Hot topic: How HR can prepare for a Brexit job shock, part one

Since March, the spread of COVID-19 and resulting national lockdowns have led to significant job losses around the country. However, a no-deal Brexit could lead to even more.

The country’s manufacturing industry relies heavily upon exporting goods and without a trade deal in place with the EU, factory workers’ jobs could be at risk, particularly in constituencies in the Midlands, North of England, and Wales according to Lexington Communications’ Manufacturing in the Marginals report. So, what can HR do to best prepare for a sudden Brexit job shock?

Vicky Barton, director of HR at The Growth Company

Uncertainty over the future relationship between the UK and the EU is already having a negative impact on the manufacturing industry, coupled with the disruption caused by COVID-19.

Across the country right now manufacturing CEOs and their senior leaders will be assessing the impact of this and trying to minimise the impact to business and business continuity post Brexit. My advice for HR professionals is to make sure you have a seat at that table. Be integral in the scenario planning for possible outcomes and the impact on the workforce.

One key consideration is how you can continue to attract and retain a diverse and skilled pool of talent in manufacturing, taking into account changes to legislative requirements and the likely fierce competition to secure the brightest new talent.

Having plans in place that take into account the different potential outcomes on your business is absolutely vital and a key lesson the HR industry has learnt from COVID-19.

Lucy Twomey, HR & Legal Adviser at Make UK

The manufacturing community is bracing itself for a tough winter, but careful planning and preparation can help put HR in the best possible position to brave the storm.

Faced with the prospect of a possible ‘Brexit job shock’, on top of second wave COVID-19 and various tiers of lockdown, the outlook is nothing short of challenging. A crisis plan is essential to make sure that HR has a clear strategy on how to keep forging ahead.

Obviously, crisis management will take different forms for every business, but these are the three fundamental aims I think should be common to all: Get help where and when you can. Be realistic – and careful – when it comes to the deepest cuts. And finally, protect your most valuable assets.

This article is the first part of the November/December 2020 hot topic. Click here to view part two.

This piece appears in the November/December 2020 print issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk