One in four business leaders plan to freeze recruitment in the wake of the referendum result and some are considering moving work abroad, a new study has revealed.
A poll of more than 1,000 members of the Institute of Directors found two out of three believe Brexit will be negative for their business.
A third said hiring will continue at the same pace, but a quarter will put a freeze on recruitment, and 5% will make redundancies.
One in five said they are considering moving some of their operations outside of the UK, and only 1% said they will bring operations back.
Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors, said: “Businesses will be busy working out how they are going to adapt and succeed after the referendum result. But we can’t sugar-coat this, many of our members are feeling anxious.
“A majority of business leaders think the vote for Brexit is bad for them, and as a result plans for investment and hiring are being put on hold or scaled back.”
Over a third of IoD members said the outcome of last Thursday’s vote will cause them to cut investment in their business, against one in 10 who said they will increase investment.
Just under half said it will not change their investment plans.
The IoD said the overwhelming priority for business leaders is that steps are taken to protect the economy from the negative reaction in financial markets, followed by securing a new trade arrangement with the EU.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Most business leaders wanted the UK to remain in the European Union. The economic risks of Brexit haven’t gone away, but I’m determined to help reduce them, and look for opportunities.
“There are significant challenges ahead but the success of the past few years means we’re better able to withstand the current market turbulence.
“I’ll be sitting down with heads of industry and the leaders of Britain’s biggest business organisations this week to help plan out our next steps. They have weathered storms before and together we can make this work.”