HR & Management

200 days until Brexit: How will you retain and attract the best talent?

5 min read

10 September 2018

Reporter, Real Business

Brexit policies may be ever-shifting, but SMEs can encourage European employees to join them by setting a confident tone across websites and during interviews.

The Brexit debate has unleashed a flurry of conjecture, sentiment and white noise onto business owners. Years on, the public, and it appears the government, are no closer to establishing what it’s going to look like.

Now facing a 200-day count-down to the Brexit D-Day, SMEs will place retaining talent from the continent at the top of the agenda.

Whatever our political views, the only way forward for SMEs is to be proactive, positive and look ahead in order to maintain a pool of high-level employees. What is needed is a blueprint for SME employers on how to encourage the applications of disruptive (and often multilingual) candidates from the continent despite and in-spite of Brexit.

Brexit is a highly emotive topic with little room for facts. Businesses must try and project their own positive rhetoric in response. For SMEs looking to the future, establishing a strong, uniform and convincing company policy on employment post-Brexit is key.

Don’t shy away from the ‘B’ word

To encourage applications from a varied and high-level talent pool, companies must work to remove the barrier of Brexit stigma during the 200-day countdown.

By making clear reference to the political issue on their websites, businesses can put forward a clear narrative, including acknowledging the reality of Brexit and reassuring potential candidates that there will be opportunities to discuss related matters before and during interviews.

This will allow businesses to project an impression of professionalism and corporate calm.

Be assertive

This ‘waiting game’ period provides businesses with the perfect opportunity to discuss employment rights and recruitment strategies following the Brexit deal. Senior SME staff should take the time to outline clear hypothetical routes the company should take when a deal is reached. If these points have been agreed upon, they should be made clear on company websites and at interview stages with EU candidates.

This should reassure prospective employees that the company has a clear and concise agenda on employment rights for EU nationals. This should include their stance on protecting the employment rights of EU nationals already employed with the company whilst also creating an attractive environment for candidates from Europe.

Be positive and vocal, even in a ‘worst case scenario’

Don’t be nervous about talking about the future following the Brexit deal, it’s the reality. To fashion this reality in a semi-positive way for EU candidates, employers must remind them that if EU nationals are already employed with a British business, they are more likely to be able to remain in the country.

This should help EU candidates remain positive about employment in Britain, and may encourage more people to apply for jobs idespite the political uncertainty.

Put your money where your mouth is

The post-deal landscape will likely be littered with mounting visa and ‘settled-status’ applications from European citizens wanting to remain in the UK. In order to help your best and brightest remain in the country – and in your company – employers must start budgeting for this probable reality now so they can lend a helping hand to those they value.

Positivity sells

No doubt there will be numerous statements made by the government on the rights of EU nationals, including their rights to settle and work in the UK following the Brexit deal. Unfortunately for SMEs and all other businesses, they will have little choice over how these rights will look.

The only thing they can do is something that businesses have always done; convince clients, including potential EU employee candidates, via their own media and within candidate interviews, that there are still great opportunities for them.

Crucially, employers must ensure that they will do all in their power to attract and retain the best workers, no matter where they are from.