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Brexit: 4 Ways to Navigate Mobility Uncertainties and Implications

Brexit Implications

Uncertainty continues to swirl around Brexit, making it challenging for global organizations and Mobility professionals alike to prepare for the potential outcomes that crowd daily headlines and conversations as we move toward the current October 31st deadline.

Whether it’ll be a deal or no deal Brexit, or even potentially none at all, the ongoing ambiguity doesn’t need to lead to inaction. Mobility leaders can and should plan for and around all different scenarios, embracing their important business role to keep talent retained, engaged and informed on an ongoing basis.

As Brexit deadlines and decisions come to a head over the next few weeks, here are four essential tips to help manage Mobility-related preparations and action steps.

Be an active participant in listening to and understanding the wider business implications of Brexit, as Mobility is only one piece. This will help you best prepare what Mobility needs to do to support talent management and other business decisions. Make sure that you have a seat at the table in internal Brexit discussions and plans to offer proactive guidance and anticipate questions from business stakeholders, who want to know the impact of various situations.

Keep abreast of Brexit news and updates as they happen. As we all know, there are constant new developments – especially in recent weeks and even today – and these can be overwhelming and difficult to follow. But you should remain current in case you’re asked or need to recommend action steps. A few ideas beyond following daily media or EU newsroom: Sign up to receive news updates and employer updates from the UK Home Office regarding settled status and employer advice, if appropriate. Read updates from subject matter expert providers (e.g., tax, immigration, relocation) to gain their perspectives and envisioned next steps; and talk to industry and fellow mobility peers or networks to see how others are tackling the issues at hand.

Plan for the various contingencies, including worst-case and best-case scenarios. Think in terms of stakeholder questions, costs, communications and resources. For example, these are a few top-of-mind questions we’ve been hearing from clients:

  • How is the transition period affected by a deal or no deal? If we have a no deal scenario, then there is no transition period. This means items such as social security, GDPR, and the movement across borders of goods and people would be negotiated in a priority order, and any interim approach may not be clear, e.g. carry on as is or not? At the moment, even if there is a deal and fine points are negotiated – the transition period is already squeezed and has not been adjusted to end any later than December 2020, despite the ongoing Brexit timeline delays. The European Commission also offers preparedness information:
  • When is the right time to move people? Many companies took a “wait and see” approach in 2018. But more organizations are relocating individuals on a case-by-case basis this year versus waiting. Corporate group move decisions, on the other hand, seem more dependent on whether it’s a deal or no-deal scenario. With dates being stretched, significant group moves are often more likely to be on hold. The challenge for companies here is to make sure they keep their top talent and talent pipeline, even when Brexit goalposts continuously change. Not doing so could cost companies money, time, resources, productivity and, most importantly, precious knowledge and talent potential – all of which must be factored into any Mobility and relocation timing plans.
  • What are the social security implications of the different Brexit scenarios? Some countries have already announced they would maintain current cross-EU level arrangements with the UK. But others could go back to the older bi-lateral arrangements. Mobility professionals need to track the country-by-country decisions.
  • What is the impact within the EU for UK nationals from an immigration perspective? This is most likely going to vary by country based on each country’s specific settled status application process. Again, it will require following the decisions of individual countries.

Maintain regular communications with employees and transferees in the midst of Brexit uncertainty. This helps build mutual trust and reassures employees that the company is keeping track of the updates and implications for them. It may also help retain key talent who may be questioning what’s next for them and when. There are a number of channels you can use to do this – from email bulletins and intranet messages to face-to-face Q&A sessions and internal webinars. Here’s a quick and previously shared checklist to double-check for your Brexit preparations:

  1. Set aside time to research and create your communication action plan to handle various Brexit scenarios
  2. Identify key internal and also external stakeholders
  3. Proactively share your plan and get feedback and buy-in
  4. Be visible and accessible as an available resource
  5. Connect with all affected employees to ensure communications are clear and timely, and you know and can respond to their questions
  6. Review your action plan as required
  7. Continue to communicate at relevant intervals with employees and key stakeholders

Remember, you don’t need to manage Brexit alone. We’re helping many of our clients with Mobility strategies, communications and action plans in the midst of the pending changes. Contact me if you’re interested in discussing your situation.


About the Author

Beverly King is Vice President of Business Development. Beverly brought 15 years of extensive in-house expatriate management, international reward, HRIS and project management experience to Graebel when she joined the London team in 2018. Her career has spanned senior HR, Reward & Mobility roles across multiple industries within global multinationals including Thales, Toshiba, Panasonic and most recently Liberty Mutual Insurance where she managed Global Reward Governance and other key global compensation, benefit and mobility projects. In addition to her client development responsibilities across EMEA & APAC, Beverly is also a key member of the Graebel Mobility Strategy consulting team, supporting the EMEA region. Beverly has lived in both France and Germany and worked extensively with and across Europe, Asia and the Americas. Her Bachelor's degree is in French and she also speaks German and her native English.

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