Has Brexit led to non-UK workers feeling less at home in the workplace?

Since Brexit, non-UK workers living in the country feel less affinity with their British colleagues, with just under a quarter (23 per cent) stating they feel the workplace has become less accepting to non-UK colleagues.

This is according to a survey conducted by the UK jobs board, Jobsite. The research also found that over a third (35 per cent) of non-native workers believe their career progression has now stalled and 13 per cent hold the opinion they are not being considered for promotion due to their national heritage.

Nearly half (44 per cent) of non-UK workers feel their companies should do more to promote cultural diversity as well as acceptance in the workplace.

With eight per cent saying they actually had to leave a role as they were not fitting in.

These results seem to be in contradiction with the general view of the workplace as 95 per cent feel that their company is accepting of a foreign workforce. The whole UK currently has a multicultural workforce of 17 per cent, this figure has increased by almost 13 per cent in the last 20 years.

Out of the native Brit workforce, 61 per cent believes that diversity actually makes work more enjoyable with 71 per cent of the non-UK workforce thinking the same.

UK slang not understood by all  

There is a high chance that non-UK workers have been embroiled in a misunderstanding at work due to native UK workers slang. A huge 84 per cent of employees said they have been involved in one, these vary from jokes, to different accents, sarcasm or misused words.

A third (33 per cent) of these misunderstandings occur face-to-face with non-native UK workers feeling far worse than their UK counterparts when they walk off.  With just over a fifth (21 per cent) of non-UK workers feeling embarrassed after the encounter compared to 14 per cent of UK workers.

Still, 33 per cent of non-UK workers were able to laugh about the miscommunication after it occurred and 29 per cent saying they were able to learn from it.

A majority of 80 per cent of non-native workers feel comfortable speaking about their cultural background even if colleagues do not completely follow what is being said.

This has led to 76 per cent of non-UK workers implementing tactics to try and avoid these misunderstandings and 14 per cent admitting to googling certain phrases after they have been used in a conversation.

Phrases such as ‘cheeky pints’ and ‘taking the mickey’ to abbreviations such as ‘ta’ or ‘brolly’. UK workers have proved to be helpful to non-native workers with 74 per cent saying they help out their foreign counterparts to fitting in the work place. With tips such as initiating small talk and extra politeness.

This kindness has been met with a backlash from non-UK workers though, as 46 per cent of non-native UK workers wish their British colleagues would be more direct with them, also 43 per cent think their British colleagues are ‘fake’.  Over a third (34 per cent) feel British politeness gets in the way of productivity whereas Brits hold the opposite view that it actually assists non-native colleagues fit in.

Alex Sydney, director at Jobsite said:

Multiculturalism is a reality in our workplaces today and it is important for businesses to recognise they need to champion cultural diversity. Whilst a systemic approach from the top down is important, not all miscommunication can be solved by having policies in place. Employers and employees alike should focus on fostering an inclusive, welcoming team and an atmosphere than allows for sharing experiences and learning.

Interested in inclusion in the workforce? We recommend the Workplace Wellbeing and Stress Forum 2019 training day.





Darius is the editor of HRreview. He has previously worked as a finance reporter for the Daily Express. He studied his journalism masters at Press Association Training and graduated from the University of York with a degree in History.