An Unexpected Brexit Dividend?


McKinsey recently released a report exploring the impact of Brexit on UK talent supply and demand. Interestingly, their findings demonstrated how companies had, so far, failed to revise their long-term talent strategies as part of their Brexit preparations.

Data shows that Brexit has affected the UK talent pool – EU migration is at its lowest level for seven years, and non-EU migration only slightly up. With British employment levels at record highs, companies are finding it more difficult to recruit top talent. Challenges are seen across many areas such as engineering, pharmaceuticals, high value manufacturing, automation, and digital. If one factors in competition from other international hubs, the challenges are compounded further.

McKinsey argue there is an imperative for businesses operating in the UK to take a deeper look at the future talent landscape and approach their talent strategy with just as much rigor as their business strategy. That means answering questions such as:

  • What are the critical roles that will disproportionately drive value in the medium term?
  • Do the right employees hold these roles?
  • How will a business retain the talent in those roles while preparing potential successors?
  • How will a business retain talent in the at-scale roles needed to deliver the strategy and attract the next wave of new hires?

One thing we have been considering is how this will affect the way companies approach external senior level hiring, specifically across highly technical or engineering led sectors where a reliance on specific sector experience is prevalent. If talent availability is reduced, the old mind-sets and expectations will have to change. This has been talked about for many years with the ageing demographics across industrial sectors and the challenges of attracting diverse talent. We now wonder if Brexit will finally have the unintended consequence of forcing organisations to become more focused on leadership capability and behavioural competence.

In our view it will.

There will be a need for organisations to become broader in their search for key leadership roles, looking at aligned and related sectors for talent, and assessing potential candidates much more deeply than they have before. Often, this will be combined with gaining an ever deeper understanding of their own organisation, the behaviours and qualities of their previously successful hires as well as understanding the mistakes that have been made in the past. Analysing failure can be difficult, but is often revelatory. The trends identified influence future hiring and can be tied into the search process. Engaging with professional search firms who can help guide and shape a hiring process based on these principles, helping you analyse previous successes or failures, will become more important than before. Couple this need for deep sector expertise and a broader appreciation of aligned sectors, the pool of search providers narrows greatly.

Norman Broadbent has focused itself on addressing these challenges and helping organisations mitigate associated risks. How do we do this? Our Leadership Consulting capability allows us to analyse current and past processes to asses and understand the traits of previously successful leaders; and our Pre-Search Due Diligence gives us the opportunity to deep dive into a market to understand where the talent is to totally de-risk a search process.  Our search process is proven, ‘data-rich’, and designed to assess behavioural and leadership competence as well as functional capability. The outcome is then deliberate and sometimes surprising. However, as 40% of leadership appointments are deemed a failure after the first 18 months we go a long way to ensure a successful outcome is achieved.

If you would like to confidentially discuss how Norman Broadbent Group could help you overcome your business or people challenges, please contact, John Begley, on 0774 893 1911 or via