Will UK employers support their EU staff?

A survey by consultancy firm KPMG shows that EU nationals in Britain would like to receive support from their employers in navigating Brexit uncertainty.

More than half of the 2,000 people interviewed (51%) said they would like a clear commitment that employers want them to stay; 47% want more information on how Brexit affects them; 43% would like to receive help in applying for UK residency; 39% would welcome a public statement from their company on the importance of EU staff and 36% would like a pay rise to compensate for the weaker pound.

“Many firms are not communicating with their EU nationals as effectively as they should be. They are adopting an approach that is far too transactional and factual, whereas EU staff need to know that their employers want them to stay,” commented Tim Payne, Head of People and Change at KPMG. “There’s no silver bullet. It’s about reaching people with positive messaging and being comfortable enough to make them feel wanted. And the time to do that is right now: people are making decisions about their future as we speak.”

40% of UK businesses employ EU nationals

Forty per cent of UK businesses employ non-British EU staff, according to the British Chambers of Commerce. Almost half (48%) said to have already faced skills or labour shortages in the past year and the problem could worsen in the future.

The KPMG survey shows that while only 8% of respondents decided to leave the UK, less than half (45%) clearly stated they plan to stay and another 35% is pondering what to do. The top reason to consider a departure is no longer feeling welcome in the country (53% for women and 46% for men). The survey also reveals that the most likely to go are the ‘INDEYS’: independent, in demand, educated and young. The highest proportion of those considering a move have a post-graduate degree or a doctorate, or earn more than 50,000 GBP a year.

In terms of industries, the most vulnerable are IT, business services and law, construction, manufacturing and hospitality. KPMG suggests these could take the example of the academic sector, as it responded immediately to concerns of EU nationals last year. Many universities after the EU referendum organised information sessions and offered legal advice or loans to EU staff dealing with residence and citizenship applications.

“Our survey shows that EU nationals in the UK place greater value on being part of a welcoming society than any financial advantage they may gain from working here. For employers, fostering an open and diverse culture is as important as their staff’s take-home pay,” said KPMG’s Mark Essex.

The consultancy firm also surveyed 1,000 EU citizens in ten EU countries (Poland, Ireland, Romania, Portugal, Italy, Lithuania, France, Germany, Spain and Latvia) on their views of the UK. The poll showed that Britain remains among the most attractive destinations for Europeans (third place after Germany and Sweden). But for 49% of respondents the country has fallen in desirability as a place to live and work compared to last year.

 

Claudia Delpero and Silvia Martelli © all rights reserved.
Photo via Pixabay.

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