Brexit is, to put it mildly, an ongoing source of uncertainty for business. But, while no-one seems to know what’s going to happen, it is clear that the outcome poses the biggest talent management risk to businesses in the UK today.
So what are HR teams doing now to futureproof their talent management strategies for what is to come? HR magazine asked three very different organisations what they are doing to ensure they will have access to enough of the right talent in the future…
The recruiter: Gi Group
As one of the largest global recruitment organisations and with headquarters in Milan, Gi Group knows full well how demand for talent might be changing because of Brexit. But while its main activity is finding talent for other firms, the potential impact of Brexit means it’s also having to do its own planning internally.
“We have three strands to the business – staffing, training and HR services [coaching and outsourcing],” explains UK CEO Bev White. “Historically this means we’ve had to attract the best coaching talent – often from outside the organisation and from a wide variety of sectors. With Brexit we believe the demand for very top talent could potentially be more volatile, so we are already reaching out early to find some of the executive-level talent that we know we’ll need, and we know will need to come from Europe if we are to service our European clients.” But because volatility will also “almost certainly affect salaries”, the firm is also pursuing a strategy to enhance employee skills internally to prepare for any potential future skills gaps.
According to White, mid-managers and managers one level below are being trained how to have coaching conversations to create more concrete talent pipelines. The idea is for this group to then also train those below them to further grow capability. “We have had EU staff move back that we didn’t want to go,” says White of the 400-strong organisation. “So the aim is to ensure we minimise any further unwanted loss.”
While she acknowledges upskilling people could backfire if there are no roles to promote them into, she believes it’s still better than doing nothing. “So far we’ve been able to create enough roles, but if we’re not able to our message to our talent is that we are preparing them for when positions do open – so stick with us!”
Because she says Brexit is more an unknown-known than a known-known modelling has been based on gut feel. “We sense that by not doing anything we won’t be able to move forward, and we definitely won’t be able to grow,” she says. “Although only a few EU nationals have returned to their country of birth every lost staffer is important.” That’s why internal communication is more important too: “Everything we do is about developing people, but we want to make sure we give more feedback than ever.”