As just days remain before the extended April 12 Brexit deadline, companies around the globe are waiting with bated breath to see how the final deal/no-deal/continued delay will impact their business operations.
The uncertainty is already causing trouble for the tech industry. With questions surrounding immigration and visa policies, companies have already begun to feel the talent squeeze. London has long been a major hub for software developers, but many workers with in-demand skills have found that the safer route is to pursue other, more stable opportunities elsewhere.
As the deadline looms, it’s likely that most companies have already sketched out plans to handle whatever scenario they may face. Here are a few easily overlooked action items that can help your company and your employees feel more stable.
- Plan for various scenarios at all levels. You’ve likely already explored the top-level scenarios from a big picture perspective: no-deal exit, exit with deal or a deadline extension. But, what about at the business unit or departmental level? The reality is that not all business units may be affected. For example, a sales and marketing function in the UK may work fine, especially if it’s mostly staffed by native Brits. But key areas, like coding and development, could be a major issue, along with any third-party service providers you may use. Using a scenario-planning tool that allows you to forecast impacts at the company level as well as within each business unit can help you plan for adjustments in those specific areas.
- Assess your regulatory preparedness. If you do need to move talent to another location, the immigration and visa policies may vary depending on each employee. Some may be EU citizens, some may be Asian expats, and so on. Each of these will have specific requirements, which you must assess and prepare for in advance. Managing this process manually will be a nightmare and extremely inefficient, leaving your company stalled and employees in limbo. Having the technological capabilities in place to manage this efficiently can mean the difference between your company’s success and losing out to your better-prepared competition.
- Lock down logistics. In the event of a large-scale talent relocation, are you prepared for the logistical hurdles that go along with adjustments to payroll and taxes? What about onboarding and training procedures for new hires? And, of course there will be infrastructure needs, including basics like office space, desks and equipment. Using a relocation management platform that’s designed to handle large-scale moves can streamline this process. With built-in checklists and workflow automation, the right tool can help resolve those issues so that if you do need to pull the trigger on a mass relocation, the process will be laid out and there’s less risk of overlooking critical needs.
- Calm employee panic. If you’re worried, it’s a safe bet your employees are also worried about what the Brexit uncertainty means for them. It’s critical to let them know you’re working on scenarios and keeping up with the latest news and what it means for your company and your people. When in doubt, over communicate and field all the questions. Be sure to target messages based on their concerns. These may range from “Will I have to relocate?” to “If I don’t, but everyone else does, will my division close?” Being proactive in addressing those concerns can help stave off any talent exodus driven purely by panic.
- Address assimilation issues. As you prepare for potential talent relocation from a logistical perspective, you’ll also want to prepare from a human perspective. Whether you need to move 10 or 10,000 expats from the UK to Frankfurt, they’ll need some help getting settled. Plan for language schooling, how to help them find housing and help learn more about the city in which they’ll be living. You may have to sell them on the new location, so prepare your “pitch” with rich city and cultural information that will help ease their transition.
- Prepare to capitalize on a talent exodus. If other companies are unprepared and find themselves shedding talent, their loss could be your gain. By implementing processes and technology to manage mobility and on-boarding on the fly, you may be in a great position to hire people who get let go or who may not want to transfer to another location.
Despite a tremendous amount of confusion, with the right planning, processes and technology in place, your company can be in a much more stable position to weather the Brexit storm. In fact, as things stand at the moment, it’s likely you could even be better prepared than even the British government. For those with the right strategy, it could be business as usual.