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Brexit learning and development toolkit: If life is like a box of chocolates, how can we engage our teams to ensure that post-Brexit business remains sweet?


Way back in 2017, the head of the National Audit Office said that the Government could 'come apart like a chocolate orange' over Brexit. As it turns out, this was something of a sugar-coated understatement.

With Brexit less than a week away, we know that, unless businesses and organisations put far more effort and attention into engaging their teams, then we will see some of them crumbling and others completely melting away in the months that are to follow. No matter how things play out, many factors in this long saga remain unknown.

So, as leaders, managing in uncertain times, what can you do to make sure that you and yours come up smelling of Roses (see what I did there)?

Make sure that everyone is on the same Double Decker, heading in the same direction

You’ve heard the expression ‘we all need to be on the same bus.’ But loyalty can come into question in times of uncertainty. With a decrease in EU applicants, the recruitment and retention of great people will become even more competitive post-Brexit. According to Gallagher’s 2019 Organisational Wellbeing and Talent Insights Report, roughly one third (34%) of respondent employers reported difficulty in retaining staff over the past 12 months, compared with 27% the previous summer.

Leaders can:

  • Ensure that there is a strong, strategic narrative, which everyone understands and believes in. Now would be a good time to review your values, beliefs and vision. As author, speaker and consultant Simon Sinek advocates, all leaders know what they do, good leaders know how they do it, but great leaders ‘start with the why’. Those that clearly communicate their purpose and beliefs will see greater loyalty from employees and clients.
  • Make sure that middle managers feel valued and reassured themselves, and that they have the communication tools to field questions from their teams. Laughology has already run many positive communication and relationship building sessions for senior and middle leaders, to fully equip them for life post-Brexit.

Adopt a Toblerone approach to individual and team wellbeing

It goes without saying that teams which stick together will be stronger and more productive than ones that don’t. As leaders, we can think of our team’s wellbeing in terms of a Toblerone. Each chunk needs to be present and contributing to ensure the whole bar is strong. And people need to be happy and healthy in order to be physically and mentally present and contributing to the best of their ability.

Good leaders ask people what would make them happier at work, but inspirational leaders go above and beyond that. With increasingly diverse workforces and an aging demographic, they think more creatively about individual wellbeing and what they can offer

For example:

  • Younger employees look to work in organisations which are a force for good. By arranging team volunteering days, you’ll improve team spirit and increase levels of 
  • Some people may be worried about their finances. We know that this can impact on mental and physical wellbeing. You could organise financial advice sessions to help.
  • Maybe policies and practice need reviewing to be more flexible and supportive of people who want, or need, to take time off during the working week.
  • With an increasing number of women over 40 in the workplace, many businesses are now looking at ways in which they can help people (men and women) affected by the menopause. Again, this is something that Laughology can help with.

Support, recognise and reward your Heroes

In its 2018 survey, Investors In People found that: ‘Not feeling valued as a member of staff was the third most common reason for wanting to move on, cited by 39% of respondents and up from 35% in 2017.’

The most successful businesses are now looking at their appraisal and reward systems to check they are still fit for purpose. In order to feel valued, people often want to know what their career path might look like, what ongoing support is in place to help them develop and how they can manage a healthy work/life balance. Whilst earning a competitive salary is important, people who feel that their contributions are recognised are less likely to get itchy feet.

Leaders should consider:

  • The benefits of having little, regular developmental chats with all members of the team, instead of setting data-driven targets in appraisal meetings and never speaking about them until they are reviewed 12 months later.
  • Whether the rewards and recognition systems that are currently in place adequately acknowledge the effort people put in. If not, how can your rewards and recognition be tailored to individuals whilst remaining fair? Peer-to-peer recognition; personalised and authentic praise from managers and CEOs and the opportunity for self-recognition can all be important and don’t nothing except time.

And Finally:

As a leader leading in uncertain times, it’s important to look after yourself as well as your team. Make sure you get regular Boosts (physically, mentally and chocolatey) and when you make small, impactful changes, which you’re proud of, feel free to give your team a Twirl.

After all, Brexit may or may not be a Picnic, and it’s likely to be more of a Marathon than a sprint, but when it comes to the Crunch-ie – you’ve got this.

(Laughology would like to apologise for the gratuitous confectionary puns, Sarah really Dairy Milked it, it was totally over-Creme Egged…we’ll stop now)


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Are organisations and companies just paying lip service?
Join some of the most interesting and respected voices in positive psychology for our Our Big Chat about…Thinking outside the tick box, inaugural webinar. Our two and half hour interactive event will look at the best mental health strategies for organisations, identifying what works and what doesn’t.

Dave McPartlin:

Dave is the Headteacher of Flakefleet Primary School.
Creating the right environment for people and communities to flourish

Sunita Hirani

Sunita is one of the BBC’s key equality, diversity and inclusivity experts.
Why inclusion is essential for mental wellbeing

Professor Sir Cary Cooper

Cary is one the world’s most influential voices in occupational health and wellbeing.
Enhancing Mental Wellbeing at Work. Evidence based strategies for creating a wellbeing culture at work.

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