Brexit has created a lot of uncertainty and worry amongst those already working, as well as those looking for work. And, in unsettling times, we believe good leadership is crucial.
In Mercer’s Global Talent Trends Study 2017, when asked what would improve their work situation, the number one element cited by the employees surveyed was ‘clear leadership’. A strong hand to steer the team through choppy waters, so to speak. To help any changes, positive or negative, occur smoothly.
Their findings, that employees are currently in need of ‘direction’, is not hard to imagine, considering any fallout from Brexit may result in skills gaps, and companies losing money through tougher trade deals, restrictions or sanctions. These things could impact an employee’s career, or reduce the chance that their potential will ever be discovered and applied.
A good leader could make all the difference; their encouragement, support, their help to challenge the status quo, their objectivity and ability to channel an employee’s energy in the right way, could help turn someone’s average career into a truly great one.
Brexit’s changes are likely to be disruptive, and have the potential to influence workplace morale (though they may also bring much-needed life into stagnant practices). A good leader could again make all the difference: communicating changes effectively, and using any change as the basis for innovation, streamlining, and ongoing improvement within their team.
Uncertainty can be something managers and leaders struggle with, but it’s on the horizon regardless. The changes that most workplaces will undergo during the next five years could have a number of implications – a shortage of talent being just one. Said Mercer’s Mark Quinn, “Although clearly aware of the negative impact Brexit is likely to have on talent availability, UK executives do not seem to realise how this will amplify the ageing workforce crisis. The demographic time bomb has already gone off; the combination of a rapidly ageing workforce and potential restrictions on migration is sending the UK towards an unprecedented labour shortage. Companies need to look intelligently at their workforce, to understand the potential impact and plan their workforce strategy.”
A workforce strategy! Does your company have one?
Wikipedia defines a workplace strategy as: the dynamic alignment of an organisation’s work patterns with the work environment to enable peak performance and reduce costs.
Sounds sensible enough. But a workforce strategy, surely, is all about a company’s people, rather than work patterns, isn’t it?
Loosely speaking, a workforce strategy incorporates work programmes, training, company culture – and a number of other elements – that go towards developing a company’s workforce so that it meets economic demand.
So, it seems clear that any changes Brexit brings will require strong, clear leadership from those able to support and steer within the company, but also a programme of development to meet the changing needs of the business (particularly if, as Mark Quinn says above, we’re going to lean more heavily on employees because of the skills and staff shortages looming). And it’s not something to consider once we’re out of Europe: forecasts and projections need to be formed now, and action taken on the results. Resilience is requisite, even if Brexit proves a boon to UK businesses.
Mercer’s survey showed that 89% of the companies they approached are planning to ‘redesign’ their structure, with very few (6%) feeling they were agile as a business to react appropriately to any change coming their way.
The biggest tasks, post-Brexit, will not necessarily be faced by those in the boardroom making the decisions, but the leaders tasked with their application. Making sure employees still feel valued when their colleagues leave and aren’t replaced, or when the business is suffering due to a difficulty in recruiting suitable employees. Helping the workforce meet their productivity targets, despite not knowing where the business may be heading in the near future. Developing each individual to believe in themselves and the longevity of their career, even though guarantees can’t be given. Someone who all the employees look to as a ‘safe pair of hands’, despite their tasks and daily routine being continually tweaked. Because what your employees think and feel will unconsciously be projected onto your clients and customers. With a reassuring leader behind them, an employee can concentrate on their work, and the consumer.
Emerge has talked in many blog posts about various approaches and trends relating to leadership, but perhaps an uncertain market and (possible) reduced stability is not the best time to employ some trendy new technique. That said, it is absolutely the right time – a crucial time – to assess the leadership within your company. Our leadership training, more than ever, could make a huge difference to businesses; we can help to develop their skills, or change thoughts and approaches that may be stale, lacking or unproductive, so that the implementation of changes within your organisation go smoothly.
Competition is fierce to start with – Brexit is one huge hurdle that could sort the wheat from the chaff and see underperforming, less resilient companies in trouble. Even a little intervention from Emerge could go a long way…don’t let Brexit hinder your company’s longer-term goals and achievements.
For more information on how Emerge can help move your business propel further than your competition, and how the challenges Brexit may bring can be turned into a positive outcome, contact us on 01329 820580, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.