It’s two months on from the UK’s shock decision to exit the European Union and the uncertainty surrounding the country’s future has far from dissipated. The Leave vote sparked volatility in markets, the disintegration of the Labour party, the instating of a new prime-minister and a seismic cabinet reshuffle. The 31.7 million people working in the UK continue to question their prospects, the future of their industry and the potential changes to trade, free movement of labour and the protection of workers’ rights. It is a testing time for communication and employer-employee relations. Here’s how to convert this challenge into an opportunity for your internal communications.
1. Transparency Is Key
“Brexit means Brexit” – Theresa May, The Prime Minister of The United Kingdom
Brexit made the power of communication evident. Countless interviews of dismayed voters went viral, claiming that if they’d had all the information now emerging, they would have voted differently. The Remain camp was criticised for its weak delivery of such an important message, and the Leave camp for its misinformation. While it may seem daunting to share uncertainty and more appealing to just take a ‘business as usual’ approach to internal communications, transparency is key in the face of unease and unpredictability. It is vital that employees feel included, are fully informed and trust the information they are given. Keep all information on company values, goals and policies as well as internal news and updates in one centralised, accessible place.
2. Welcome Questions & Concerns
“Speculation and rumours will only continue to fuel anxiety”
New UK prime minister Theresa May’s statement: “Brexit means Brexit,” leaves us none the wiser as to what Brexit actually means – for the country, for individual businesses or for employees. Speculation and rumours will only continue to fuel anxiety. Quash rumours and quell fears by creating a forum for employees to voice concerns and ask questions. Open up a communication channel enabling managers of all levels, from line managers to executives, to be accessible to their employees. While managers may not be able to provide all answers to all questions at present, it is important to express reassurance, support and leadership.
3. Celebrate Your Employees
“Amongst fears of job loss are feelings of being unwelcome”
It is important to remember the fallout of Brexit is not purely economic, but also emotional. 2.15 million EU migrants are currently working in the UK. Amongst fears of job loss, relocation and shrinking pensions, are feelings of being unwelcome. Make sure your employees feel valued and connected with their role in your company by celebrating company, team and individual achievements. Acknowledge hard work and the embodying of company culture. Keeping employees engaged in this way will encourage motivation and productivity.
4. Last But Not Least: Go Digital
“Invest in what will promote productivity, motivation and resilience in the long term”
With speculation that Article 50 will not be triggered until Autumn 2017, following the French and German elections, companies have some time to plan for the complex change ahead. This should be seen as an opportunity to take a step back and assess current operations and processes. Ask: what are your strengths and your weaknesses? Invest in what will promote productivity, motivation and resilience in the long term. Investing in a digital platform facilitates effective and reliable communication, promotes employee engagement and aligns both employees and operations.
Internal communications are a key component of successful operations, especially in uncertain times. Keep employees informed, engaged and productive, using a digital workspace to centralize and distribute information, to provide secure communication channels and to connect employees to one another.