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4 tips for business leaders post Brexit vote - Chairman's blog

Posted by: Jayne Wogan 11 Jul 16 - 9:45AM  | Chairman's Blog

On Friday 24th June 2016, the UK electorate cast its vote to leave the EU.  Having just celebrated the 38th anniversary of the Company, Chairman Jonathan Lee reflects on how this might affect recruitment for our clients.

I don’t think anyone could have predicted the Brexit result coupled with the resignation of the Prime Minister and the subsequent withdrawal of other political leaders, plus such a strong call for the resignation of the leader of the opposition. Despite the resulting meltdown with a falling pound, significant share price reduction and financial uncertainty, life goes on in our engineering and manufacturing sectors and it’s now a great time to export to the USA and China!

Attracting, hiring and retaining the right people is a defining factor in the success of any business. We’ve seen the engineering and manufacturing sectors grow exponentially since the last recession, with many companies struggling to attract the skilled workers they need to drive future innovation and success.  One of the solutions to this has been to look further afield for candidates, both in mainland Europe and globally and the success of this approach has been a feature of the business in the last 3 years. In fact in 2015, more than 15% of our placements were overseas candidates.

Whilst the bigger picture of how Brexit will impact the sector unfolds and uncertainty prevails, there are a few key things that employers can do to steady the ship.

Focus on employee engagement and retention

When people are understandably nervous about the future, they seek information and reassurance from the management team.  It is important to communicate with your staff, acknowledge their fears, give them an opportunity to contribute to coming up with ideas and involve them in any changes. Share good news and business wins, however small. The psychological contract between employer and employee hinges on trust and mutual obligation, if you look after them, they will do the same.

Improve engagement with candidates in the hiring process

With many firms still competing for highly skilled engineers to support critical programmes, the candidate experience is more important than ever in ensuring you get the right people.  The best candidates are already in employment and may be reluctant to risk a move in a time of economic uncertainty.  The impression they get from first engagement with you as a potential employer can be the deciding factor in their decision to join.

How do you achieve this? Work with a recruitment partner that truly understands your business needs and represents your brand in the most positive way.  Adopt slicker interview processes that sell the opportunity and showcase the business.  Timely and transparent feedback and communication creates trust, confidence and enthusiasm.

Focus on business agility

Be alive to opportunities! Many businesses will need to adapt their operations in the wake of the referendum, ensure you have the right people to steer decision making and the right skills to drive change through the business, whilst keeping your teams engaged.  Contract staffing and interim management solutions can offer the flexible resource you might need without the risk associated with hiring on a more permanent basis.

Engage with the industry
Working with external industry bodies such as the EEF, Made in the Midlands, SMMT, IMechE or the IET to name but a few, is a great way to keep yourself informed as the future of Britain outside the EU becomes clearer.  These organisations can represent the best interests of engineering and manufacturing firms, and can get your voice and opinion heard.  They can also give you early warning of any changes that might affect you so that you can be proactive in facing these and finding solutions.

I am sure many of you, like myself, had reasons to support both camps and were faced with a heart vs. head situation.  I am an optimist and I feel some good will come out of what might well be perceived as the wrong decision.  I question whether we should have had the referendum and why such a small majority should lead to such upheaval, but we now have a real opportunity and will just have to make the most of it by getting the best trading terms we can from Europe and further exploit the global opportunities elsewhere.  Now, more than ever, we need our Government to support our engineering and manufacturing industries.
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