Nearly half of employees feel pessimistic after Brexit vote, CIPD survey shows

The UK is experiencing a skills shortage due to a decrease in EU nationals seeking employment

Employees in the UK are feeling pessimistic about the future because of the Brexit vote, a survey by the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, reveals.

The survey asked more than 1000 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%).

Elsewhere in the survey, more than one in five (22%) employees said they felt less secure in their job as a result of the Brexit vote, compared with just 3% who felt more secure. Again, this insecurity was particularly evident in the public sector, where a third (33%) of employees said they felt less secure because of the Brexit decision.

This insecurity was reflected in the recognition amongst workers that they need to update their skills. One in five (21%) said 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 a 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 10 (7%) referenced incidents of a racist nature (7%).

Willmott comments: “There is a concerning level of racial and political division in the workplace post-Brexit. To nip this in the bud, businesses should take a 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.”