The June 22 vote on Great Britain exiting the European Union seems to have the world debating what it means for business and the global economy. Because no one knows how a Brexit will play out, it’s that uncertainty of what will happen that has a PricewaterhouseCoopers leader concerned. “It’s not necessarily the end answer that matters because absent information, many people assume the worst, or companies have to do contingency planning,” said Tim Ryan, chairman and senior partner at PwC.
That uncertainty can lead companies to make contingency plans and workers to choose other countries over those in the United Kingdom, he said. “In any country where there’s more uncertainty, that affects the flow of talent.” Conversely, he said the U.S. has reason to be optimistic, as it looks more attractive than the U.K. as a hub for talent.
Questioning the outcome of Brexit could also influence U.K.-based businesses to think twice about new hires. “In this climate of unpredictability, businesses are likely to delay decisions on permanent hires and take a shorter term approach,” said Jonathan Hime, group managing partner at Marlin Hawk, an executive search and leadership advising firm out of London, said in a post, “The Impact Of Brexit On Executive Search.”
Although top business leaders hail from other parts of Europe, Hime wrote that leaving the EU will likely not change recruitment for C-suite positions. It’s the average worker who would see “tighter controls and skills assessment,” likely leading to fewer non-U.K. hires.
The Wall Street Journal backs this up. In a June 24 article, “Companies Scramble to Assess U.K. Vote’s Impact,” said that major companies warned that this vote would create an “uncertainty that would hurt profits and endanger jobs” by slowing the flow of talent between the U.K. and the European Union the majority of its voters chose to leave.
Ryan said the Brexit vote is a symptom of hyperlocalism, or focusing on a specific community rather than having a global view. He said that in regards to trade and talent mobility, operating in a global environment is critical.
“If we operate solely in silos across the globe, we would not be maximizing our economic potential,” he said. “At the same time, I think given some of the challenges we have across the globe, it is important for both political leaders and business leaders like myself to be attuned to what’s happening in the communities in which we do business.”
Leaders should invest in the communities where they do business, but they should also be listening to their staff, Ryan said. With the recent Brexit vote, especially, companies should pay attention to their employees and react to uncertainties that come about. Ryan encourages leaders to engage with their staff, talk with them and be transparent about what this means for them.