With the parliament vote on Brexit on the 11th December and a survey of the Recruitment Leaders 100 members about its effect on recruitment, what are the possible impacts of Brexit on Talent Attraction and how can TA teams plan for the various scenarios?

Let’s start with the three possible outcomes:

  • Hard Brexit – no deal is achieved.
  • Soft Brexit – the deal on the table and focus of the vote (though support seems weak).
  • Remain – probably after another referendum.

Regardless of your views, it makes sense to plan for each possible outcome and consider the likely effects.

The two key drivers that we need to take into account are economic effect and availability (movement) of labour.

The former will affect consumer spending, business investment and how well our companies do – i.e. are we growing and hiring or laying people off?

The latter will affect how readily available talent is, based on the ability to move across borders.

These form the basis for the (short term) demand and supply of talent.

Clearly if business is booming (demand for staff increases), but if there is less talent available then it becomes much harder to hire and wage inflation will be one of the likely effects of this.

Interestingly, in all three scenarios the two drivers (economic effect and ease of movement) move together in the same direction.


Economic Effect*

Ease of Movement of Talent

Hard Brexit

Growth reduced by 10.5% over 5 years

Reduced significantly

Soft Brexit

Growth reduced by 3.9% over 15 years



Growth remains the same

No change

* Based on Bank of England assessments vs. today’s assessments.

As long as the relative percentage changes between both drivers are the same then in theory there should be no difference over all.

Yesterday’s survey of the Recruitment Leaders 100 members asked: “How will recruitment demands be affected post Brexit?”

  • 8% said it will stay the same.
  • 6% said it will increase.
  • 6% said it will decrease.

This, however, does not give the full story. Any Brexit – hard or soft – will affect certain jobs and sectors harder than others.

Imagine you employ drivers or warehouse workers and 60% of them are European nationals. In any Brexit scenario, regardless of any economic downturn, you are going to have to find new ways to attract staff.

Areas where there is a high percentage of non-UK nationals doing jobs which already tend to be hard to recruit for (e.g. social care, gig economy, drivers, hospitality, IT, scientists etc.) are likely to be made worse in any Brexit scenario.

Arguably, a soft Brexit will create the most difficult scenario from a talent attraction perspective. There will be a relatively greater impact on the movement of talent than there would be on the economic health of the country. Therefore, the labour market will become tighter.

If we end up remaining in the EU (largely as a result of the Brexit vote being split between soft and hard exit), whilst things should remain the same, there will be a short-term uncertainty factor whilst we go through that process. This will in turn affect consumer confidence, which will have a knock-on effect on consumer spending and company investment decisions. The movement of labour will stay the same, but there could be a delay in economic growth. This would mean that there would be more available labour making it easier to hire in the short term.

So, what can you do?

To paraphrase Disraeli: “Prepare for the worst but hope for the best”.

Planning is key. Whilst we have little to no influence on the outcome, we can scenario plan and get prepared. Here are my top 8 tips:

  1. Analyse your existing staff and look at the percentage of UK nationals.

The areas of the lowest percentage are obviously at the highest risk. Whilst it seems extremely unlikely that non-UK nationals will be forced to leave, it would mean that finding other similar staff would become more difficult in a Brexit scenario.

  1. Make sure you are attracting talent in the most efficient way.

If you are still using two or three credit-based job boards, you may need to think about updating your strategy in light of the latest media trends.

  1. Put your best foot forward.

Yes, we are talking employer brand. How you communicate, your EVP, your careers site etc. – all of this will help improve your conversion rate.

  1. Find new sources of talent.

Brexit would (in time) open up new labour markets that would need to be tapped into. Identify likely markets and build a strategy to attract talent from them.

  1. Make sure you follow the attraction curve.

If recruiting talent gets harder you will want to move up the attraction pyramid. So move from organic advertising (i.e. for free) into sponsored advertising. And from targeting active jobseekers into sourcing passive candidates.

  1. Train up your existing staff.

Make the most of the staff already in your organisation. Once you’ve recognised the areas of your business most likely to be affected, use your time in the first quarter of next year wisely and train current staff in those areas.

  1. Recruit ahead of the curve.

Start recruiting now. There is still time to build up your organisation and employ more staff before Brexit comes into play.

  1. Don’t panic (yet).

We don’t know what the outcome will be and whilst you do still have time, you need to start planning. Nothing will happen with Brexit until 29 March 2019, but do ensure that you are considering all of the possible outcomes when considering your recruitment strategy for 2019.

About ClickIQ

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Follow Richard Collins on LinkedIn to explore of the latest developments in the sector and to learn how you can keep your Talent Attraction strategy ahead of the curve.

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