Explained: How to ease Brexit uncertainty in the workplace

With Theresa May set to trigger Article 50 in the next couple of months, both employees and employers will be concerned about what the future holds.

When the decision was first made to leave the EU, there was great worry over what obligations employers have for their employees and concerns over job security and with the exit firmly in our sights now, these worries are becoming more prominent again. Everyone has been affected by the decision in one way or another, but there are some simple steps you can take to ensure employees stay motivated through the uncertain times.

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Promote positivity

Whether their view is short or long-term, many businesses have a negative view on Brexit and hold the common thought that their company will suffer. However, I believe that it is important for employers to turn this negativity around and view this change as a great opportunity to develop by concentrating on the positive aspects. Although it may seem easier said than done, a number of very successful businesses have taken this approach and thrived off change.

Ikea is one example of this, as tough competition with similar mail order firms led to the company’s first showroom, problems with suppliers caused them to build their own furniture and transportation changes led to the furniture coming flat packed, producing the business we see today.

It is far too easy for employers to see change and shy away from it, however taking a moment to look at the situation and approach it in the right way will allow them to take advantage of competitors.

Turn to innovation

Looking beyond the initial concerns, change within the business environment is a great place for innovation. If the future is unclear and potentially complex, it provides the ideal opportunity for innovation and development as the ability to introduce new aspects of the business is heightened. Practitioners like myself often refer to VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) environments as being important when it comes to reacting to a crisis like Brexit.

A good example of a successful VUCA environment is Tour de France cyclist Jens Voigt who, during an interview, once said that he preferred racing in unfavourable conditions (a VUCA environment) as he had already beaten half of the other racers before the race had started. This situation can be easily applied to Brexit (a VUCA environment) to make the most out of the situation and use innovation to get ahead of competitors. Innovation is a great way to motivate employees and promote success of the business.

Look to the future, not the present

In uncertain situations, it is vital for both employers and employees to look to the future and concentrate on where they want the business to go, rather than allow naval gazing to take over. The future needs to be presented in a compelling and attractive way to allow members of staff to move forward alongside the leaders. If the whole team moves forward together, the business will prosper, further motivating staff. This long term forward thinking helps both employers and employees look beyond negative feelings.

About Stephen Fortune:

Stephen joined the Oxford Group in 2016 as a Principal Consultant. His experience extends across a range of high profile projects and clients including The Children’s Trust, ED&F Man, Gilead, Novartis, Legal & General, Rabobank, Johnston Press, Sainsbury’s and William Hill and now The Oxford Group.

The Oxford Group is a people-focused business driven by a passion for helping organisations get the best from their people, unleash hidden talent and successfully manage their business through times of change. Since 2015 The Oxford Group has been part of The City & Guilds Group, a global leader in skills development, which enables people and organisations develop their skills for personal and economic growth.


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