Almost half of employees ‘pessimistic’ after Brexit vote


CIPD survey suggests particular unease in public sector, as well as widespread job insecurity

A significant number of employees believe they need to improve their workplace skills in the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the EU, and many feel less secure in their job than before the vote.

In a CIPD survey of 1,045 UK workers, 44 per cent of respondents said they felt pessimistic about the future. This was particularly high among public sector workers (61 per cent), voluntary sector workers (58 per cent) and those aged 25-34 (63 per cent).

Just 3 per cent felt more secure in their job since the Brexit vote was announced on 23 June. Ben Willmott, head of public policy at CIPD, said: “This survey reveals that there is a significant level of pessimism in the immediate aftermath of the vote.

“Hopefully, as the political and economic situation becomes clearer, this will subside. But in the short term, there is a clear need for UK employers to do more to engage with their workforce about the likely effects of Brexit on their organisation. Line managers have a really important role in ensuring that the wellbeing of their staff is front and centre in their minds, and that their organisation has the correct culture and structure in place where people can easily raise their concerns and be heard.”

A total of 22 per cent of employees said they felt less secure in their role as a result of the referendum (rising to 33 per cent in the public sector), while 21 per cent felt they needed to learn new skills.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary at TUC, said that helping employees feel secure in their jobs is critical to making sure they do not “pay the price” for Brexit. “Employers can start by being open with their employees about any challenges ahead and, if they invest in training and skills for their workforce, they can boost productivity while showing that their staff are valued,” she said.

Wilmott added: “It’s vital that employers do not allow the uncertainty around Brexit to cause them to cut back on training and development for the benefit of their staff as well as the resilience of their organisation as a whole in the months of uncertainty ahead.”

O’Grady said the government must also show its confidence in the British economy by kick-starting investment to support jobs and growth, such as green-lighting Heathrow’s third runway and announcing an expansion of high-speed rail.

She said: “The knock-on effect of greater confidence that the UK is open for business will make everyone feel more secure in their jobs. As for public sector workers, who were among the least confident in their job security, they have to be reassured that the new government is preparing to invest in public services – not start a new round of damaging cuts.”

Job uncertainty has rippled through many sectors since Brexit. In announcements made late last week, Lloyds Banking Group said it planned to cut 3,000 jobs and close 200 branches despite doubling its pre-tax profits. But McDonald’s said it was creating 5,000 jobs, and dismissed concerns about the fallout from the Brexit vote.


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