I tend not to get involved with writing on political issues however Brexit must be one of the biggest and most challenging changes to happen in the UK for a generation and will have a direct effect on all of us.
Many of my contacts and connections work in the human resources arena for both large and small companies. I have been asking them their opinion about how their employees are feeling entering this unknown territory since the end of last year.
How we react to monumental change
Generally, there is a sense of ambivalence at what might happen whether they like it or not, mixed in with healthy doses of scepticism as to whether it will work out to the UK’s benefit and not an inconsiderable amount of fear of the unknown.
A few who are not UK nationals are also very worried about whether they will be allowed to stay in this country which is not an unjustified worry whilst our government do nothing to allay their fears.
However, my advice is just to be ready to embrace change however it eventually manifests itself.
In my varied experience of change it is always best to accept whatever is happening, review it in terms of your own circumstances and then seek out the opportunities that I know will present themselves (they always do). Monumental change is any change that feels of huge importance or significance and marks a turning point in our lives. It is often characterised by being triggered externally; in other words, we feel as if it is out of our control. This can cause anxiety as most of us like to retain some semblance of control over our lives. We are naturally reluctant to face upheaval in our lives, but often it is good for us to shake things up a little and get out of our comfort zones; that’s when new ideas appear.
It might appear to be a disaster at first but, unless it is seriously threatening your life and limb, it will settle down and the prepared and optimistic will find their path through it and be able to realign themselves with the new opportunities that will appear.
Mitigate monumental change with planning
With every eventuality that occurs you have to think as to whether it is worth getting angry about or moaning about what might have been had it not happened – wasted energy in my opinion. Redirect that energy into finding the positives, exploiting the new pathways that will open and constructively managing the whole transition. Rather than waste energy wondering what if, plan for the different eventualities.
A healthy dose of reality is also important. It will take Britain two years (or more) to finally exit from the European Union. Two years of speculation and anxiety is far too great a pressure to put on yourself. Instead, take this as an opportunity to re-evaluate your working life and look at it with fresh eyes. Your skills and expertise don’t vanish with the exit but they may need redirecting or re-purposing. The skill of contingency planning is important for any business. Having all your eggs in one basket is never a good business plan, so if Europe is currently your main market, look for others.
Monumental change requires negotiation
Any monumental change is negotiated and discussed. It is a balancing act between changes that impact positively and negatively. In any negotiation both parties have something to lose and will mitigate that impact by trading gains. Europeans do not want to lose access to UK goods, neither do they want to lose the potential revenue from UK markets. Expect a lot of toing and froing over the coming months but don’t take it personally!
And for those non-nationals worried about being chucked out I hope those worries prove unfounded. Perhaps a crumb of comfort – it is highly unusual for new legislation to be made retrospective and with so many UK nationals living abroad themselves it would be an extremely stupid move on our governments part if they did so now.
A final note; you have a voice, use it. Lobbying your local MP to express your concerns or talking with export advisors from you chamber of commerce will help you to regain some control. In the end, this monumental change is happening so don’t wring your hands in despair, rather grasp the opportunity to change.