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Supporting Your Staff Through Brexit Uncertainty

Written by Simon Morgan, HR Dept South East London and North Kent.

On 29 March 2019, the UK will officially withdraw from the EU. Just five months away, there is still much uncertainty about what the terms of the Brexit deal will look like – or even if they’ll be a deal at all.

For many EU workers living in the UK, such uncertainty is understandably causing some anxiety, and that can filter through into the workplace. In this month’s blog, we explore some of the ways that you can support your staff in these final few months before Brexit and beyond.

  1. Understand the scale of the problem – the smallest SMEs will probably have a pretty good idea of who in their workforce is most likely to be affected by Brexit, but as your numbers of staff creep up, it’s important to make sure that you don’t overlook anyone who may need your help. Think about conducting a workforce audit to identify exactly which of your employees are most likely to be in need of some reassurance.

 

  1. Keep on top of developments – if you ever pick up a newspaper, log onto social media, or turn on the TV, it’s pretty hard to avoid coverage of Brexit. But all news was not created equal and as an employer it’s not sufficient to have only a superficial grasp of the truth. Make sure you know what’s happening and, crucially, what the impacts of any new developments are.

 

  1. Train for consistency – make sure that all of your managers are regularly briefed on Brexit progress. They’re likely to be the first port of call for any employees with questions or concerns, so they need to understand what’s happening, and stay on message in terms of the company’s response to it.

 

  1. Be open and transparent – share information with your staff when you can, and be sure to encourage them to raise any concerns that they might have. Thoughtful, proactive communication will help to temper knee-jerk reactions.

 

  1. Provide support to affected employees – in July, the Government announced the details of its ‘settled status’ scheme, under which all EU nationals who have been lawfully resident in the UK for at least five years will be able to apply for settled status. Though not obligatory, many firms have taken the proactive approach of channelling some resource towards helping staff make applications under the scheme.

For more help in understanding how you can support your employees through Brexit, please get in touch with Simon Morgan at the HR Dept South East London and North Kent.