Post EU referendum: The to-do list for HR

27 October 2016

Getting the grips with the decision to leave the EU will be an enormous short to medium term challenge for organisations as a whole but it’s the HR function that will do much of the heavy lifting. Functions will need to be well-prepared and well-resourced if they’re to meet the business expectations that will be placed on them. So here are a few thoughts on the to-do list:

Clean up your data. Whatever the outcome of the EU referendum negotiations, HR will need quality and robust data on your workforce and workforce programmes to make good decisions. Now is a good time to cleanse data to make it easily accessible, particularly the data relating to workforce nationality and location, which is often neglected. You should also think about where you hold data – any changes to how data protection legislation is applied could cause complications in the future, in terms of where you house data, how can use it and your approach to offshoring within and outside the EU.

Get your technology in shape. Given the current uncertainty, it may be tempting to put HR investment on hold, but sharper data and systems capabilities will make companies more flexible and able to manage the more complex recruitment and mobility challenges that could arise. IT systems and frameworks will need to be extremely agile if they’re to deal with a range of potential scenarios for the future operating model, geographic footprint, and organisational structure. You may also need improved systems to manage the compliance risks posed by higher levels of business travel.

Any review of a technology workplan should prioritise three things: stability, simplicity, and agility. You may want to reconsider timing of major transformation and systems programmes that span potential Brexit dates, or accelerate other changes (such as, for example, business travel tracking to help you cope with the manifold tax risks of increased travel in the run up to Brexit).  

Get agile. Many decisions will be made in the coming months and years and the question is, how fast can you respond? This is a good time to assess and address potential barriers to change – such as slow decision processes, challenging employee relations or onerous redundancy terms.

Get lean. Cost pressures will mean that all functions, including HR, could be asked to do more with less. Review all major HR programmes currently in-flight or on the runaway and ask one immediate question: Is this essential for the future of the business?

Get skilled. HR will be busy helping the business identify and source the talent it needs, but HR should also have a clear plan for its own requirements.

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