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Brexit seen as just another disruption rather than a fundamental challenge

Almost two-thirds of European businesses with significant interests in the UK view Brexit as “another distraction”, compared with 26% that see it as a “fundamental challenge”, according to Willis Towers Watson (WLTW).

31 MARCH 2017 | CHRIS SEEKINGS
"Confidence is encouraging for planning and growth" ©iStock
"Confidence is encouraging for planning and growth" ©iStock

However, concerns about attracting and retaining EU nationals with specific skills into the UK have risen since the referendum, with 31% of businesses now treating the mobility of senior staff as more of an issue.

With the British government triggering Article 50 two days ago, 29% of firms believe that the mobility of all staff is concerning, with 24% having assessed the type and number of employees they will now need in the UK.

WLTW head of talent and reward, Olaf Lang, said: “Brexit is a major event for businesses with strong interests in the UK, but more view it as a disruption rather than a fundamental challenge.

“That relative confidence is encouraging for planning and growth, but many businesses are clearly worried about how to keep their UK operations fully staffed and skilled, and how to attract and reward talent from the rest of the EU.”

The WLTW research involved a poll of almost 100 senior HR and reward executives across Europe, mainly from large multinational companies.

The results of the survey show that 20% of companies believe it has become more of an issue that UK reward packages are now less attractive for non-UK nationals.

When asked whether they had made cost-of-living adjustments for expats, 15% said they had done or were planning to do so in the next three months, while 16% were considering it.

“Businesses are concerned about what barriers to skills may be put up in a post-Brexit landscape and are carefully taking stock,” Lang continued.

“Many have flagged the movement of staff as an issue – both for senior managerial positions and specialist roles like HGV drivers or multilingual call centre staff.

“Anxiety over keeping non-UK staff in the UK is already showing. The drop in sterling has made reward packages less attractive, and some companies are tackling that by boosting pay packages and incentives.”


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