Future Look |

Brexit Cloud Creating Uncertain Future for European Rewards


Since the referendum in June 2016 that determined the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, much has been in flux in the region. The UK’s impending Brexit has affected plenty, including work life and the rewards profession in the EU.

The problem, however, is the effect has been the byproduct of uncertainty. There is uncertainty around the terms on which the UK will leave the EU, what the UK’s longer-term relationship with the EU will look like, how the UK will transition to this end state, what this means for market access, the availability of migrant labor and product regulation and then what all of this will imply for the prospects of individual business.

“It’s all an unknown at the present time,” said Claire Leake, director of European People Ops at Zayo Group. “It’s really too early to tell what the ultimate effect of Brexit is until we have reached a conclusion.”

While Brexit is the cloud that hangs over all of Europe at the moment, businesses are still preparing for the future of work, which includes automating different processes and integrating AI into day-to-day operations.

“It's driving efficiency in our processes and is enabling our people to pull data quickly with less manual intervention,” Leake said. “It is also enabling our people to develop and broaden the scope of their roles and means we can address workload volumes through automation in some areas rather than adding human resources.”

Leake said European employers are also placing a greater emphasis on diversity and inclusion when building out their rewards programs. She added that there’s been an increase in the utilization of data analytics to improve the employee experience. More European organizations are using social media to acquire talent, she said.

When it comes to the topic of pay equity, there’s been a conscientious effort by the EU to address the issue. In November 2017, the European Commission adopted the “EU Action Plan 2017-2019: Tackling the gender pay gap,” which takes a holistic approach and addresses the various root causes of the gender pay gap.

Germany passed legislation in 2017 in an attempt to shrink its pay gap, which at the time was larger (21%) than the European average (16.5%). The UK introduced similar gender pay gap legislation in 2017, which requires organizations with 250 or more employees to report specific figures about their gender pay gap.

“The gender pay gap methodology was a great way to shine the light on the fact that women were not well represented in senior levels at organizations. That’s really what companies are focusing on,” said Carole Hathaway, global head of rewards for Willis Towers Watson. “In time, we’ll see that addressed in the numbers, but I don’t think we can judge the seriousness of companies just by looking at the numbers year on year.”

Leake noted that European employers do not report externally on pay equity, but it is viewed as a part of continued focus in diversity and inclusion initiatives. As for the future of work and rewards in Europe, it remains dependent on the Brexit resolution

“Until then the future is unclear,” Leake said, “but at present our rewards are driven from global policies so no great changes are anticipated.”


Minimum Rights for Gig Workers

In April, the European Parliament approved new EU rules that protect gig economy workers. This BBC article highlights how the law sets minimum rights and demands increased transparency for those in “on-demand” jobs, such as Uber or Deliveroo. The rules propose more predictable hours and compensation for cancelled work and call for an end to abusive practices around casual contracts.

France’s Jobs Problem

In an opinion piece for Politico, George de Menil explains how Emmanuel Macron, France’s prime minister, hasn’t solved the unemployment issues that have plagued the country. While many of their European neighbors have unemployment rates under 5%, France is at 8.8%. Menil details the issues with France’s labor laws that have fostered the high unemployment rate and suggests tweaks Macron’s government can make to improve the situation.

Salary Showdown in Europe

This article reveals that salaries in Eastern Europe are increasing at more than twice the rate of their Western counterparts. This represents a dramatic shift from previous years when Western European countries typically outpaced the East.

Lawyer Bullying in UK

Aggressive, belittling behavior by superiors is common at law firms in the United Kingdom, but the tide might be turning, writes Abby Young-Powell in this piece for The Guardian. The article explores the law firm culture, which might lend itself to pervasive bullying with zero resistance from junior lawyers due to fear of incomplete training or job loss. The #MeToo movement might be playing a role in the changing tide, as it brought to light all sorts of negative workplace conduct.

Brexit Fallout

Research has revealed that one in four London startups have missed out on investment because of Brexit. Maija Palmer of Sifted writes that it’s been taking longer for startups to close funding rounds because venture capital investors have been deferring their decisions, fearing the fallout from the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. Palmer’s article delves into the struggles that UK-based startups are experiencing because of the uncertainty that awaits amid Brexit.

About the Author

Brett Christie is a staff writer at WorldatWork.

About WorldatWork

WorldatWork is a professional nonprofit association that sets the agenda and standard of excellence in the field of Total Rewards. Our membership, signature certifications, data, content, and conferences are designed to advance our members’ leadership, and to help them influence great outcomes for their own organizations.

About Membership

Membership provides access to practical resources, research, emerging trends, a professional network, and career-building education and certification. Learn more and join today.

Have Questions?


+1 877 951 9191

USA and Canada

+1 480 951 9191

Other Countries


Email Us