Perhaps the biggest shock of the referendum was that the UK voted to leave the EU. While all the polls suggested it would be tight, I don't think anybody really thought it would happen. Indeed, a glance at the odds on Paddy Power and you couldn't be blamed for thinking Remain was a shoo-in.
But here we are. Looking at the whole fiasco retrospectively, there are a lot of lessons to be learnt, that can help us as human resources specialists and business owners to do a better job. Most notably:
#1 People are emotionally driven: The 'Leave' campaign did a much better job at tuning into the public's pains and frustrations, to the point that all the experts and independent reports were ignored. Similarly, even the best employees can let their emotions get the better of them some times. As employers, if we're to get the best out of our staff, we must be conscious of all aspects of employee well-being.
#2 Shared Values are Essential: The UK's two biggest parties - Conservative and Labour - have been ripped apart by Brexit. While it is important to embrace and acknowledge varying perspectives on all matters of business, the core values of the people working for you should be closely aligned to ensure harmony and stable growth. This is where culture plays a huge part. Britain is currently experiencing a cultural meltdown at the highest levels and its impact is reflected in the weaker Pound.
#3 Stick to Your Word: Many of those who voted to leave the EU have been left feeling betrayed and disillusioned by those leading the Leave campaign, after their quick u-turn on key issues, such as the NHS and immigration. Trust is integral if employers wish to boost employee retention, cut attrition and raise engagement.
#4 Leadership Matter: Cameron’s unexpected resignation, followed closely by Farage’s and Johnson’s decision not to run for Prime Minister, left the UK without any sense of leadership to guide them through this period of gross uncertainty. The installation of Theresa May has helped steadied the British ship, restoring some sense of calm and structure to the UK Government and British people.
A business without clear leadership can expect the same kind of turmoil we’ve seen in the UK. A lack of leadership makes staff feel uneasy and insecure about the company they work for and their role in it. To counter this, business owners and managers must lead from the front, exemplifying what is expected of each member of staff, while providing support and guidance to help them do their job to the best of their ability.
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