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People, Skills & Talent

Brexit blog – Brexit – Attracting and retaining the right workforce

A review by the Federation of Small Businesses found:

  • Over a quarter (29%) of small businesses reliant on mainly low-skilled workers report being unable to meet their labour needs without their EU workers.
  • Over half (59%) of small businesses with EU workers are concerned about accessing people with the skills they need post-Brexit.

This highlights the increased need to focus on your workforce and look at how you can attract and retain UK born talent following Brexit.

What are the main considerations for attracting and retaining your workforce post Brexit?

The key action is to ensure you are effectively planning your workforce needs, both current and future. With changing times, it is crucial that businesses also plan for the needs of their employees and consider that these may change over time. As mentioned in the report above, research shows there is an increasing need to focus on motivation, alignment of employees to a business’s key purpose and to also have a large focus on upskilling.

There needs to be a major focus on retention of talent through investment in skills development. As businesses you should focus on analysing current workforce needs and impacts using tools such as a SWOT analysis which enables you to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your current workforce.

Also useful as part of this planning is to consider what the future resourcing needs are and how as a business you can attract future talent. It is also important to use employees as marketers for potential new recruits as they can share what it is like to work for you, why they should work for you and what your unique selling point is.

How do you attract the right workforce?

Here are some key steps to attracting and retaining a talented workforce:

1. Review your staff attributes through completing a skills matrix for your workforce – are there any other gaps you may need to replace that take priority?

2. Have you identified a new role to fill the gaps and established what is required of that role?

3. Are you struggling to recruit – depending on role and urgency, can you intensively develop a new or existing member of staff to support those skills gaps?

4. Review your current workforce’s desire to develop and grow through your performance management processes - do you have someone you can develop into that role? Anecdotally, a vast number of people are working well beneath their potential – which poses a real opportunity!

5. Skills, and investment in skills, is key to retaining your existing employees and to attracting the right ones for the future – have you considered apprenticeships and skills? How can you use these to retain staff and upskill in order to develop employees for the future?

6. How visible are your job opportunities – who is seeing or hearing about what is available? – Consider how you are using links, networks, job boards and online platforms to ensure maximum exposure. 

7. Consider your local recruitment? Are there networks locally you can tap into? This may be through Further Education/Higher Education, Business networks, and skills brokerage.

8.What can you offer as an employer? 

Flexible working – flexible working offers an opportunity both for a business and an employee through diversity in roles and providing an improved work life balance. Flexible working can include part time roles, compressed hours or even agile working.

Health and wellbeing support – do you support the health and wellbeing of employees through initiatives such as Employee Assistance Programmes, Mental Health Support, or on-site medical support.

What employee benefits can you offer to make you an attractive employer? There is a fine balance between financial benefits and providing a good employee experience through additional non-financial benefits such as recognition for work, social events and mentoring opportunities.

9. Consider how you effectively engage with your employees – for example, do you complete staff surveys and team briefings? Have you provided information sessions for any existing EU migrant employees?

Key areas to consider when planning for changes to current and future workforce due to Brexit:

  1. Supporting EU/EEA (European Economic Area)/Swiss employees in the UK with information about Settlement and Pre-settlement status information
  2. Changes in demands for skilled employees as immigration policies change
  3. Changes in staffing to offset increased costs and delays
  4. Need for business relocation and impacts in personnel
  5. Keeping communications open with staff customers and suppliers


If you’d like more support, advice or help with your Brexit planning please contact the Business Growth Hub on 0161 359 3050.

For more information on effectively planning your workforce for Brexit and on EU settled status:

EU Settled Status

Workforce Planning



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