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Bolster Your Brexit Talent Toolkit

Chris Wilkinson

Head of Talent @ Forward Partners

The word is out. We are heading for a ‘Hard Brexit’. What does this mean for you and most importantly how do you sat nav yourself out of a talent dead end?

In this short guide we explore some options available to those competing to attract top talent to their team over the course of 2017 and beyond.

Key Takeaways:

  • There are tools available now to attract talent from outside of the EU;

  • Look into acqui-hiring (buying a company for the sole purpose of recruiting some or all of its staff) to boost hiring efforts;

  • Know that we still have at least two years of business as usual;

  • Address the added risk of ‘fright flight’ by giving longer notice periods and working on retention strategies



1: Look into attracting talent from outside of the EU

Take a look at the Tech Nation Visa Scheme.

The Tech Nation Visa Scheme, for the uninitiated, was specifically designed to allow tech companies to hire non-EU talent quickly by fast tracking the visa application process. To do this, Tech City brokered a deal with the Home Office.  Most of the form filling has been condensed into a neat package - all they ask is that the applicant can demonstrate being ‘Exceptional’ (experienced hire) or can demonstrate ‘Exceptional Promise’ (junior hire). Note: this is open to business talent as well as developer talent and there are multiple routes for entry - criteria here.

2. Look into acqui-hires to hire en-masse quickly (if you can)

The acqui-hiring phenomenon was / is a key weapon in a startup’s arsenal, especially in Silicon Valley, but it hasn’t gained much traction over here to date. However, depending on the size of your war chest at the end of the recent funding boom, it might be worth looking into acquiring smaller companies, with impressive teams (usually founding engineering teams). Examples from Silicon Valley suggest that this method can be a highly effective way of hiring proven, high performing teams quickly.

3. Article 50 triggers a two year process

And after that it will be business as usual as far as we are told. This means that anyone working / living here who is from the EU can stay and continue to work.

4. Bolster employee retention strategies

Naturally, foreign nationals working in your team may be feeling somewhat concerned with the turn towards a ‘Hard Brexit’. It goes without saying that retention strategies should be top of mind. There are many ways to approach retention. We like to think in terms of long, medium and short term strategies. Here are a few to get you started,

Short Term:

Notice Periods. Make sure your key hires are on decent notice periods - at least 3 months. Most candidates in the UK won't be on less than one month so set yourself up for success and make sure you're covered to fill the gap if someone, does in the end, decide to leave.

Medium Term:

Team Happiness. Make sure you have a good sense of how the team is feeling and, most importantly, understand trends. This allows you to be on the front foot and proactive in dealing with potential difficulties. Options include (amongst others),

Long Term:

Employee Engagement. Keeping your talent engaged, on task and ultimately challenged is the key to long term success and strong retention metrics. Here is a good guide to get you started thinking about tactics to address employee engagement.

5. The UK is still considered one of the most attractive places for top talent - in the world.

In the recently published 2017 Global Talent Competitive Index  (INSEAD), the UK was named the third best place in the world for talent. The report cites the UK as having an education system that meets the needs of the economy, employment policies that favour flexibility, mobility and entrepreneurship and stakeholders who are well-connected in business and government. It's not all bad news but now is certainly the time to prepare and bolster your toolkit ahead of the forthcoming retreat from the EU. 

Useful Links:

Chris Wilkinson

Head of Talent @ Forward Partners

Chris has helped build the leadership teams for some of the world’s most innovative digital companies. Prior to Forward Partners he was a Senior Associate at the digital headhunting firm The Up Group and placed C'level executives at companies such as Skyscanner, JUST EAT, WorldRemit and Circle. Chris is passionate about disruptive businesses and is now hands-on with helping Forward Partners’ portfolio scale their businesses from a people perspective. In his spare time Chris enjoys playing jazz piano, writing sitcom scripts and drinking IPA.

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