There remains huge uncertainty over the impact of Brexit on the UK market, as well as the timescales in which a deal may ultimately be concluded. The minutiae of the deal will likely change right up to the eleventh hour – and so focusing on their impact on your recruitment team could prove highly frustrating. So what can a recruitment team trying to prepare for the impact of Brexit realistically do today?

In talking to corporate recruitment leaders across the country, we’re consistently hearing two key elements of Brexit that will have the greatest impact on the recruitment community. The good news is, both are elements that you can make contingency plans to address should they be needed. So what are these two key elements – and how can you prepare best to deal with any eventuality?

The two key factors to look at are i) Brexit’s impact on growth and ii) Brexit’s impact on talent shortages. The first of these acknowledges that Brexit has the potential to materially impact overall economic growth – and therefore the demand for employees; in addition, it will undoubtedly impact different sectors to varying degrees – meaning changes in demand for employees will not be uniform across the economy. Likely to be just as important for Corporate Recruiters is the potential deterioration in talent availability, with any change in freedom of movement harming a business’s ability to find and attract the necessary talent for the business.

Brexit’s impact on growth

There is a growing unease that Brexit will produce – indeed is already producing – a worsening economic outlook. We’re already seeing declining real wages, with the fall in the £ raising the cost of imports and therefore pushing up inflation. Economists fear that consumer demand could stall if the population feels financially squeezed by the combination of rising prices and anaemic wage growth. So it’s especially important that Recruitment teams maintain close communication with hiring managers in order to be alerted to any impending change in hiring demand that was unforeseen.

Things aren’t nearly as clear-cut as this though. The balance of the economy is changing. On one side we have jobs apparently deserting the UK as a result of Brexit – most notably in the banking sector. But there are also sectors benefiting enormously from Brexit, most notably those that are significant exporters and whose goods and services are now far cheaper in overseas markets as a result of the declining value of the pound. As a consequence, there has arguably never been a time when Corporate Recruitment Leaders had more to gain from being party to all economic forecasting being undertaken within the business – and tuning in to what specialist industry economists are predicting too.

Brexit’s impact on talent shortages

Since one of the main reasons for the Brexit vote was a desire to squeeze immigration volumes, we can take it as a given that freedom of movement is going to be at least compromised going forwards. In fact, talent shortages have already become more acute even before this has happened. NHS figures show there’s been a collapse in overseas nurses coming to Britain since the vote. A tour of Business schools reveals that MBAs are now ruling out the UK as a career destination, deeming it too hostile to overseas staff.

As recruiters, we’re already starting to see Brexit’s impact on the availability of talent. Right now that’s a function of people believing the UK is no longer the welcoming home for foreign workers that it once was. But add into the mix the possibility that Europeans will need visas to work here – or be time-limited in the duration of their stay – and it’s not hard to picture an economy in which talent shortages are the single biggest hurdle to achieving growth and greater prosperity.

The good news is that there’s a great deal here that recruitment leaders can do to prepare for this eventuality. In particular, talent shortages are a problem at the economy-wide level. The country will face talent shortages – but there will be clear winners and losers when it comes to individual companies. To be one of the winners, it’s essential that recruitment leaders bolster their team’s ability to source candidates – and to convert those candidates more successfully into hires.

In terms of candidate sourcing, there are two angles of attack to pursue in parallel. Firstly, recruitment teams should receive the training and be granted access to the tools that will allow them to become world-class sourcing teams. When talent shortages bite, it’s those who can uncover candidates that others cannot who will emerge least scathed. But secondly, recruitment teams should also identify partners who can bring in additional recruiting resource at short notice to bolster their teams or who can support the business by undertaking candidate sourcing assignments on an as-needed basis. When talent shortages do strike, you’ll need to be in a position to respond – fast.

Finding candidates alone isn’t enough though. Your business has to become best in class at end-to-end recruitment. The duration of your interviewing process needs to be whittled down to be amongst the shortest in your industry. Your candidate engagement efforts need to be improved, so that the odds of strong candidates being interested in your role – and ultimately accepting an offer – are ratcheted up. Your onboarding and mentoring programs need to be enhanced, so that the average tenure in positions is increased and the pressure on your recruitment team to hire replacements is eased. All this is within your control, but it necessitates acting now rather than waiting until the Brexit deal is all but done. So the key question for you to answer now is: what actions are we going to take today to make our recruitment function truly world class and able to overcome whatever challenges Brexit may throw at us?

We hope this article has proved thought-provoked and helped you determine some action steps you can take to be better prepared for Brexit. Should you wish to discuss any aspect of your strategy with one of our team, feel free to call on +44 20 7748 4393