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