Quick Search
Speaker categories

Retaining Great People – The Greatest Challenge Facing Business Leaders

Derek Williams speaker

Retaining Great People – The Greatest Challenge Facing Business Leaders

Motivational speakerDerek Williams – Founder of The WOW! Awards, has written a compelling piece urging business leaders to implement a programme for employee recognition and retainment.

“Pick up any newspaper or trade journal and it is impossible to go more than a few pages without reading about shortages of labour in the UK economy. Panic at the petrol pumps is just the latest and most visible evidence of a problem that is gripping our economy. Business leaders who fail to act will face an uphill struggle to recruit/retain great people and control spiralling costs.

1.66 million job vacancies in the UK

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (I) reported that there were 1.66 million vacancies in the UK at the end of August 2021 with that number set to rise in coming months. The top 10 for vacancies includes HGV drivers, nurses, IT professionals, care workers, teachers, chefs, sales and retail assistants, cleaners and domestics, metal workers and carpenters. Further down the list are veterinary nurses, ambulance drivers and postal workers.

The challenges

The problem is not unique to the UK despite what post Brexit opinions might suggest. A report from Eurofound (II) in July 2021 reported increasing labour shortages across Europe. The reasons are complex. The situation has been exacerbated by changing consumer habits and the baby boomer peak moving into old age and requiring increasing levels of personal care. Brexit undoubtedly had an impact eg the number of overseas nurses applying to work in the UK dropped by a staggering 96% post Brexit. (III)

The problem used to be how to get the right people on the bus. The problem now is how to keep the right people on the bus. And any employer who thinks that they can simply buy themselves out of this problem by offering golden handshakes or higher wages is deluding themselves. Consumers will never be happy to accept wage inflation simply being “passed on” in higher prices. And the costs of recruitment/training/lost experience are inevitably much more than just a few percentage points on wages.
36% of employees leave a job because there is a lack of recognition

A key strategy

The businesses with the best chance of survival are the ones that already have a strategy for looking after and retaining their employees. A key element of that strategy should be employee recognition. Unfortunately, leaders and managers who expect employee loyalty based purely on a rate of pay are likely to be in for a shock. According to Forbes (IV) the biggest reason that people leave a job is lack of recognition with 36% of employees putting it top of their list.

What we have discovered with 25 years’ experience of running The WOW! Awards is that an employee recognition programme can be quick to implement and provide a massive, long-lasting return on investment.

Here are my top 5 tips:-

1. Lead from the front. This is not an initiative for just a few weeks and if you really don’t believe in it then it will fail.
2. Help your directors and managers to understand the power of employee recognition. As well as delivering keynote presentations, I regularly run Recognition Workshops for people who manage people.
3. Keep it free of politics. Let your customers and employees make the nominations and make the judging process independent.
4. The system must work every single day, week and month. As soon as you let it slip, all credibility will be lost.
5. Do not confuse reward with recognition. This is not about throwing money or prizes at the problem; doing so will cost you a lot more and destroy confidence in the programme. Offering rewards is the quickest way to demotivate your people.”


I. Recruitment and Employment Confederation

II. Eurofound


IV. Forbes

Motivational and leadership speaker

Derek Williams is Founder of The WOW! Awards – Employee Recognition Programme. This process has been successfully running for 25 years in organisations around the world that are passionate about creating a great place to work and a great place to be a customer. He is an experienced and accomplished speaker and feedback includes:

“Derek is a fantastic speaker, full of expertise and energy! I am more than pleased that we chose Derek to provide our opening keynote address at our 4th Annual Customer Contact Europe event, he provided just the right amount of solid content delivered with enthusiasm and our audience responded!” Frost & Sullivan

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.