It is undeniable that Brexit marks the biggest geopolitical shakeup for generations. It is a topic that dominated public attention last year, with the news agenda eagle-eyed on parliament’s struggle to deliver a unanimously satisfactory exit deal. Similarly, when it came to the end of the year election campaign, the majority of the debate centered around Brexit rhetoric and how to weather turbulent times ahead.
As we edge closer to the official departure date and the beginning of a transition period on January 31st, it is vital that UK businesses take steps to prepare for the future.
Many of the country’s heartland industries, from hospitality to transport, rely heavily on international workers, meaning that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU has created significant people issues for many employers. Research has shown that nine in ten UK employers are already struggling to find skilled workers. What’s more, evidence from one of Quinyx’s studies indicates that under any Brexit scenario, UK employers of blue-collar and manual workers can expect to lose – on average – 18% of these workers. And this is on top of an already tight labor market, with employment levels at record highs.
To ensure that UK companies can cope with additional strains on their staffing and retention levels, it is vital that they optimize working conditions for both the current and prospective workforce. The good news is that there are steps companies can take to help improve their recruitment levels and ensure they are doing as much as possible to navigate the volatile period ahead.
Flexibility: a vital, but simple, part of Britain’s Brexit survival guide
In squeezed sectors like retail and hospitality, increasing wages to retain and attract employees isn’t an option due to the introduction of the living wage – which has recently increased – and the restrictions that come in low margin industries. Therefore, employers must look for more creative solutions to help them find and keep hold of good people.
At Quinyx, we believe that employers can engage and attract employees by empowering their workforce and giving them a voice to choose as and when they want to work. By presenting employees with the flexibility to create their desired work-life balance, employers will find themselves with staff members who increasingly enjoy their work, in turn becoming brand ambassadors invested in their company’s goals and ambitions.
What’s more, our “Work that keeps the UK working” study revealed that flexibility is one of the core factors for solving the country’s productivity crisis, with nearly a fifth of respondents revealing that they would likely be more productive at work if presented with flexible working opportunities. If flexible working can generate a revitalized and more content workforce, we cannot afford for it to be overlooked as a viable business strategy to pilot companies through the volatile period ahead.
A vision for a flexible Britain
We hear time and time again from employers that flexible working results in escalating costs and scheduling nightmares. This is a misconception. By employing the correct tools and technologies, flexible working can be far easier to implement than many expect. Technology can reduce lengthy admin processes and allow employees to collaborate with their bosses on a schedule that suits everyone, as well as reducing expenditure and boosting employee dedication.
As we head into a new era post-EU, it’s vital that the UK’s businesses shift their mindset when it comes to flexible working. Flexibility is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ for employers – in fact, for newer entrants into the workforce flexibility has proven to be more important that stability or even salary. Gen Z and millennial workers demand more control and convenience when managing their schedules and as they now account for almost half of the UK workforce, it is imperative that UK companies offer this demographic the flexibility they require.
Hard Brexit doesn’t mean hard times ahead
Indeed, Brexit has presented the UK with the biggest bump in the road for decades –but leaving the European Union doesn’t have to be the chaotic nightmare that we all seem to be anticipating. There are tactics that employers can deploy for retaining top talent during this rocky period – and flexibility tops the list.
By embracing the power of flexibility, UK businesses can be better prepared to navigate the future, supported by a strong and motivated workforce.
About the author: Quinyx was founded in 2005 by CEO Erik Fjellborg after a summer spent working at McDonald’s. After witnessing how difficult it can be for managers to sort shifts manually, Erik built one of the world’s first fully web-based Workforce Management solutions to do the heavy lifting. McDonald’s loved Erik’s solution and became Quinyx’s first customer.