How Brexit Affects Global Mobility and International Recruiting

As the Brexit uncertainty continues and the effects of Brexit on British and European employers and employees are still unclear, InterNations Business Solutions asked global mobility and HR professionals, as well as business owners in the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU) to explain how Brexit affects their daily workload, and how they see the future of global talent mobility.

Brexit Impacts the Workload of Global Mobility and HR Teams

A global mobility manager who works for an international company with headquarters in London says Brexit has significantly increased her workload because of the uncertainty and constant changes. She adds: “We are preparing a contingency for a no-deal Brexit which may never happen. I attend weekly committee meetings, various ad hoc meetings, as well as preparing communications, answering employee and company questions, and preparing processes for post-Brexit.”

According to the comments, Brexit not only had an impact on HR and global mobility professionals based in the UK, but also those in other parts of Europe. A British company manager based in Germany states: “The additional workload we have now is mainly creating speculative guides and processes that will assist any of our UK-based client HR and global mobility teams — whichever way Brexit happens. The question for us is, will we need to use them or are we just preparing something that we’ll never need to use.”

He adds: "How easy will it be to fly into and out of the country? Will immigration checks at the airport take a long time? Right now, I can take the first morning flight to London and be in a meeting by 10:00, have another meeting later in the afternoon, and take a late flight back to Germany. A tow-day business trip incurs additional costs for accommodation, food, and more time out of the office.”

Substantial Effects of Brexit on Global Talent Mobility Are Yet To Come

Asked whether they already see any impact of Brexit on expat employees and the attractiveness of the UK as a destination country, the global mobility and HR managers who shared their thoughts haven't yet witnessed any substantial effects, but they express concerns about the future.

A global mobility manager based in the UK states that she currently doesn’t see a substantial impact on the European workforce, but she does add: “I am new to the organization so it’s hard to know if there is a decrease in Europeans since the pre-Brexit referendum, but I hear many comments about not being welcome post-Brexit or maybe having to leave.”

A British company owner based in Europe believes that despite the challenges posed by Brexit, the UK will remain a very attractive country  to seek new and continue current business relationships. He adds: "London is still the leading city in Europe for global mobility networking and education. The city also has an incredible charm and energy that I haven’t felt in other European capitals.”

The Expat Perspective on Brexit

Although the details of a possible deal or the consequences of a potential no-deal Brexit are still unclear, the attractiveness of the UK as a destination country to work in for global employees is declining. According to the Expat Insider 2019 survey, 42% of expats in the UK are unhappy with the country’s political stability, up from 8% in 2016.

Many expats and global minds are very much concerned about the outcome with the effects on their careers or businesses being one of biggest worries for many expats. This emerges from a recent InterNations survey conducted among British employees living abroad, and European career expats in the UK.

Some of the international hires and foreign assignees that took part in the survey have already taken preventative steps or are planning to take action soon, which might result in an early return from a foreign assignment or potential talent loss.

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