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Uncertainty and fears for EU workers based in the UK were the top two findings in the State of the Sector Brexit poll carried out by London-based internal communication agency Gatehouse.

IoIC discussed the survey's highlights with Lee Smith, co-founder of Gatehouse, which also delivers the Institute's Accelerate programme.
“State of the Sector has been the definitive annual study of the internal comms world for the past eight years, but when Brexit hit we knew it made sense to take the pulse of the profession again,” says Lee. “So we moved quickly in the weeks immediately following the Brexit announcement to roll out a special mini-survey. More than 250 internal communicators responded from across a range of industry sectors, with the bulk of them - 82% - being UK-based. Organisations employing more than 10,000 people made up a third of the sample.
“We wanted to know how organisations tackled Brexit – both before and after the referendum announcement. The majority – 58% - chose not to take a formal position on Brexit, while 38% of respondents communicated their support for the Remain vote. Just 1% of respondents took a formal position supporting the Leave campaign
“Forward planning is always something we’re interested in and so it was interesting to discover that only a third of respondents had pre-prepared communications for both outcomes. However, a quarter of our sample kept silent and did not respond internally either before or after the referendum”.
When Gatehouse asked about the impact of Brexit, uncertainty was the watchword, with 63% saying their leaders are unclear on the impact. More worrying, a similar number (63%) say EU employees based in the UK are concerned about the future – and nearly one in five (17%) fear that their organisation’s strategy may no longer be relevant in a post-Brexit world
Smith continues: “But there is a silver lining for internal communicators. 28% of respondents think Brexit will give them increased access to senior leaders and 43% say it will increase internal demand for change communication expertise. Nearly one in five believe this represents a great opportunity to raise the profile of the function internally and to beef-up their standing as trusted advisors. Furthermore, a third think it provides a golden opportunity to influence the direction of the business.

"As an agency working internationally with many big name clients, our view at Gatehouse is that internal communicators need to take centre stage as the next steps become clearer – demonstrating proactive planning wherever possible and taking quick and decisive action when details of the impact of Brexit begin to emerge.
“Looking forward, key priorities include delivering timely and clear communication – mentioned by 48% of respondents – and providing reassurance to employees, mentioned by 34%. Interestingly, only 7% prioritised increased listening.
The mini report and infographic can be downloaded here
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