Human Resources

How business leaders can cope with talent mobility post-Brexit

By Rick Hammell, CEO, Elements Global Services
Human Resources
Published: 21 November 2017

Brexit is presenting businesses with new challenges on a daily basis, however none more so than that of retaining and finding the best global talent, while encouraging British staff to work abroad in branch offices globally.

There are regular reports around the fear of a ‘Brexit brain drain’, with a recent KPMG report claiming that as many as one million EU nationals working in the UK are considering leaving the country.

Having surveyed 2,000 EU citizens working in the UK, the report also noted that 50 per cent of those planning to quit Britain post-Brexit were workers with PhDs and 39 per cent with postgraduate degrees. Alongside this, half of those surveyed claimed they felt less welcomed and valued in the UK since the referendum.

Retaining local and global talent
While surveys aren’t always indicative of the reality of the situation, they offer a useful snapshot of public opinion on big issues. There is however, still a lot of uncertainty when it comes to post-Brexit policies around employing EU nationals and British nationals abroad.

Tabloid scare-mongering over fears of a ‘Brexit brain-drain’ aside, there is a very real and justified unease amongst the business community and UK companies of all shapes and sizes. Ensuring the best talent mobility throughout global organisations headquartered in the UK is going to be a key issue for British enterprises over the coming years.

All UK-based businesses with plans for global expansion in the future have concerns over the immediate uncertainty surrounding the challenges Brexit presents. These include:

  • What happens to my employees abroad?
  • How do I prepare for the unknown and make sure I am compliant with any employment regulations?
  • Am I now going to incur the expense of setting up a legal entity on the continent, or in Ireland, in order to continue my operations there?

So what are the coping strategies that companies faced with these massive uncertainties need to implement in a bid to deal with talent mobility in a post-Brexit era?

The talent mobility challenge
Learning to deal with and manage Brexit uncertainty and what we might call ‘talent mobility’ is vital however, it’s a challenge on an incredibly large scale, with around 3.6 million EU nationals now living in the UK and 4.5 million Brits living in Europe.

There’s also a high chance that many of those 8.1 million citizens may decide to return home post-Brexit which is a large part of reason why even the best laid plans for global expansion have been thrown into disarray regarding the free movement of Brits and EU nationals across Europe.

By employing an Employer of Record (EOR) service, businesses can prepare for any eventuality and manage the risk and uncertainty associated with these types of talent and staffing concerns.

What is an EOR service?
An agile and comprehensive (EOR) service is perhaps one of the best and most straightforward solutions allowing companies to seamlessly expand, on board, manage and pay employees worldwide, while continuing to be compliant with local and EU employment laws.

Alongside this, for those looking to expand into other countries, it can help to attract and hire key new talent as well as manage existing staff which are most immediately affected by the impact of Brexit.

So what exactly is an EOR service? And why might your business want to use one to deal with Brexit-related staffing concerns and talent mobility issues? An EOR service essentially assumes all the key business of employment responsibilities such as HR, payroll and benefits. With the current uncertainty mentioned above in mind, it can be set up specifically to enable companies to mitigate the effects of Brexit in a number of ways.

Most importantly, EOR can provide a company with flexibility around where staff are located to make sure it retains the best talent possible. It provides services to deal with the sponsorship of employee residency VISAs and work permits, for example, taking away the onus and responsibility for the individual or his or her employer to deal with such time-consuming, and often quite stressful, bureaucracy directly. Likewise, this works in the reverse situation of helping companies retain their best workers here in the UK who also happen to be EU nationals. The Employer of Record is the legal entity that employs them, ensuring that businesses can continue to be compliant with local and EU employment laws.

With EOR in place, business leaders and entrepreneurs need not lose any more sleep over the threat of a Brexit brain-drain or of the limitations of employing British nationals abroad post-Brexit. However, it’s important to look into the options available to their HR departments from a good Employer of Record (EOR) support programme to expand, on board, manage and pay employees whether they happen to be in Europe or in the rest of the world.

Only once all this is in place can businesses ensure that all staff are paid on time, receive their employee benefits and, for all intents and purposes, are managed equally well, as if they are all in the same office.