Do you have a “Plan B”?

Five months after the UK voted to leave the European Union, you could be forgiven for thinking that it was all a bit of a storm in a teacup. For many businesses, so far there has been very little change. We have been told that “Brexit means Brexit”, but we still don’t know what Brexit will actually look and feel like when – or if – it ever happens.

Now with the election of a new President of the USA, it’s a pretty safe bet that both globally, and within Europe, there will be change. Whether it amounts to little more than a change of tone and rhetoric, or something substantially different, we will have to wait and see. But change is definitely on the horizon.

For the UK, the last 5 months have been a stark reminder of what can happen when an organisation doesn’t have a Plan B. Panic, hasty decisions, rumour, people heading off in different directions, no-one really quite sure who is making decisions and whether they have really thought things through. Distrust, power struggles, demoralisation, confusion and paralysis.

Are you ready for the challenges we might encounter over the next few months and years? Do you have people plans for different scenarios, so that when changes come, you can hit the ground running? Here are some questions you should be thinking about.

Economic Uncertainty

  • Is your business suffering because contracts have been put on hold or cancelled? Or because exchange rates are affecting profitability?
  • At what point will you need to make decisions about restructuring or downsizing your business?
  • How long will it take and what will it cost? Can you afford it?
  • Who will go first? Who needs to stay? What if the downturn is only temporary and you need to recruit again?
  • Or are you in the fortunate position that business is booming? Is this a long term trend or a short term upturn? Do you need to recruit? How?


The UK is nearing full employment, and many industries are reporting shortages of skilled applicants already. Competition for candidates with the right qualifications and experience may intensify, potentially pushing up salaries.

  • How will your business be affected if the supply of applicants from the EU and EEA falls?
  • Or if immigration policy changes?
  • Where else could you recruit from? Older staff? Younger people?
  • Will salaries and benefits have to increase to attract staff?
  • Permanent, zero hours or self-employed contracts? Which will enable you to recruit people with the right skills and experience?
  • Could you train staff and restructure your operations to improve productivity?
  • Should you automate more working practices? What are the people implications?

Retaining skilled workers

  • Do you employ EU or EEA nationals and will they be able to continue to work in the UK after Brexit?
  • Are they worried about their future and can you do anything at this time to reassure them and persuade them to stay with you until the situation is clearer?
  • Will your business be at risk if they leave?
  • As the labour market tightens, how will you retain your most valued workers?

Employee Engagement

Workers tend to stay with employers who make them feel valued, offer interesting work, and involve them in decisions that affect them.

  • How is workplace morale right now?
  • Have you seen any signs of harassment or discriminatory acts or comments? Or disputes between people with different political views?
  • Are supervisors or managers aware that they must continue to treat all staff fairly, and that they should continue to make decisions about overtime, training, shift patterns and job opportunities in a way that does not discriminate against EU/EEA nationals.
  • Are you happy your managers have the skills to continue to engage and grow their workforce?

Right now, it may feel as though nothing has changed. And nothing really has…yet.

But it probably will.

So are you going to be ready?

We are offering businesses in the East Midlands a free consultation to help you get ready for, and manage, organisational change. Contact us on 0790 2903086 to arrange your appointment.

Marion Parrish HR Consulting