Brexit: how to handle the bombshell that has shaken workplaces across the UK

Hannah Sims · 30 Jun

The Brexit bombshell has shaken up the 2.2 million strong EU workforce in the UK and has thrown employees into what is quickly becoming a new political reality.

Consider this:

-9/10 Europeans working in the UK are concerned about Brexit
-The main concern is job security: 49% fear for it
-76% of EU workers wish to stay in the UK
-But 75% of all EU citizens do not meet current visa requirements for non-EU workers
-37% are concerned about the impact on their personal lives
-61% say their HR department has not kept them informed about the implications for jobs
-33% of Europeans would feel discriminated against if they were to look for a job in the UK at the moment*
It’s hard to make sense of all the noise. Brexit is unchartered territory and we are still very much in the zone of unknown. What we do know is that the vote to leave has provoked a backlash of confusion and instability, and is already having huge impacts on employee productivity and turnover rates. It seems many businesses were not adequately prepared for the vote. Against this backdrop of uncertainty, the role of HR becomes integral.

Moving forwards, what can we do?


1. Take time to understand the bigger picture

Don’t panic, and don’t plan to make knee-jerk amendments to employee contracts. Over the next few months, we will be inundated with information from the government, trade bodies and expert commentators. HR and management are going to need to allocate time and resources to consider the unique ramifications for their business and act rationally accordingly.

2. Help employees to make sense of it all

Humans are wired to associate unexpected change with threat. When this threat is perceived to be beyond our capability, we become stressed as we seek to uncover how the threat might affect us and how we are going to cope. No one is productive when they’re stressed. Help your employees to ‘control the controllables’ and encourage them to ask questions. Understanding is the key to navigating uncertain environments.

3. Open the lines of communication

Don’t go radio silent! Closing up will only increase anxiety. Management must be openly expressive of their ideas and thoughts, particularly on the topics where the greatest feelings of uncertainty lie: employment law, migration, job markets and pensions. Ensure that the communication stream between you and your team is two way. Listen to your staff and make sure that employee feedback is heard, absorbed and acted upon.

4. Reassure your team

HR will need to be quick to reassure the team that there will be no immediate ramifications and that, at least in the short term, it will be business as usual. After all, there’s no reason why much of the UK’s current employment and legislation will not remain exactly how it is.

5. Manage your team on an individual level

The vote to leave has not only created a sense of uncertainty, but also feelings of genuine upset and disheartenment amongst some employees. Think about identifying those individuals by conducting an audit of your workforce and assessing who might be subject to new rules and who, consequently, might be feeling unsettled. Careful management of morale, engagement and motivation will be integral to success in a post-Brexit world.


At Perkbox, we are passionate about unifying happy teams and recognising valuable employees for their hardwork and dedication. In times of uncertainty like these, team unity, workplace morale, and employee engagement will prove to be more important than ever. HR execs have a big task on their hands to ensure that changes in the political environment do not filter down to negatively affect bottomline.



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