How are businesses preparing for Brexit?

By Anthony Wolny | 20th February 2019 | 4 min read

Amid a state of persistent Brexit uncertainty, and something of a sense of mild chaos, most UK, and international companies operating within the UK are currently taking the only sensible course of action – preparing for a no deal, or worst case scenario.

With so much still unknown, many would be wise to consider their approach to the array of different possible outcomes, and analyse exactly how their operations could be affected. As with the rest of the UK, companies across the country are divided in their views on exiting the EU – exporters, manufacturers, finance and professional services firms tend to prefer to remain, whilst smaller SME businesses, focused exclusively on the UK domestic market, would rather free themselves from complicated EU regulations.

Whatever your individual stance, preparing and implementing a robust plan of action that is applicable to your business operations whatever the outcome, could make the crucial difference between surviving or sinking in the post-Brexit economic environment.

So, what are other companies doing to prepare themselves for a life outside of the EU? We’ve included our top five tips to guide you in preparing for the best outcome possible:

Know your target market 

Have you already considered whether Brexit will affect your business’s pricing and marketing strategy? Addressing these areas now could allow you to protect both sales and profitability if the trading environment should suffer from a brief or long-term downturn. If your company is heavily focused on trading with the European market, now might be a good time to explore other markets and options – many companies are increasingly looking towards China, the US and Australia as viable alternatives post-Brexit.

Develop a communication strategy

Although the implications of Brexit, in any guise, are yet to be fully understood, it would be wise to ensure that you have a solid internal communications strategy in place should the worst happen. Ensure that you take any employee concerns seriously, especially those of EU workers, and offer reassurance that your company will continue to offer help, support and guidance whatever the outcome post-March. Formatting a communications strategy can be as simple or complex as you like – this will entirely depend on the nature of your workplace, but you could include Q&A documents, setting up focus groups, holding team or departmental meetings, providing advice online via your website, or even investing time in one-to-one meetings with concerned individuals.

Monitor internal staffing trends

In an unstable staffing environment, assessing your current employee situation and recruitment needs would be a wise decision, and could well help you to prepare for any potential problems post-Brexit. Reviewing how many EU staff are currently working within your business, the roles and sectors that they work in, and their current attrition rate will guide in deciding whether changes need to be made to your wider recruitment and retention strategies post-Brexit, or even during the protracted withdrawal process. An intuitive, robust HR and Payroll system could also play a key role in guiding you in this process.

Devise supportive policies 

Once you have assessed the current state of your business and staff positioning, you can begin to build clear, robust policies on trading, recruitment, recruitment and even support for EU employees. For example, some of your staff may still be looking to apply for the ‘settled status’ scheme – some companies have offered financial support in the form of paying for the £65 application cost, or provided professional legal advice for any applicants. For future recruitment and retention strategies, consulting with directors and managers on their views of the workforce is the best way to ensure that effective plans are drawn up for future.

Stay compliant with current legislation

Whilst it is still too early to know exactly what changes will occur post-Brexit, it makes good business sense to continue to abide by the current legislation surrounding foreign nationals and ‘right to work checks.’ Ensuring compliancy is key for your company during this time. Performing a ‘right to work’ check is a legal requirement for all UK employers, and the failure to do so could result in company fines of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker found to be in your employment. The best option is to therefore conduct a full ‘right to work’ investigation prior to a new employee’s start date, and keeping a full record of when all checks have been carried out.