still need to work hard to attract and retain the best employees.

While we also recognise that some businesses may be cautious about making any permanent hiring decisions until more is known, there are still many areas of recruitment planning employers can focus on, whatever the outcomes.

Being open and transparent

The lack of clarity about Brexit is not only an issue for business leaders, it affects all employees. Whether they are EU nationals living in the UK, colleagues of EU nationals or concerned about the potential commercial impact and how this could affect their role, career progression and workload. A new ‘Brexit: Age of Uncertainty’ report by Right Management found that just 11% of UK employees felt their organisation had clearly communicated its Brexit plans and that 42% wanted more clarity on how Brexit could impact their role. To focus on maintaining employee engagement and the retention and recruitment of high-calibre employees, business leaders can be transparent in communications and openly share details of plans in place which prepare for different outcomes, covering possible threats and opportunities.

Workforce planning

New immigration and trade rules post-Brexit may affect business sectors and job roles differently. If there are fewer people from the European Economic Area working in the UK it could lead to a possible talent shortfall and an increase in recruitment competition. Equally, the potential opportunity for economic upturns through new trade agreements could also increase the contest for top talent, with organisations seeking more staff to manage the increase in demand. Whatever the outcomes, because we are currently experiencing below national average levels of unemployment, even if there is a short-term dip in our local economy, employers in our region are still likely to be faced with a skills shortage. The CIPD has compiled a Preparing for Brexit through workforce planning guide for businesses. It recommends that organisations take a much more proactive approach to preparing for possible outcomes through methodical workforce planning. This will help them to understand more about where the risks and opportunities will come from and how they can ensure they have the resources to respond.

Focus on staff retention and the opportunity to build existing talent

Investing in keeping existing employees engaged and motivated, and in supporting talented people to progress, will help businesses face less pressure to recruit externally. Employee retention can be improved by numerous different factors from evolving workplace culture through to providing increased career development opportunities, reviewing reward and recognition and providing the opportunity for people to work in a role with real purpose. To understand where any improvements could be made, start by asking employees for feedback or get in touch with Pure for a free employee engagement health check. This will help you to understand what really drives and motivates your staff and what changes could be made to boost engagement and their likelihood of staying and progressing with your organisation.   

Enhance your employer brand

An attractive employer brand, with a clear set of values and an attractive company culture in place, will help organisations to compete for top talent. Your employer brand should accentuate the positives, but it also needs to be realistic. A confidential staff survey will help you to understand your current brand and can be used to make any positive changes needed. Once you are confident about the brand you are looking to project, this can be shared with potential candidates. We help our clients to achieve this by working with them to evolve their employee brand and by creating a bespoke microsite which tells the story behind the business and promotes its unique benefits. Our aim is to give prospective employees a real feel for what it would be like to work for the business and because our consultants really take the time to understand the organisation, we act as its brand ambassadors when meeting potential candidates as well. External accolades such as our Best Employers Eastern Region awards and accreditations will also inevitably enhance an organisation’s reputation. Our research shows that businesses with these types of employer-focussed accreditations typically receive twice as many applications when recruiting for a role.

Temporary solutions

In times of uncertainty, recruiting people on a flexible basis not only maintains the skills and experience needed in the short term but is a great opportunity to bring in a fresh perspective. Here at Pure, we support organisations to recruit temporary staff and fixed-term contracts across all levels. Our network of highly experienced temps, freelancers and consultants can usually start a new role within a matter of days and make an immediate difference by providing strategic skills sets and experience for particular projects. In some cases, employing temps can also lead to meaningful hires in the long run. It allows you to assess suitability for the role, team fit and skill set, prior to hiring someone on a permanent contract when the political and economic conditions become clearer.

Contact us for expert advice on permanent or temporary recruitment, a free employee engagement health check or for support in evolving and promoting your employer brand to attract top talent.

About the author

Lynn is Executive Director of Pure and leads Pure Executive with over 25 years recruiting for executive appointments. Lynn supports East of England-based businesses with senior management and Board level recruitment. Lynn leads the Best Employer Eastern Region Initiative and the Women In Leadership Programme both of which are aimed at helping companies and people to develop.  Lynn is a founder of Pure alongside Ian Walters, CEO, and COO Gill Buchanan.

 Lynn Walters profile picture

Written by

Lynn Walters

Lynn is a founding Director of Pure and leads Pure Executive. She has over 25 years’ experience recruiting for executive appointments, and helps east of England-based businesses with senior management and board-level recruitment. Lynn also leads our Best Employers Eastern Region initiative and Women’s Leadership Programme, both of which help companies and people develop.

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