I recently attended a post-Brexit breakfast hosted by the Western Daily Press, where guests were asked if they believed their business was in a less stable position following the referendum. Half the room raised their hands. And when asked if anyone felt they were better off? Just a solitary hand hung in the air.
Much of the concern stems from the uncertainty of what will happen next. Questions such as “How prepared is the business to navigate the potential setbacks that lay ahead?”, “Will we lose contracts?” and “Is my job at risk?” are echoing around offices nationwide.
As Richard Jones, a Senior Partner at EY, said, the need for businesses to clearly communicate and consult their stakeholders, internal (employees) and external, (suppliers and partners) is greater than ever.
Nothing breeds fear like uncertainty. The longer questions remain unanswered or avoided, the bigger the contagion grows. If there is no explanation of how the future may look for a business in 6, 12 or 18 months’ time, it is vital for management to work with communication experts to create the messages and strategies that reassure stakeholders, allowing business to continue. If the future remains largely unchanged, stakeholders will appreciate your clarification. If there is risk ahead, the reassurance that your business is working to find solutions will also help to ease concern.
This communication can take many forms, but it is the messaging that is the crucial component. The bigger the organisation, the harder effective communication becomes. In my opinion it is these businesses that can see the greatest rewards for ensuring their stakeholders understand the impact of the changing economic and political landscape, and how it will affect day-to-day business.
It is clear that with the Conservative Party leadership contest, a potential general election, and the debate of when to trigger Article 50 all ahead of us, the atmosphere of uncertainty looks set to continue for a while yet. Effective communication has never been more important.