How Companies Like Pret a Manger Can Avoid a Post-Brexit Staffing Crisis

Streamlined processes and video integration can aid employers’ ability to find and engage promising candidates.

Streamlined processes and video integration can aid employers’ ability to find and engage promising candidates.

As Brexit’s long-term implications remain largely unknown, UK companies that depend heavily on foreign talent are fearful that new immigration policies may deplete their applicant pool.

According to internal estimates from one such company — sandwich chain Pret a Manger — the fraction of British applicants to foreign applicants is as low as one in fifty. This imbalance has proved a source of much contention, inciting criticism from Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson despite Pret a Manger HR Chief Andrea Wareham’s insistence that without foreign employees, the jobs would remain unfilled due to lack of applications.

Complicating matters is the reality that Pret’s existing staff are extremely diverse, representing 110 different nationalities, with 65% of non-UK staff coming from countries in the EU. As post-Brexit immigration policy begins to take shape in near future, companies like Pret may find themselves in the midst of a massive recruitment crisis.

Reframing an Industry, Revising Recruitment

Despite Johnson’s insinuation that Pret’s foreign employees are stealing highly coveted jobs from employable British citizens, Wareham has expressed the imbalance stems from British citizens’ lack of interest in working in food service. “It really is a case of ‘do people want to work in our industry?’ We are not seen always as a desirable place to work, and I think that’s the trick.”

As employers like Pret seek to expand their applicant pool, they need to simultaneously reframe their employee experience and extend recruitment efforts to reach new groups of potential applicants. Tech-forward tactics like gamification, employer branding videos, social media campaigns and video interviewing can help companies connect with the next generation of the UK workforce, and keep them motivated and engaged throughout the process.

Companies can also leverage the demographic and geo-targeting capabilities of advertising platforms like Facebook and Google to their advantage. Segmenting audiences by key factors like age and location allows recruiters to personalise job descriptions and other marketing materials to their ideal candidate-type for each role, increasing the efficiency of their recruitment marketing efforts while simultaneously improving campaign outcomes.

By leveraging all of the above technologies, Pret can more effectively communicate not only its core organisational values and culture, but also the opportunity at hand for candidates. Top talent is typically looking for jobs with real growth potential. If Pret wants to attract quality employees within the UK’s borders, it needs to show applicants that it’s a place to start a career — not just another barista job.

Navigating Uncertainty

Cutting-edge recruitment and marketing tactics allow employers to increase engagement and reduce candidate confusion during the recruitment process. Gone are the days of the cold and uniform online application. Today’s employers have every resource necessary to express a positive image of their company and attract candidates that are aligned with their mission.

While much remains uncertain about the impact that Brexit may have on recruitment in the UK, employers would do well to remain proactive in exploring sustainable staffing solutions. Companies across all industries will likely encounter new growth challenges in the coming months. But by incorporating technology-driven, streamlined recruitment practices today, employers ready themselves for tomorrow.