Calming Brexit concerns: The employers' role
Beckett Frith, July 21, 2017
Keep employees informed and updated, and consider offering flexible working or one-to-one support
Feelings of job insecurity among the UK workforce rose 149% after the decision to leave the EU, according to research from Office Genie.
The survey of 1,257 workers found that job security levels have dipped by 17% as a result of the UK’s decision to leave the EU. Pre-referendum 70% of workers felt secure in their job, now just over half (58%) feel secure.
The research indicates employers have a vital role to play in calming Brexit fears. Nearly three-quarters (70%) of the workforce said they believed it is an employer's duty to help ease Brexit-related distress. More than half (54%) of workplaces have experienced such concerns but only 31% of these employers chose to comfort staff.
When asked how best employers should calm fears, the most popular solution was informing employees of any impending updates, with 76% of workers stating this would be of benefit. Offering flexible working (25%) and one-to-one managerial support (20%) were also seen as potential ways to ease worries.
Sarah Sutton, head of people development at Genie Ventures, said employers have a responsibility to keep staff informed. “Brexit has left a lot of people feeling uncertain about the future of the UK and what it will be like as a place to work in the coming years,” she said. “Therefore it makes sense that it’s not only EU nationals that are feeling insecure in their jobs, but UK citizens too.
“Employers should aim to tell staff about any new regulations coming into place. They should also offer reassurance, either in an address to all staff or on a one-to-one basis. While no-one can be sure what the exact outcomes will be, employers can tell their employees that nothing will change in the short term and steps will be taken to minimise any negative implications. I’d recommend employers inform EU nationals how to apply for both permanent residence status and UK residency if they are eligible.”
She added that reinforcing other policies, such as those surrounding discrimination, could also be useful. “With Brexit being a potentially divisive issue, it may also be worth reminding staff of your policies regarding discrimination and bullying in the workplace, ensuring all workers are treated with dignity and respect at all times,” she said.