Employment Counsel EMEA Globalization Partners
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Challenges and opportunities post-Brexit

7th Apr 2021
Employment Counsel EMEA Globalization Partners
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Businesses everywhere are looking forward to the prospect of a return to the relative calm of normal trading conditions, and even if that remains some months away, preparation remains important. Faced with the dual challenges of COVID-19 and Brexit, many organisations have been focused on navigating immediate issues, while others have faced a hugely stressful fight for survival.

Despite the huge upheaval and adjustment required to cope with the issues of the past 12 months, some changes in the way many organisations work, such as the practical impact of Brexit and the move to remote working, will remain in place as permanent norms of the way we do business. This brings both challenges and opportunities into play and businesses need to ensure they are focusing on some key issues.

Going where the talent can be found is fast becoming the only viable option for businesses that need to move quickly to take advantage of new opportunities.

Keep compliant 

For instance, the changes in employment rules and regulations brought about by new post-Brexit laws cover a range of important considerations. These include the new UK points-based immigration system to changes to the freedom of movement for UK and EU citizens. Clearly, employers and workers alike need to ensure they are compliant, and have been given a six month grace period up to June 30th 2021 to get their paperwork in order. After that point, it’s likely that right to work checks will be carried out and EU citizens will need to satisfy the new requirements for working in the UK and vice versa, but the precise details have yet to be announced.

The remote working dividend

Looking towards new opportunities, as businesses have built experience in how to make remote working as efficient as possible, many have emerged from the initial pains of the shift, and are now beginning to realise that not only do they already have powerful remote capabilities in place, but there are real advantages to remote, global teams. 

These include increased efficiencies, business productivity and valuable insights into local markets. Many industries will also be familiar with the problems created by skills shortages and, while they may have previously rejected the idea of expanding internationally to deal with these issues, the new experience of remote working has convinced many that it’s a valuable and effective way to run teams. Going where the talent can be found is fast becoming the only viable option for businesses that need to move quickly to take advantage of new opportunities.

Hiring people is not as simple as sending an offer letter to an international candidate - the employer must have the right legal structure in place first and follow the proper local procedures before onboarding any international candidate. 

Post-pandemic talent spotting

But how do businesses approach the challenge of building their teams with international talent if they haven’t been down this road before? The first step to building a remote global team is to understand the processes involved. For example, hiring people is not as simple as sending an offer letter to an international candidate - the employer must have the right legal structure in place first and follow the proper local procedures before onboarding any international candidate. 

This includes establishing a formal legal entity in new international markets, which is key to  ensuring businesses can pay the appropriate taxes, file payroll, and remain compliant throughout the employment relationship. The challenge is that laws and regulations vary from country to country, and it puts a major burden on the business to discover the unknowns and ensure compliance. 

And they don’t end once an international candidate has been hired, with one of the biggest issues for any company is maintaining compliance over time. Employment laws vary per country and are constantly changing - staying up to date on each set of regulations is essential. 

As Brexit threatens a potentially smaller talent pool, it is worth considering ways to develop and attract the internal talent needed to boost engagement. 

Preparation is key 

As there is no clear indication of what Brexit will really look like in practice, during this period of uncertainty, engaging and retaining talent is crucial. Employee engagement strategies will help boost morale of employees impacted by Brexit, and both HR and business leaders need to ensure they have a strong communication strategy, so they are ready to deal with any post-Brexit fallout.

HR should drive programs to reassure key talent solutions to Brexit scenarios, such as loyalty bonuses and assistance packages. Furthermore, as Brexit threatens a potentially smaller talent pool, it is worth considering ways to develop and attract the internal talent needed to boost engagement. 

A helping hand 

Across each of these issues, from compliance with post-Brexit laws to taking the chance to expand internationally and hire talent in different countries, the right advice and guidance can help businesses navigate the risks and embrace the opportunities. For those organisations working with the twin challenges of Brexit and lockdown, but who still need to find the best route into international markets, as well as access to the best talent, an Employer of Record (EOR) can help employers manage hiring in foreign countries without the need for relocation or having to set up in other countries. This will ensure they have access to the highly skilled talent the business needs, and ultimately help firms successfully build their talent pools on a domestic and international level.

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