Last Thursday night the unity of the European Union suffered a serious setback as the United Kingdom voted to leave the political union. Over the weekend we have read numerous articles about the subject: the impact of Brexit on the economy, people’s concerns over the future of the EU, Leave and Remain camps bickering over the result, politicians talking over the future of EU and Britain, and mutually exclusive analysis over how this will impact companies and employees rights and responsibilities. I want to do my part to clarify the situation for employees and HR-professionals.
First off; no one currently has any certain information or knowledge on what will happen. This uncertainty is currently reflecting on the stock- and currency exchanges. The only certainty is, that during the next two years there will be significant changes in international mobility. We have already been in contact with our British partners and are building a clearer image of what this may mean to Finnish companies and talent.
Even in the worst case scenario, Finnish companies are still able to hire British top talent. It is foolish to imagine, that Finnish and other European talent currently residing and working in Britain would be kicked out. This would be too bitter a pill for the British economy to swallow. Likewise, there’s no fear that the island nation will withdraw all of its citizens from other EU countries. This is an internal matter for every EU member state, and I for one do not think that the Finnish government for example would seek to further hamper the environment companies in this country operate in. Increasing work-based immigration is stated in the government programme after all!
Although talent knows no borders, the impact of Brexit will be most visible in the demands on companies’ HR-departments’. If the UK does end up leaving the EU completely or negotiates some kind of a hybrid status, this will likely result in a new kind of application process for incoming British employees. For us in the international mobility field following the developments and having the latest information is a matter of life and death, and thus we are expending all available resources to provide our clients with the most accurate and up to date information. Our partners in Europe are assisting us in building a clear picture of the situation. We have a shining moment of cooperation here.
In the short term and from the point of view of international mobility we can for now rest easy. Although companies in the UK will certainly consider their futures based on the referendum, it is premature to fear that multinational corporations would leave the island nation in droves. Even expat-issues such as the price and rent of apartments will likely not drop significantly, as the major cities of the UK have the same problem as for example Helsinki: plenty of demand and only limited supply.
A whole different can of worms is for example employees in Finland, whose compensation is based on £/€ rate prior to Brexit. Their situation calls for attention and naturally will place additional burdens on the HR-departments of companies.
The situation may not be as catastrophic for the Brits as has been led to believe. Many important economies, the United States and Germany at the forefront, rushed to inform that they are interested in continuing economic cooperation and trade with the United Kingdom. Finland should also be part of this group. Whatever Europe will look like in a few years, it is definitely in Finland’s and the Finns’ best interest to be in the center of this development. Finnish talent will continue to have a demand in the UK and British talent will likewise find its place in Finland. Demand for talent knows no borders.