Brexit advice to companies: don’t panic!

FT business writer Emma Jacob identifies staff anxieties around Brexit uncertainty.
Paul Lewis
Apr 12, 2017

This is particularly pertinent to highly-qualified EU professionals, many of whom are now asking whether they will eventually have to leave the UK, or if they will be first in line for redundancy. Many UK citizens, especially those in the finance sector and with young families, worry that their jobs might move onshore. One organisational psychologist notes how rumours ‘can stoke fears about relocation and restructuring, impact employee commitment and engagement at work and reduce productivity.’ It can also create unhealthy competition within a company.

Unfortunately, too few companies are prepared when it comes to helping and reassuring their unsettled staff. Echoing FT|IE Corporate Learning Alliance’s advice to its clients, the article notes how companies can do a lot to re-assure their EU27 staff. Most importantly, communication ‘is a business imperative’. Even if the outcome of Brexit negotiations is unpredictable, companies can at the very least show willing and help affected staff with the UK’s 85-page residency application form, for example.

Communication is a two-way street: it’s equally vital that employees are encouraged to ask questions. Many will follow the news and react poorly or misinterpret the twists and turns of negotiations, without bringing up the issues with their bosses. Managers need to know what’s on their staff’s minds. ‘People panic when managers act like they don’t understand’ so the company message, from the CEO to HR directors and line managers, must be consistent and comprehensive.

Paul Lewis

Editorial Director at Headspring