Are You Ready For Brexit?

Brexit is the biggest political story of recent years as it dominates the headlines on a daily basis. But for many businesses it is just one more change that has to be managed.

Managing change

One of the biggest challenges for business is the increasing difficulty of recruiting staff, as uncertainty over Brexit triggers a shortage of people and skills. Shops, farms, factories, hotels and hospitals are just some of the sectors suffering from a dearth of people. Agriculture, construction, engineering, finance, manufacturing, professional services, transport and many other areas are suffering too. The key issue however is not a shortage of staff but the growing need to manage change in a time of turmoil.

Brexit is causing confusion but technology is causing even greater upheaval as it powers a new digital economy that upends traditional industries. The challenge for today’s business leaders is not how to manage in the face of leaving the EU but how to manage in a time of flux. Many businesses have benefitted from a prolonged period of cheap labour and face a situation where the demand for staff will continue to exceed supply. As a result, companies must learn to compete in a climate where automation plays a greater role, cheap labour plays a lesser role, and people with the right skills command higher salaries.

Mastering change

To meet the challenge businesses need to be better managed and managers better trained, as gaining every advantage is vital in a time of crisis. For businesses with the capacity to change opportunities abound; for businesses that lack the capacity to change competition will climb to worrying levels.

Concerns about Brexit will of course continue, as businesses fret about the future. In this context, it is prudent to plan for different possibilities and focus on what can be controlled in the meantime. For instance, regardless of the Brexit effect staff recruitment and retention will continue to be troublesome. One solution, of course, is for employers to invest in employees as a way to compete in world that increasingly rewards people’s skills.

Significant change however is taking place in all sectors of the economy, not least because the digital economy is reaching a tipping point and combines with the chaos of Brexit to unnerve the market. Nevertheless, the winners will be those who figure out how to perform in such chaos and confusion. Luckily, resilience is built into the DNA of entrepreneurs as they naturally adapt to their surroundings. The real issue is who will adapt most quickly and who will fall behind, as businesses in all sectors of the economy drift towards one category or the other.

So, Brexit will continue to dominate the headlines but the real issue for business leaders will continue to be how to manage in a time of disruptive change.