Millions of small businesses voice Brexit hiring concerns

More than four in ten British small businesses expect Brexit to have a negative influence on their hiring potential, according to new research.

It equates to around 2.2 million businesses that believe the decision to leave the EU will be damaging to their business prospects.

One third of businesses say that attracting and retaining the best talent will be more difficult, according to Upwork, although that figure jumps to 56% for larger firms with 50-250 employees.

Some 51% of firms expect profit growth to slow while 40% suggested that their workforce will be less productive.

Around a third of firms also believe that the impacts of Brexit will make it more difficult to complete international business.

Such is the shortage of talent, that 16% of SMEs said they may face insolvency and the threat of going out of business altogether.

Despite all of the issues raised, just 11% of firms that are concerned have a plan to limit the negative impacts of Brexit in their ability to hire staff.

Upwork Senior Vice President Rich Pearson has suggested that Brexit could make it more difficult for SMEs to attract the talent they need to be competitive.

Many businesses have adopted a wait and see approach to the situation, as 48% claim it is too early for them to make a suitable plan.

Some 39% are working on a plan but acknowledge that it may change depending on the outcomes of Government negotiations.

Of those with pre-existing plans, most intend to spend an average of £100,000 on ensuring that individuals are equipped with the necessary skills to deal with any situations that may arise.

Nearly a third of firms said the funding would supplement any shortfalls by using external staff to cover the gaps.

Upwork advise of the need to plan ahead in order to be aware of the challenges that may result from Brexit, and suggest that funds should be set aside to cover for any eventuality.

By Phil Smith

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