Preparing Your Retail Workforce For a No-Deal Brexit

by Deputy Team, · 3 minutes

Exiting the European Union on October 31 with no-deal in place is now the working assumption for both the UK Government and the EU. And the impact of a no-deal exit is particularly concerning for the retail industry. Because beyond just impacting supply chains, it’s likely to place new pressures on the retail labour market. Attracting — and retaining — the right employees is likely to become much more difficult.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Keep your retail business growing by preparing for what’s to come. Read on for three major impacts a no-deal exit.

1. Steep competition for attracting and retaining staff

After the 2016 referendum, record levels of EU nationals left the UK. Wages spiked, and available labour began to contract. This year, the labour market has started to recover.

But with record low levels of unemployment, wages remain high and competition for talented employees fierce. A no-deal Brexit could cause a steep drop in net EU migration. That would lead to less people to fill open shifts. Retaining staff will be more important than ever.

Tips to attract and retain your staff

Some businesses have seen turnover as high as 30%. And in a labour market where competition is fierce, retailers need to get better at selling their businesses to employees. Not sure what will impress your staff? A recent survey found these key drivers matter most to employees:

  • Better pay and benefits (63%)
  • More control over work work/life and shift patterns (55%)
  • More stable income and guaranteed hours (52%)

2. Increased minimum wage

According to The Economist, Britain’s minimum wage is already amongst the highest in the world — above Germany, Canada, and the US. And Labour pledged to increase the UK minimum wage to £10 per hour, including for workers under the age of 18. The Times highlighted the possibility of a pact between Labour and the SNP. Such a pact might see Labour win a confidence vote and return to power at the head of a caretaker government determined to block a no-deal exit.

Tips for controlling your costs

If you have to pay your staff more, you will likely need to tighten your budget in other areas. Here are a few ways you can get the most out of your budget:

3. Disruption and potential shortages

Food retailers are preparing for possible shortages. Come Brexit day, the UK will import 60% of all fresh produce it consumes. And more than half of these imports come from EU countries.

Tips for driving operational flexibility

When retailers are preparing themselves for potential supply shortages, there are a few things they can do internally to smooth the process.

  • Transparency: Ensure clear visibility into staffing levels at department, store, region, and national level. Additionally, make relevant tools and reports available for anyone on your staff.
  • Flexibility: Build flexibility into work patterns. Allow workers to claim additional shifts and look at ways they can swap shifts between themselves (with manager approval). This improved flexibility will ensure the staffing operation can bend rather than snap under the additional pressures a no-deal exit might bring.
  • Communication: In managing any form of disruption, clear communication is essential. Ensure staff have the right information to stay on top of any operational changes.

How to adapt to the changing retail industry

Shift working employees currently represent two-thirds of the employed population globally. And to remain competitive in the retail industry, you need to streamline your staffing and workflow.

Check out this webinar to find out how you can stay current — and keep your employees happy — in the ever-changing retail business.

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