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The Power and Pitfalls of Artificial Intelligence in Our Everyday Working Life

In the age of rapid technological advancement, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a transformative force that impacts our everyday working lives in profound ways. This blog will delve into what AI is, how it affects our daily work routines and the potential issues that come along with its integration into various industries.

What is AI?

Artificial Intelligence, often referred to as AI, is a field of computer science that focuses on creating intelligent machines capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. These tasks include learning from experience, understanding natural language, recognizing patterns, and making decisions. AI systems can be classified into two categories: narrow or weak AI, which is designed for specific tasks, and general or strong AI, which has human-like cognitive abilities.

How AI Affects Our Everyday Working Life

  1. Enhanced Efficiency: One of the most significant advantages of AI in the workplace is its ability to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks. This allows employees to focus on more creative and strategic aspects of their jobs. For example, chatbots can handle customer inquiries, and machine learning algorithms can analyse large datasets, providing valuable insights.
  2. Personalized Experiences: AI enables businesses to offer personalized experiences to customers and clients. Recommender systems, such as those used by streaming platforms or e-commerce websites, use AI to understand individual preferences and suggest content or products tailored to each user.
  3. Predictive Analytics: AI-powered predictive analytics can forecast trends, customer behaviour, and market changes. This information empowers companies to make data-driven decisions and adapt quickly to changing circumstances.
  4. Improved Safety: In industrial settings, AI-driven robots and drones can perform dangerous tasks, reducing the risk to human workers. AI algorithms can also monitor workplace safety and identify potential hazards.
  5. Healthcare Advancements: AI assists medical professionals in diagnosing diseases, analysing medical images, and developing personalized treatment plans. This technology can lead to more accurate diagnoses and better patient outcomes.

Potential Issues with Using AI

While AI offers numerous benefits, it also raises several concerns:

  1. Job Displacement: As AI automates tasks, there is a fear of job displacement, especially in industries heavily reliant on routine tasks. Workers may need to adapt and acquire new skills to remain relevant in the job market.
  2. Bias and Fairness: AI systems can inherit biases present in their training data. This can lead to unfair or discriminatory outcomes in areas like hiring, lending, and criminal justice if not carefully monitored and addressed.
  3. Privacy Concerns: The vast amounts of data AI systems require for training and operation raise concerns about data privacy and security. Unauthorized access or misuse of sensitive information can have serious consequences.
  4. Transparency and Accountability: AI algorithms can be complex, making it challenging to understand their decision-making processes. This lack of transparency can be problematic when decisions have significant societal impacts.
  5. Ethical Dilemmas: AI raises ethical questions, such as the use of autonomous weapons or the potential for AI to manipulate public opinion. Ensuring ethical AI development and deployment is an ongoing challenge.

In conclusion, AI has become an integral part of our everyday working life, offering incredible advantages in terms of efficiency, personalization, and safety. However, it also comes with its set of challenges, including job displacement, bias, privacy concerns, transparency issues, and ethical dilemmas. As AI continues to advance, it is essential for businesses, governments, and individuals to navigate these issues thoughtfully and responsibly, ensuring that AI benefits society as a whole.

Peter Hedges with Blockchain Blog Image

Unravelling the Mysteries of Blockchain: A Beginner’s Guide

In the fast-paced world of technology and finance, few terms have generated as much curiosity, excitement, and sometimes confusion as “blockchain.” If you’ve found yourself pondering questions like, “What exactly is blockchain?” or “How does it work?” you’re certainly not alone. The landscape of blockchain technology is vast, evolving, and often shrouded in jargon, making it challenging for even the most tech-savvy individuals to grasp its full scope.

But fear not! In this blog, we embark on a journey to demystify blockchain, peeling away the layers of complexity to reveal its core concepts and real-world applications. Whether you’re a curious newcomer eager to understand the basics or someone seeking a deeper comprehension of this transformative technology, we’ve got you covered.

Understanding the Essence of Blockchain

At its heart, blockchain is a decentralised and immutable digital ledger. Imagine it as a chain of digital “blocks,” each containing a set of transactions or information. These blocks are linked together in chronological order, forming a continuous chain—hence the name “blockchain.”

What sets blockchain apart is its core principles:

  1. Decentralisation: Unlike traditional systems where a central authority (like a bank) maintains a single ledger, blockchain operates on a network of computers (nodes). Each node has a copy of the entire blockchain, and there’s no central point of control. This decentralisation makes it resilient to censorship and tampering.
  1. Security: Data stored on a blockchain is secured using advanced cryptographic techniques. Transactions are verified, and once added to the blockchain, they become extremely difficult to alter, ensuring the integrity of the information.
  1. Transparency: In most cases, blockchains are public, allowing anyone to view and verify transactions. This transparency enhances trust among participants in the network.
  1. Immutability: Once data is recorded on the blockchain, it’s considered final and unchangeable. This immutability is achieved through consensus mechanisms like Proof of Work (PoW) or Proof of Stake (PoS).
  1. Smart Contracts: Beyond simple transactions, blockchain can execute smart contracts—self-executing agreements with predefined rules and conditions. These contracts automate processes, reducing the need for intermediaries.

Common Mistakes When Talking About Blockchain

  1. Assuming All Blockchains Are the Same: One common mistake is assuming that all blockchains are like Bitcoin. There are various types of blockchains (public, private, consortium) with different use cases, consensus mechanisms, and levels of decentralisation.
  1. Overhyping Its Capabilities: Blockchain is not a magical solution for all problems. It’s often overhyped as a universal remedy, but it has limitations, such as scalability issues, energy consumption concerns (in PoW systems), and regulatory challenges.
  1. Ignoring Privacy Concerns: While blockchain provides transparency, it may not be suitable for all applications, especially those requiring data privacy. Public blockchains make all data visible to anyone.
  1. Thinking It’s Completely Trustless: While blockchain reduces the need for trust in intermediaries, it doesn’t eliminate trust entirely. Users must trust the underlying technology, the network participants, and the smart contracts themselves.
  1. Misunderstanding Energy Consumption: Some blockchains, like Bitcoin’s PoW, consume significant energy. People may criticise blockchain for its environmental impact without considering alternatives like PoS or private blockchains, which are more energy efficient.
  1. Ignoring Legal and Regulatory Aspects: Many blockchain projects operate in a legal grey area or face regulatory challenges. Ignoring these aspects can lead to legal issues and setbacks.
  1. Expecting Immediate Adoption: Blockchain technology is still in its early stages, and widespread adoption takes time. Unrealistic expectations about rapid adoption can lead to disappointment.

In essence, blockchain is not just a technology; it’s a new way of organizing and verifying digital information. It has the potential to revolutionize industries ranging from finance and supply chain to healthcare and beyond.

International Women’s Day: Women in Leadership.

Today is International Women’s Day 2023! 

At Zenith, we want to showcase women’s achievements and recognise how far society has come to accept and acknowledge them. Our own Managing Director of both Zenith People and Zenith Training, Angela Anderson, is a perfect case study and celebration of women excelling in business, especially in her leadership role.

But first…

A (Very) brief history of International Women’s Day.

The history of International Women’s Day dates back to 1908; Theresa Malkeil first proposed it on February 28th (Note that this is different from the international women’s day date we know today- more on that later!). As the years progressed, so did the advancement of women’s rights. The demand for women’s rights grew, and movements at the time gained notoriety. A significant year for women’s rights and feminism was 1967; this generation of feminists demanded change.

They called for preventing violence against women, equal pay, equal economic opportunity, reproductive rights, equal legal rights, and subsidized child care. These women did not want more; they fought for gender equality. In 1977, the United Nations proclaimed March 8th International Women’s Day and the UN Day for Women’s rights and world peace.

Above is a very brief snippet of the history of International Women’s Day; for a more thorough timeline, follow this link. Equality – it’s about time: Timeline of women’s rights 1866-2016 | The Fawcett Society

Women in Leadership: Angela Anderson.

Men have historically populated the world of business. In the past, even industries that you’d assume are female-dominated, more often than not, have been headed by men. Even though it’s not quite the case anymore, female business leadership used to be a rarity; rewind even twenty to thirty years ago and the comparison to today is significant.

Our feature below illustrates Angela’s success in starting and running her two businesses, proving gender has been no setback!


Name: Angela Anderson

Title: Managing Director of Zenith People and Zenith Training.

Female role models: 

  1. Queen Elizabeth 1st. Why? Queen Elizabeth 1st ruled at a time when women had hardly any power. If you were a female royal, you were seen as disposable. ‘In an era that saw women as weak, inferior, and unfit to rule. She overturned convention and de-fled prejudice, resisting all pressure to marry and risk losing power to a man. – Russell Davis (Evil Genius).
  2. Her best friend. Why? Angela describes her best friend (A fellow woman in business) of many years as ‘very determined, very strong, very strategically minded, very creative and very disciplined.’

Humble Beginnings:

Starting work as an apprentice and then going into recruitment herself, Angela decided to start a business of her own. Nobody in her family owned a business of any kind; her dad was a sheet metal worker, and her mam a part-time data inputter; her grandfather worked on the railways; and her gran didn’t work.

Angela initially joined a colleague who had started her own business to help her out. After some time, and after Angela brought all her clients over, Angela’s colleague decided that she no longer needed help within the business. At this point, Angela could have either gone and worked at another recruitment business or continued on her own. Since she’d already proven to herself that she clearly had the capabilities while helping her friend, she thought….’ If she can do it, I can do it. I borrowed some money from my gran, my sister’s boyfriend, my mam and dad, and some of my own, and set up this place’.

‘If she can do it, I can do it’.

Angela set up Zenith People in 2001, starting with just two people; Angela herself and one other person. As time progressed, Zenith rapidly grew; during the earlier years, the business dealt with many recruitment areas such as Engineering, Industrial, commercial and construction, with Manufacturing and IT now officially on the list! Zenith Training was started and developed, slowly but steadily, in 2011 as an internal apprenticeship programme and officially became a separate business in 2016.

Today both Zenith People and Zenith Training have a combined staff of over forty!

‘Misogyny in business’ 

Throughout her business journey, Angela’s gender has thankfully not brought any setbacks for her. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist; over 8.2 million employees in the UK feel like they are discriminated against because of their gender.

Misogyny is sometimes concealed in business and stereotypes enforced; the person executing may not even realise they’re doing it, but that’s not an excuse to not become more aware of your behaviour. An example of this is expecting female staff to ‘clean up’ or ‘run errands’ when they wouldn’t ask their male counterpart to do the same.

Even body language and where attention is directed can be unknowingly gendered; Angela retold a story of when she and our Commercial Director, Alan, attended a business meeting. Throughout the meeting, the male client directed his attention to Alan instead of Ang, despite Ang being Zenith’s MD (In charge!). Unfortunately, this is common practice; people may not even realise they’re doing it but are instead conditioned to have these views of women as a reflection of their upbringing and societal norms.

Gender inclusivity and misogyny have drastically improved over the years. But it’s not perfect. This international Women’s Day, we want to celebrate how far we have come and recognise how far we have got to go.

A significant step forward is to educate yourself. 

Want an easy, accessible way to learn about equality? Watch a documentary; documentaries make big complex topics easier to understand and digest. 

Some include: 

– Feminists: What were they thinking?

– Period, end of sentence.

– She’s beautiful when she’s angry.

– Saudi Women’s driving school.

Books to read on gender equality: 

– Hood feminism: Notes from the women that a movement forgot.

– A room of one’s own.

– Rad women worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and other revolutionaries who shaped history.

Podcasts: (We know… they’re all the rage)

– The history of chicks

– Girl Boss Radio

– Our Body Politic

– Encyclopaedia Womanica.

‘Courageous feminism means no woman is left behind’. 

Regardless of whereabouts you consume information this International Women’s Day, always strive for inclusivity. For more information about how you can recognize and push inclusivity, look at this article!

Inclusivity On International Women’s Day | Urban List (

What are electrolysers, and how do they work?

There’s evidence that manmade global warming is having an impact on the global climate. From 2011 to 2020, weather-related losses increased by almost 50% compared to the previous decade to $2.5 Trillion. The world has accepted that manmade global warming needs to be limited to prevent catastrophic damage to our planet and humanity occurring. Therefore, reducing or eliminating global warming gases that are emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere, such as Co2 and Methane, is required.

Hydrogen energy is not only a solution that can positively impact the future of our planet but also fits perfectly into a green economy and the green jobs and industries within it. A sustainable solution allows us to have just that: a solution, something the world can use to create power and drive awareness around the importance of green energy and its uses.

Hydrogen energy is produced through systems called ‘Electrolysers’; an electrolyser is a system that uses electricity to break water into Hydrogen Gas and oxygen. The hydrogen produced is an energy source that can power Hydrogen fuel cell applications within trains, and buses, be used in internal combustion engines (ICE) and have zero carbon eFuels. The oxygen produced from the process can be used in other products, such as steel, used by hospitals, microelectronics and other industries.

Producing hydrogen through electrolysers creates a significant effect when compared to alternatives that negatively impact our environment and pollute our atmosphere. Various types of electrolysers, such as Alkaline or Proton Exchange (PEM), help execute the energy process; they differ depending on how they have to be scaled to meet a variety of input and output ranges. The range of size and function of electrolysers are produced to suit various circumstances, from small industrial plants to production factories that deliver hydrogen on a larger scale.

The form of power, Hydrogen Gas that is produced from the process within electrolysers, is a highly sustainable source of energy. While they’re not the cheapest form of energy now, their sustainability and the hopeful prospect of it costing less in years to come is worth the interest and investment; hydrogen energy is a realistic way to generate green energy. An additional benefit of using electrolysers to generate hydrogen is that it allows countries to become energy independent and, therefore, cannot be held for ransom. Energy prices should thus become decoupled from the price of oil and gas.

We will hopefully see the use of electrolysers and hydrogen energy more frequently as the years progress. Fuel costs are the most significant cost component, as this is often a result of technical and economic factors.

Electrolysers, a central component in producing hydrogen ‘clean’ energy, play a role to some degree in the execution of ‘green jobs’ within ‘green industries’. Green jobs are ‘jobs that have a direct, positive impact on the planet and traditionally involve renewable energy, electric transport, energy efficiency, or nature conservation. But right now, as more sectors transition to low-carbon models, every job has the potential to become ‘green’. (The Guardian, 2020.). Green industries, as a whole, are economic activities that exist and hope to minimise the environmental impact. Green industries include Manufacturing, Transport, Energy, Construction, Farming, Finance, and many more.

While not everyone may have heard of electrolysers and the hydrogen energy they produce, the hope of their positive impact on the environment and relevant industries are strong as awareness continues to develop.

If you’re a Hydrogen Engineer or of a similar discipline and are interested in the number of Hydrogen roles we have available, please don’t hesitate to visit our jobs board Jobs – Zenith People or give us a ring on 0191 428 6444.

What is hydrogen energy?

You may have heard ‘hydrogen energy’ pop up quite a bit recently, but you may not know what it is all about! This blog takes you through the basics of all you need to know about hydrogen energy and the energy it provides.

Hydrogen: What is it?

Hydrogen, a naturally occurring element on earth, is the simplest element, with each hydrogen atom only having one proton. Hydrogen is also the most abundant element in the universe; the sun is actually mostly made up of hydrogen! 

In the same way as gasoline, hydrogen is an energy carrier thar must be produced from another substance. Hydrogen can come from fossil fuels, biomass, and water sources. As an element, hydrogen has three times the amount of energy by weight of any other standard fuel; however, it has the lowest amount of energy by volume.

It does take more energy to produce hydrogen than hydrogen provides when it comes to useful energy; however, hydrogen is useful as an energy source because as mentioned, it has a high energy content by unit of weight. Hydrogen is used to fuel to produce electricity on some spacecraft!

Hydrogen fuel is produced through various methods, including Thermal processes, Electrolytic processes (Link blog), Solar-driven processes, and Biological processes. ‘Hydrogen colour codes’ are used to define the production route for the specific hydrogen in question. The colours and types of hydrogen used in the spectrum include green, grey, yellow, turquoise, and pink.

As mentioned in our blog about Electrolysers and their processes, a massive benefit of using hydrogen as an energy source is to limit foreign energy dependence. In the unpredictable climate, having alternatives readily available will never go a miss; pluses include fewer transportation costs and fewer special issues.

Whilst the current cost for production of Hydrogen is relatively expensive, there is a massive amount of work being undertaken to reduce the cost of hydrogen. The graph below shows the International Energy Agency predictions for the reduction in this production cost over the next 40 years. It is fait to say that the industry is already ahead of the curve and that production costs will approach these levels far earlier than 2060.


IEA, Global average levelized cost of hydrogen production by energy source and technology. 2019 and 2050, IEA, Paris., IEA. Licence: CC BY 4.0

Global Predictions

We don’t know when or if the future of clean energy lies with 100% hydrogen as the source; we do know the benefits and opportunities hydrogen energy gives, but at the same time, it is also essential that whole optimism remains, so does realism. As we advance, understanding the disadvantages and drawbacks of this sustainable clean energy source allows for a better understanding of how hydrogen energy can be used in the most efficient way possible.

Whilst we do not have a full picture of the future energy market, there has been a significant increase in the amount of global finance earmarked for investment in hydrogen production since the invasion of Ukraine. This is demonstrated by the hydrogen project data published by Rystad Energy which indicates that Hydrogen will have a big future as a fuel in our future sustainable World.

Everything you need to know about Probation Periods.

You have probably heard of a probationary period and what Probation Periods are; you’ve more than likely come across the term probationary period when reading your contract or throughout your probation meetings. You know that you have to ‘pass’ your probation to progress and continue in your role, but have you ever thought about why a probationary period is so essential for an employee and a business?

Probationary periods help protect the business in the first few months of a new hire and are also put in place to benefit the employee. Want to know more? We’re going to outline why probation periods should not be overlooked!

1. Make sure employers have made the right recruitment decision.

Even if an employer has interviewed a person a few times and is set on them for a role, probation periods help ensure they have 100% made the right decision in their recruitment. Interviews are often too short to gauge a person’s true persona and intentions within the business. Hiring someone is usually based upon first impressions; the actual guesswork when it comes to a new hire is during their probation period (typically a few months long). During the initial few months of an employee’s time within the business, employers get to know the employee below the surface level, and an employer gets to watch them carry out their job and the roles within it!

2. Probation periods hold the right to protection in the case of unfair dismissal.

Just because a probation period has less notice doesn’t mean an employee is not protected against unfair dismissal from an employer. Employees are still protected against dismissal for reasons such as disability, age, gender, ethnicity, religion and cultural background, and any harassment that may have occurred. An employee is protected during the probationary process when an employer does not follow the contractual dismissal procedure correctly.

Employees are often dismissed within their probation period for reasons such as:

  • An employee not delivering the skills or performance they promised in the interview.
  • Are a bad fit in terms of the business’s organisational culture.
  • Consistent poor attendance and time-keeping skills.

3. Employees only have to give a weeks notice if they decide the role isn’t for them.

The typical probation period is around two weeks to a month; however, a probation period could be up to three months or even longer, depending on the level of your role and the skills you may have. For example, if a role encompasses many skills at a high level, then a probationary period may be longer to ensure the employee is the best for the position. However, a probation period can be extended depending on circumstances; this must be communicated in writing before the end of the probation period, as well as explaining why the probation period has been extended and what is extended and what is expected of the employee going forward.

If an employee makes the decision that the business isn’t right for them and they want to leave, then during the probation period they only have to give the employer a weeks notice unless stated otherwise within their contract.


Are you an employer unsure how your business’s Probationary Policy should look? Have a look at this valuable template for an idea Probationary Period Policy Template | Workable

employees working together, happy in their roles and workplace.

What are the BEST employee retention strategies

No business sets out to not retain their employees; however, for reasons sometimes beyond an employer’s control, staff leave their posts within the business and go onto another workplace. However, employee retention is not all out of your control; there are strategies you can take within your business to help retain your employees; what are the best employee retention strategies?

1.Avoid a toxic working culture 

Nobody wants to come into the office every morning and feel like their walking on eggshells, scared they’ll do or say the wrong thing as soon as the workday begins. A pervasive fear of failure within the workplace creates a toxic environment that does not welcome employees to be their true and best selves while at work. Likewise, knowing everything they do at work isn’t good enough also creates a room full of unenthused workers; negativity helps to fuel that gloomy vibe everyone else in the room is probably also aware of. How is this combatted? Positive reinforcement and recognition of when someone has done an excellent job at work motivate workers, and as a result, they will probably be more productive.

Constant gossip and cliques also create a hostile work environment; this creates a lack of team culture and can isolate some groups within the workplace. You never want employees to feel like they’re missing out on some ‘special club’. The workplace should be a safe and inclusive environment for all workers regardless of their role or seniority.

2. Not sure if your workplace is toxic? Ask. 

Any issues employees may have within the workplace can be found out and solved by simply asking employees. A few times a year, make the time to ask employees what they think could change within the workplace; this can be done by hosting regular round tables or surveys to hear about people’s ideas. Doing this creates an excellent opportunity to allow workers to voice any grievances they may have in a comfortable, open environment. Some people may have something bothering them at work and may not be comfortable discussing it in an everyday setting; setting aside time to air any issues allows them to do so.

3. Provide a competitive salary 

Almost every business claims to offer a ‘competitive salary, but many employers don’t actually know what having a competitive salary means. A competitive salary refers to the regular pay an employee receives from a comparable job to the amount others receive in the same industry. In layman’s terms, the average salary for an Account Manager in the UK is £35,037, meaning if a company states they offer a competitive salary. This salary must be equal to or (ideally) more than the industry standard for similar positions in the same area. If you want to keep your skilled staff members, offer them an excellent competitive salary to compensate them for the hard work and skills they bring to your business. Competitive salaries can sometimes change depending on the regional location of the role; regardless of these factors, the salaries you offer should reflect basic supply and demand at the time and the cost of living. How To Ask For A Pay Rise – Zenith People

4. Promote a work/life balance 

Following the Covid19 pandemic, flexibility surrounding work has now become a necessity, not a luxury. The demand for a work/life balance is now more vital than ever; more and more businesses are now offering agile/remote working as a standard. This work structure is the modern way forward, and the benefits outweigh any worries employers may have about adopting this within their business. (Link). Get ahead of the inevitable and offer remote and agile working to employees; find a structure that works best for your business. More and more employees are leaving their roles (even if they like their job) for remote and agile work as this option is too good to give up.

This working structure also considers any mental health problems and neurodiversity, contributing to an exclusive and productive workplace with practices that suit everyone, not just a handful. Incentives aren’t enough to keep a persistent workforce anymore. Working from home has proved to be a great employee retention strategy as it helps to keep employees motivated and focused. Not sold? Check out this post by Blue Signal for more insight! Is Allowing Staff to Work from Home the New Key to Retention? – Blue Signal Search

 5. Hire the right people for the role 

Seems obvious, right? Because it’s just that easy. Well…maybe not. After interviewing a candidate, you may think they’re great, the best for the job, and skilled. However, a few months into their role, you realise that isn’t the case. Some people interview well, and when it comes to working, they either aren’t a good fit within the business or struggle with aspects of their role.


North East Recruitment insights. Recruitment expert Alan Metcalfe

The Importance of Employee Retention

The Importance of Employee Retention by Alan Metcalfe

So as we start the final quarter of 2021 and look forward to a brand new year, what are the main challenges for businesses? Well, across the board is the shortage of staff. Every sector in the North East is suffering; whether it is customer service, hospitality, engineering and manufacturing or IT, the story is the same. Yes, Brexit has had a considerable effect, but so has Covid, with self-isolation having the most significant effect on productivity and output. According to the experts, the North East is still reporting around 10,000 cases per week – and this is severely hitting the workplace. Would you also believe that the North East has the second-highest employment rate in the country behind London, no wonder it is so difficult to find the staff you want.

Employers, in my view, need to reconsider their strategy for recruitment. New staff come at a cost, and this usually results in salary increases. It is a candidate-driven marketplace, after all. Once you have excellent staff members, you need to keep them and switch some of the focus towards employee retention, so many companies lose staff in the first six months of employment, and frankly, this doesn’t help anyone. So how do we keep our teams together without recreating the wheel or paying enormous wages?

One tried and tested method for employee retention is to consider your employee benefits and schemes or improve those in place. 75% of employees reported that they’re more likely to stay with their employer because of their benefits program (Willis Towers Watson)

The question then is, what do employees value as a benefit? In a post COVID environment, people are more conscious of a work-life balance. 52% of UK employees said they feel closer to their families, having worked from home during the pandemic. Eight in ten people stated a work-life balance would be a key consideration when looking for their next role (Future Strategy Club, FSC). With those facts in mind, employers should embrace a shift in approach to match to bolster their employee retention. The latest Office for National Statistics report acts as further evidence to employees change in mindset, stating that the current average hours worked per week ranges from 31.9 in London and 29.3 in the North East. Much lower than we would probably expect. So, we can see a cause and a trend in the labour market.

Justin Small, CEO and Founder of Future Strategy Club, said: “Lockdown and the way that we see work has changed immeasurably and surprisingly quickly throughout the course of 2020 and into 2021.”

“Working from home and flexible working was already growing in popularity but the past year has put that growth on steroids. [Covid-19] showed all the worse parts of the traditional working structure, so it is not surprising that so many people have wanted to make changes to their environments permanently.”

“[Employers] need to be careful to accommodate their employees’ needs and concerns otherwise, talented individuals will be drawn towards going it alone or jumping ship, causing repercussions for businesses that may be on the edge of surviving and going under.”


Employee benefits

So, what are the benefits we can offer which will help with work-life balance, helping our employee retention? And what other features could we provide to employees to encourage loyalty? Let’s start with work-life balance:

  • Comprehensive health, mental health, wellness and dental insurance packages
  • Flexitime
  • Telecommuting (working remotely)
  • In-work creches or child-care provision
  • Life insurance

We as employers can empathise values of our companies through schemes too and show we are invested in them. This addresses the primary reason employers are unhappy at work. According to an Employee Happiness and Statistics report for Q2 2021, 69% of employees who said they were unhappy at work said they feel underappreciated. You can counter this by offering:

  • Gym reimbursements
  • Cycle to work schemes
  • All employee car schemes
  • Bonus schemes
  • Dress down days
  • In-office dinners
  • Training and development

Adjusting your benefit schemes won’t have a high impact on salaries. Usually, employees won’t actually mind accepting a salary package that is a little lower if they have accompanying perks which bolster it. The bottom point in the above list is key and something we strongly believe in at Zenith, I would advise developing your current employees and look at taking apprentices, who in my view are very capable and extremely loyal, it is time to change and to move forward – why do the same things we did yesterday and expect different results… it doesn’t happen. Upskill and re-train, re-skill, and retain.

Read Alan’s pervious blog article and our other resources here.

North East Recruitment insights. Recruitment expert Alan Metcalfe

Changes to National Living and Minimum Wage 2021

Hi, welcome to the first of many ‘North East Business Insights’ blogs with me Alan Metcalfe. As we are still in lockdown, I thought I would start to share insights and information from sources available to me through reports and my network in the hope that this may help or educate employers on trends about the jobs market in the North East and inform employers on any relevant information which may affect businesses in general or make our lives easier.

Today I wanted to talk about the new living and minimum wages and this year there is a bit of a revolution afoot. As many of you are aware in previous years, legally those aged 25+ received the living wage and those 24 and under, the minimum wage.

This year as from the 1st April 2021 the living wage applies to those 23+ with the minimum wage for those below that age group. The living wage will then be £8.91 from £8.72 and the minimum wage £8.36 from £8.20 respectively. For 23 and 24-year-olds this means an 8.7% increase, jumping from the £8.20 minimum wage to the new living wage of £8.91.

This is a big change within the marketplace, particularly for those young workers in the jobs market, it represents changes across many industries where entry-level roles are amongst the lowest paid.

If you are an employer you need to start thinking about these changes now, and for employees, an increase in salary is always a welcome benefit and with the personal allowance for income tax increasing on the 6th April, a welcome change for what has been a challenging year for us all.

Should you need more information on this or any other topics around salaries and remuneration packages, please contact me on or 07971078177

Infographic on the changes to national living and minimum wage in April 2021

UMi and Zenith People newcastle recruitment agency partnership

Introducing UMi, exclusive recruitment for Tech and Data

An employee-owned business, UMi, based in a beautiful office space in Seaham, is on a mission to make it easier for businesses to get more done and go further.

They do this by connecting businesses with the right information, resources, expertise and inspiration to attract more customers, funding, talent and economic success.

Since 2007, UMi has helped more than 350,000 businesses across the UK by providing the right support packages and services to make better business decisions.

The team of savvy business experts translate the most complex information in a way that is easy to digest and understand and they are always looking to innovate this process and delivery. By taking advantage of new data and technology, UMi is looking to expand its digital capabilities by bringing in a range of digital experts, adding to its already fantastic teams.

We at Zenith People are hugely excited to be working in partnership with UMi to achieve this goal and by entering in a partnership with ourselves they have demonstrated how serious they are in attracting the right talent for the following roles: Front-End Developer, Junior Developer, Platform Tech Lead, Data Analyst, Dev Ops Engineer and UX Designer. These positions represent extremely exciting opportunities for qualified candidates to not only develop UMi’s infrastructure but also build new systems, build new applications, improve website UI and more. But also, to learn new technologies and develop their own skills, with opportunities to grow with a prospering employee-owned business that offers a wealth of employee benefits.

As an employer of choice, UMi has a fantastic track record with employee satisfaction and they’re proud of it. They understand a business is more than just bricks and mortar or numbers on a spreadsheet; they’re powered by people. With that in mind, as well as being an employee-owned company, employees have access to a plentiful benefit scheme including but not limited to; a healthcare cash plan, access to a discount app, 25 days holiday, the day off to enjoy your birthday, professional fee cost covered, cycle scheme, employee assistance programme and much more.

UMi has set out an ambitious plan to deliver by 2022 and beyond a digital business to deliver greater growth. They feel innovation in this sector is vital and with the demand from their stakeholders and clients, and through the success of the business, investment and plans have been allocated to bolster their digital technology and data offering. With new infrastructure, website development, mobile and tablet applications, data science, new platforms already under development and more projects in the pipeline, adding talent to their Tech and Data teams is a priority to help deliver on these adventurous and bespoke projects.


The key areas which UMi focus on and which you will help to deliver are:

• Business Enablement
• Project Delivery
• Direct Products UMi
• Data and Insights
• Infrastructure


Being able to do this will allow the business to reach its digital goal of:

• A shared service provision
• Develop their own solutions to support delivery
• Enhance technology and products, directly delivering business and value creation



If you are ambitious and driven by innovation UMi’s new roles could help you launch the next chapter of your career. Join a business where talented people thrive and where your personal long-term value is respected.

Want to know more about these data and technology opportunities? Send Eldon a message today on

A word from Scott:
From my perspective and overseeing the market in the position I am in; this is a very forward-thinking and exciting aim for the business. It is an opportunity within the sector and region for those who are looking for a chance to join a digitally forward-thinking company, to be involved in new and innovative projects that will make a huge difference not only to the company themselves but more importantly to the clients who rely on their services. If you are looking to be involved in a long-term strategic plan to change the digital scope of a business, if you want to work with a diverse team, with new and exciting technology and have a career path that will enhance your career professionally and personally then I would urge you to have a conversation with me to find out more.

Introducing UMi information on who UMi are and the roles available