Nearly half of UK employees feeling pessimistic about future after Brexit

Stressed woman working


Nearly half of UK employees are feeling pessimistic about the future because of the vote to leave the EU, with those in the public sector, voluntary sector workers and younger workers more likely to feel worried, according to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Meanwhile, a survey by the CBI and CBRE found a mixed picture of initial reaction to the Brexit vote with regard to investment and hiring intentions, with over two fifths saying they planned to maintain their investment plans.

The CIPD survey asked just over 1,000 working adults a range of questions, including how they felt about the future as a result of the UK’s vote to leave the EU. Overall, 44% of those responding said they felt pessimistic about the future, with pessimism being particularly high amongst public sector workers (61%), voluntary sector workers (58%) and people aged 25-34 (63%).

More than one in five employees said that they felt less secure in their job as a result of the UK’s vote to leave the EU, compared with just 3% who felt more secure. This insecurity was particularly evident in the public sector, where a third of employees said they felt less secure because of the Brexit decision.

One in five said that they felt they now need to learn more skills after the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy at the CIPD, said: “This survey shows that Brexit has proven to be a seismic event in people’s working lives and reveals that there is significant level of pessimism in the immediate aftermath of the vote. This is especially prevalent amongst public and voluntary sector workers who are already showing signs of feeling less secure in their roles and expect the economic consequences of Brexit to adversely affect their jobs. 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. The survey exposes clear signs of worry among the UK workforce and, if left unchecked, could lead to associated issues such as stress and anxiety.

“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.

“On a more positive note, the evidence that employees feel they now need to upskill as a result of the UK’s vote to leave the EU demonstrates that employees are engaged with their learning and development needs. 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.”

The CIPD’s survey also highlighted incidents of harassment and bullying in the workplace relating to the Brexit decision. More than one in 10 employees said that they have experienced, witnessed or heard of incidents of harassment or bullying of a political nature (13%) and just under one in ten (7%) referenced incidents of a racist nature (7%).

Willmott adds: “There is a concerning level of racial and political division in the workplace post-Brexit. To nip this in the bud, businesses should take zero tolerance approach to racially and politically motivated conflict linked to the vote and ensure that their workforce feel that they are working in an open and welcoming environment.”

Meanwhile, the CBI/CBRE of 186 London firms surveyed after the referendum, found over two fifths said that they planned to maintain their investment plans, with nine per cent expecting to increase their plans. Some 16% said they will freeze investment plans, whilst a fifth think they will reduce them.

Half of businesses plan to continue to hire after the referendum, with less than a third not planning to do so. Some 12% plan on reducing staff numbers.

Lucy Haynes, CBI London Director, said: “Whilst the initial shock from Brexit has dented some firms’ investment plans, it’s encouraging that over two fifths intend to maintain them and half of businesses aim to continue to hire at this early stage.

“Many firms are still considering their response to the referendum, and in an increasingly competitive global race, they will be looking for a clear plan from the Government and City Hall to maintain the openness of London’s economy. The Government must confirm that those people from the EU who are already working in the UK can stay, and business stands ready to work together with politicians to make the capital grow and prosper.”


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