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Acquiring and Retaining the Best Talent Post Brexit

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Brexit will effectively close UK employers off from a large pool of talent, at a time when increasingly fewer skills we need are being delivered by traditional education.

As founder of The Supper Club, my first business, I’ve chaired over 700 round tables in the last 15 years with some of Britain’s most successful ‘scale-up’ founders and that’s the message I have heard again and again.

And that’s not just the technical skills needed for a SaaS business like ours but it’s increasingly around soft skills like problem solving, communication and resilience.

How then to confront this new challenge? Like any significant new obstacle, we start first by thinking how, or if, we can get around the problem altogether and then secondly how we can make the best of the situation.

We will no longer be able to hire from the EU, but we can still work with those based there. We will just do more of it.

Getting around the problem

We will no longer be able to hire from the EU, but we can still work with those based there. We will just do more of it. We have worked with remote teams based in Poland, South Africa and other parts of the UK. Applications like Slack and Skype’s freemium model mean that they can be used for free (initially at least) and make it easy to keep a remote team feel connected and pulling in the same direction through daily ‘stand ups’ and weekly (or bi-weekly) ‘sprint planning sessions’. This can also be applied to other areas than just tech.

Communication, goals and project planning need to be much clearer with a dispersed team, but easy-to-use tools like Trello make that manageable and affordable. Staff costs, as well as office rent, still tend to be considerably lower in Eastern Europe. Flying people over occasionally is a fraction of the extra all-in costs of a local hire. As far as heading out to see the team in Cape Town (cheaper than flying them out to us) - this never felt like a chore!

World First, one of the UK’s most successful and underrated fintech scale-ups, has just launched the World Account, allowing businesses to set up local currency accounts for free, all on one platform with great exchange rates, making it easy to pay remote teams (and suppliers) in their currency.

One of the most insightful statistics I’ve ever heard at a Supper Club event really drives home just how important each part in the Employee Journey is and how you can’t nail one step only to skimp on the rest.

Making the most of a bad situation

Whilst Brexit does add to the pressure, it also provides an impetus for businesses to take stock on how they attract and retain talent. A quick win (although not quick to implement effectively) is to apply the same vigour to your Employee Journey as you do to your Customer Journey.

One of the most insightful statistics I’ve ever heard at a Supper Club event really drives home just how important each part in the Employee Journey is and how you can’t nail one step only to skimp on the rest.

One participant said that “78% of employees who leave in the first six months make up their mind to do so in their first 48 hours”. Let that sink in. Imagine the cost and effort gone into getting a great hire on board - and then you mess up their induction. You then invest for months of onboarding in them and they’re already interviewing with their next employer!

If there is one thing I’d advise businesses to do to help attract and retain great talent it is to invest in a learning culture. Rafts of recent research (Manpower, Deloitte et al.) have highlighted that the #1 factor amongst millennials, when looking at career options, is the chance for personal development. The fact that those coming into the workplace are not being suitably equipped by our education system is a tragedy (and the reason I set up Learn Amp), but the good news is there is a plethora of really great content and training that can inspire, inform and improve people’s skills and capabilities.

Much of it is free or very low cost too, so it has never been easier to justify the ROI on learning and development. It’s the best way to keep your team engaged, happy and better performing.

You can register for a free copy of the hardcover book “Attracting and Retaining Top Talent in Times of Brexit” where this article is featured alongside 27 others here:

www.benivo.com/brexit-book/duncan-cheatle