HR managers can control a lot of things, but the political climate isn’t one of them. What can be controlled, however, is your response.
It’s crucial, then, to have a well-rehearsed HR strategy in place, just in case political instability strikes. A bit of preparation and planning goes a long way. Make sure you’re not scrambling to catch up when even the government isn’t sure what’s going on, like with *ahem* Brexit.
The response to potential changes in workplace and immigration law needs to be a proactive one, not a reactive one.
Here’s how you can keep control of your HR processes during a politically unstable time.
Communication is your most valuable tool when it comes to calming nerves about big political changes. Be sure to educate yourself and your colleagues about the changes that may affect your business, and make it clear that lines of communication are open for employees to voice their concerns.
When it comes to Brexit, for example, the future position of EU-nationals in the workplace is unclear. Make sure that you’re communicating with anyone who might be affected, and help them through the application process for ‘pre-settled’ and ‘settled’ status.
If these employees know that you have them in mind, morale will take less of a hit.
Prepare for data changes
Brexit is one example of how legislative changes can affect the HR process and what you can do to prepare. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is still fresh in many minds, but with an exit from the EU, the law on data privacy has the potential to change for domestic businesses.
In cases like these, it’s absolutely necessary to have an efficient, intuitive HR system in place. A transparent platform will allow you to gain an immediate overview of employees, and it’s incredibly effective when understanding who will be affected by change.
Lean into purpose and mission
If there is ever a time to have a well thought-through company purpose and mission statement, this is it.
A clear, established and codified company culture provides a guiding light when weathering political instability and uncertainty. It makes prioritisation easier and sets out the goals to work towards when pressure arises.
An agreed-upon purpose and mission-statement created by staff across the organisation makes for a unified front and less doubt in the direction work should take.
Company culture benefits more than your current employees, too. Events like Brexit often means a shrinking talent pool – the number of applicants from EU nations interested in UK jobs has already dropped by 12.6 percent, and we haven’t even left yet. That means a huge leap in competition for talented employees. Knowing what makes your organisation unique will help you set it apart when it comes to the recruitment process.
Prepare for changes in free movement
When we say free movement, we’re talking about both people and your supply chain. If you’re regularly sending employees to EU countries to meet with customers, for example, you’ll have to start thinking about whether visas will be an issue (in the case of Brexit, they’re thankfully not… so far).
Your supply chain is almost guaranteed to undergo significant change as a result of events like Brexit, too. Increased VAT, delays at the border and a potentially business-damaging customs tax all come together to paint a pretty dismal picture in the worst-case scenario.
Accounting for these changes beforethey take place is vital. Revisit your purchase orders and ensure that you’ve got an automated system for handling them. That way, in the event of sudden changes, you can access all of your orders easily and make changes across the board.
Purchase orders are there to increase efficiency and save you money, not to become a headache in themselves. Consider talking to suppliers ahead of time, as well, to address the issue head on and find out whether or not you’ll need to look for new providers.
It’s tempting to reassess and rearrange your HR process with every new political development. But if you’ve made the right contingency plans and assessed potential problem areas, you will have a concrete set of plans in place for serious eventualities.
It’s important not to scramble in the face of instability. It’ll cause morale to drop, and your HR process will become disorganised. In short, remain ready and alert, and avoid erratic and emotional behaviour. As put by Victor Hugo:
‘Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.’