The only certainty in leaving EU is uncertainty

In his monthly Western Mail column, Acorn's Matt Southall addresses the ongoing EU referendum debate. 

So, with a month to go until the referendum on whether to remain or leave the EU takes place, both camps are ramping up their campaigns. From a business perspective, I can't wait for it to be over.

It seems at times that political campaigning is becoming more and more ludicrous - sometimes when catching up on the latest developments I'm not sure at first whether I'm reading about the American Presidential campaigns or the EU referendum debate - the immaturity, the flying accusations, the mad rush to own the next sound-bite and the emphasis of personality over substance... well, it's becoming increasingly desperate, and very rarely any help (or interest) to the electorate.

Very often our politicians seems to get it so wrong. Why on earth don't they listen - listen to people they represent, answer their questions truthfully and demonstrate that they value their contribution? Being voted into public office doesn't give politicians a mandate to stop listening - instead, it mandates them to listen more.

That's how a business survives and evolves - by listening to its key stakeholders; principally its customers.

Acorn is in the top 1% of the UK's leading recruitment firms - we work with organisations across most sectors you can think of, placing some 6,500 people into the workplace every week - as a business we would be absolutely stuffed if we suddenly decided to no longer listen to the people running these companies.

Challenges and opportunities

We hear daily about the challenges and opportunities of the market they operate in, and we have to respond by developing our own thought-leadership to deal with the issues they face, and deliver solutions to help provide them with competitive advantage. Our entire operation is ultimately geared around supporting and developing our client's businesses - and so we know them well.

It is in this context that we have an understanding of how the employers we work with, of all shapes and sizes, across numerous sectors, from all around the UK will feel about the question of EU membership.

Our sense from the many business and business people we work with is that from a business and economic perspective staying in the EU is the best position for the people of Wales, and the UK. 

I'm not going to present a raft of statistics with which to explain such a position - there will be someone, somewhere with some stats to prove otherwise I'm sure, there always is ('67% of all statistics are made up' springs to mind), but here I do reflect the prevailing view that we sense from some 1,000 or more businesses, whose lifeblood is the increasing ability to retain and attract more staff and to develop and grow market-share, profitably. That's pretty compelling. 

And so, when we hear from independent organisations such as the CBI, the IoD and others also presenting the same view, and also, importantly, developing this view through the sense, insight and expertise of their business membership (their 'customers'), surely our politicians need to be minded by this knowledgeable, crowd-sourced contribution, and not simply remain dogmatic and stick to their tired political bent for the sake of it.

Listen to what the people running our business are saying - they are at the coal face and they are the experts in developing their own and therefore the UK's wider economic performance.

Experience

As our experience at Acorn demonstrates very firmly, we know of businesses, up and down Wales that would have folded without the contribution of skilled and unskilled workers from elsewhere in the EU. In doing so, the local, Welsh employees would have lost their jobs, the local services and small businesses supporting them would have been adversely affected and entire communities could have spiralled into decline - in such situations the position of "coming over here and taking our jobs" becomes as crass as it is futile. 

And this ridiculous argument about whether the EU needs us more than 'we need them'. Such an argument is a red herring. When do businesses think that way about their markets and their customers - they don't. The EU market is hugely important to the Welsh and UK economy - full stop. 

It doesn't matter two hoots whether it's slightly more important to us or to the EU - it's simply too significant, too fundamental that we must do all we can to nurture and develop it.

Why risk putting that to the test when the contribution it makes currently is so huge? With the global economy still stuttering, and with enough uncertainty and nervousness about if and when it will start to pick up more consistently, is this really a good time to risk testing the loyalty of such a vast trading base...?

Business leaders and marketers are only too aware, in the world of increased expression and democratic voice, energised by the impact of globalisation and social media, the customer psyche now feels ever-more empowered to vote with their feet. We see time and time again when brands have failed to demonstrate their commitment to those who invest in them, how quickly customers walk away and frighteningly, how they energise a movement of others to go with them. So would leaving the EU reflect a commitment or arrogance by brand UK? 

It appears the only certainty that we'd have if we chose to leave the EU is uncertainty. That is not good for business or the economy. 

And the only certain thing about uncertainty is that we are uncertain for how long the uncertainty will last.

Not really sure that's a positive environment in which to grow our business and strengthen our economy either. 

Register with us and we’ll help you to find your ideal job
Part of the Synergie Group