A battle for talent and concerns over threats to plans will make 2018 the ‘Year of the Employee’ according to a new global report

  • Business leaders planning to increase focus on attracting, retaining and energising employees in 2018
  • 108% more UK leaders than 2017 will give employees more attention than other audiences
  • Business leaders low in confidence when it comes to attracting and retaining the best talent
  • Government and legislative changes, cyber crime and a lack of available talent are the top three threats to plans

Business leaders should expect to face a battle for talent in 2018, according to a new Report issued by The Worldcom Public Relations Group. The report indicates that more than double the number of UK leaders (108%) are planning to give most attention to employees in 2018 – the only audience to see an increase in attention since 2017. This heightened focus on employees seems to be driven by what CEOs and CMOs see as the top three threats to achieving their organisation’s plans. The first is government and legislative changes; the second is the lack of available talent and, the third is cyber crime.

The Report, entitled, the Worldcom Confidence Index (CI) explores the issues global CEOs and CMOs believe will most influence business success in 2018. The leap in attention for employees may also be a response to very low confidence levels when it comes to the ability to attract (2nd lowest CI Score) and retain (4th lowest CI Score) the best talent.

Despite these low confidence scores, and only marginally above average confidence for the ability to increase productivity by energising and engaging employees, business leaders remain surprisingly optimistic about their ability to satisfy customers, rating it as their top source of optimism for 2018.

Employees have a crucial role to play in ensuring compliance with regulations and with essential cyber protection practices. As a result, the Report’s findings are a clear signal that leaders see employees as a vital ingredient for success. In fact, attracting the best talent ranked highest as the criteria that will have the most influence on success in 2018 – just ahead of the strength of the global economy. It was three times higher than disruptive competition, which declined to almost half its 2017 level.Crispin Manners, Chairman of Onva Consulting, author of the Report and a Worldcom partner, said: “The report shows that concerns about available talent will drive a battle to attract and retain the best people. It also shows that employees will be pivotal in ensuring compliance with key legislative changes like the GDPR and in the fight against cyber crime. The GDPR is a good example of a legislative change that requires employees to adapt their behaviour. The penalties for non-compliance are existence-threatening for businesses.

“And, if organisations struggle to retain their best talent, as the report suggests, it will be hard to sustain a good customer experience. The combination of issues uncovered, places employees front and centre like never before. It is for this reason we believe 2018 will be the year of the employee.”


Ruth Dance, Managing Director of the Employee Engagement Alliance, thinks a focus on building an employer brand, underpinned by a clear Purpose and strong values, could pay dividends for small companies. “It’s very easy for small companies to believe they can’t compete at an employer brand level because they can’t offer the same working environment or benefits as Google or Apple. However, our work with our members shows that, while these tangible factors matter, intangible factors, such as Purpose and Values, matter more. It’s often said that people don’t leave a company, they leave a manager. So, my advice is for smaller organizations to focus on developing a Purpose that inspires, and then ensuring that every manager brings this Purpose to life for each employee through the way they behave, and the coaching and care they give to their team.”

Matt Manners, Managing Director of the Employee Engagement Awards, said: The Worldcom report shows that there is a compelling need for companies to invest in employee engagement. The benefits in terms of attraction and retention are well proven – as is the positive impact on productivity.”

Available in its entirety at worldcomgroup.com/confidence-index, the Worldcom Confidence Index highlights key issues and trends. It also uncovers interesting differences in the confidence levels of respondents across 18 demographic categories, including business roles, ages, gender, business size, geographic presence and more. The UK Report can be found here. Highlights of the 2018 Confidence Index include:

  • Attracting good people ranked second highest as the criteria that will have the most influence on success in 2018 in the UK (15%) – just below the global economy. Brexit – and the loss of EU talent – may be a factor in this change
  • The UK’s productivity challenges show through in lower confidence in the ability to improve productivity by energising and engaging employees. Only 19% of UK leaders are confident in doing so – half the number of US organisation (38%)
  • UK companies are significantly less confident in their ability to attract the best talent than some other countries, and less so than the global average. The UK has a below average Confidence Index score (19.8)
  • Only 20% of UK leaders are confident in the ability of their organisation to do so. This is 3% lower than global average and significantly lower than America (34%) and Italy (29%) who hold the top two scores.
  • Brand Power: When compared to larger organisations, 71% more of smaller organisations think the ability to attract talent because of the quality of their Employer Brand will have the most influence on their success in 2018.
  • #1 threat to achieving plans in the UK is government/legislative changes such as Brexit and GDPR
  • Cyber Crime Concerns: Overall, business leaders are least confident in their ability to protect their organisation from cyber crime. At least 50% more American companies than those in the other regions, see cyber crime as the biggest threat.
  • Generation Gap: Confidence in the ability to both attract and keep the best talent declines significantly as leaders age.
  • Political Positivity: More than double the number of organisations from America (28%) than EMEA (13%) think the style of political leader communications has a positive impact on their optimism about their growth potential.


The global report was conducted by two independent research companies, Research Now and 3Gem, and aimed to gather responses via an online survey in six of the G7 countries (France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and the United States.) as well as China.

The methodology resulted in a total of 585 responses (167 America; 106 Asia; 312 EMEA) from leaders of all ages and business sizes.

The report concludes with an analysis of the issues and key recommendations that business leaders can implement to increase their probability of success in 2018.

Confidence Index scores

A summary of the Confidence Index scores by issue and demographics can be seen in the typed charts below. The scores for each region and country and can be seen in the individual region and country reports which are available here.


About The Worldcom Public Relations Group

The Worldcom Public Relations Group is the world’s leading partnership of independently owned public relations firms, with 143 offices employing some 2,000 staff in 115 cities across six continents. In total, Worldcom partners reported combined revenue of US$288 million last year from 3,034 clients.

Established in 1988, the group was formed so that the strongest, most capable independent firms could deliver immediate impact and sustained value through the intelligent use of communications – wherever in the world a client needs support. Partners serve national, international and multinational clients, while retaining the flexibility and client-service focus inherent in independent agencies. Through Worldcom, clients have on-demand access to in-depth communications expertise from professionals who understand the language, culture and customs of the geographic areas in which they operate. www.worldcomgroup.com

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