Brexit: The job market aftermath

victoria worrell

25th July 2016


On 24th June 2016, UK citizens woke up to the result that by a marginal 52% Britain had voted to leave the EU. A few hours after the vote was finalised David Cameron resigned and the future of Britain felt uncertain. To some the possibility that their future plans had been put on hold or worse, transformed completely seemed to be one that could now actually happen as a consequence of the vote.

We decided to find out whether or not our candidates were feeling the ripple effect of uncertainty within their careers and spoke to 60 people who work in London’s IT and Digital sector to gauge their initial reaction. From these results we are able to see a snapshot of how employees feel and what companies could do to retain or attract key staff.

Current job security confidence

A surprising number of our participants feel that Brexit has affected confidence in the sustainability of their current job (47% Yes, 31% No, 22% Unsure). Change is never an easy thing but the unknown of being out of Europe has understandably led to UK workers having concerns about whether their current position is safe. As Britain “appears to be a passenger in a slow motion crash” – as one candidate likened the present situation to be – it’s clear that companies need to reinstate confidence, control and direction amongst their employees so that they don’t start to look elsewhere for the security they need.

Being honest and transparent with your staff is something that should be carried out regardless, but during a period when there are more questions than answers it is imperative that you don’t go silent and turn away from the issues that are going on around you. Let your employees know that you understand people can feel uneasy and while the reality is that very little has currently changed, communicating with employees reduces their emotional reaction.

The power of having face to face contact with business senior heads will be more reassuring than an email being sent round. Hosting an open Q&A will create a safe environment for your staff to freely discuss their anxieties and fears and will also help you to understand why your team are feeling this way. Events like this gives you the ability to work out how best to overcome their worries and build confidence back up in your company.

Many candidates in the survey expressed that their drop in confidence derived from the perceived fear that companies will be pausing growth and no longer be looking into new investments. Discussing the businesses future plans and expansion will stop your team jumping to their own conclusions – quash any rumours at their earliest point.

The perceived detrimental impact on careers going forward

It is no surprise that if employees do not feel confident about their current job status, long term career prospects may start to look a little bleak too. Candidates perceive the situation to get worse over time rather than better, an extreme example is that one participant believing that they will have to move to another country for the role they want.

Restoring confidence in your workforce may not completely eradicate the feeling that Brexit has had a detrimental impact on careers. By making sure that your staff are happy and developing within your company should be one of your main goals.

Taking advantage of this uncertainty

The flip side is that you can take advantage of the negative outlook when looking to hire. Don’t stop your plans for expansion, if people in your own company are not feeling confident this will be the same within many. Get your communication right with your employees to retain them and you can then get access to those candidates who feel little confidence in their role (47%) and possibly those that are unsure (22%) of the Brexit vote on their job role.

The participants that were evaluating their career would be tempted by new opportunities if the role and company meet what they’re looking for – which during this moment in time will be internal career development, training and overall job security. When businesses put a hold on hiring it sends out a message that they lacked preparation for the vote. Be bold and continue with your plans to recruit if you can. If your competitors slow down on hiring yet you continue you will have access to talent that others are currently overlooking due to fear or uncertainty.

Candidates are looking – but they have key demands. 48% of the people surveyed are pro-actively reviewing their job status compared to 14% who were not – they will not be in a hurry to leave one role unless the new position has everything they need, and then some, so they are not putting their career at risk.

You have the ability to retain and attract new candidates through the same strategy. Show your company’s defiance in the face of uncertainty, continuing your employee expansion and developing your current staff’s career through paid training programmes and promotion. This will not only make you look appealing externally to people that are not feeling confident in their current role but this type of internal marketing will help to retain your staff.

Our survey results suggest that if you don’t highlight career progression and security in your company, you could put yourself at risk at not hiring the people you need and losing employees who are willing to move in order to safeguard themselves.

Lee Dempster, CEO of JITR says:

“The vote result certainly came as a surprise to business in London, which of course we now know voted to remain. There is clearly a significant amount of uncertainty around but little evidence to support that this is anything other than short term reaction currently.

The survey gives us a snapshot of candidate’s feelings. 47% feel less confident in their current role as a result of Brexit and 48% are actively reviewing their job status’. What we can draw from this, is that IT and Digital professionals may not plan on staying in their current company if this perception is left unchecked. So employers have a job to do to retain these employees – and time is ticking to get this done.

Equally, companies that are hiring can access talent that may not have been active a month ago – providing they get their message correct. It makes for a very active market space.”

At Just IT Recruitment, we can help you with your business growth plans and find the right talent you’re looking for. Give us a call today on 020 7426 9835.

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