5 reviews
16:04 13 Mar 23
Highly recommended! Josh and Sarah have been fantastic at Astute. They've found and placed me in 2 jobs now between them, both really responsive and excellent at keeping you up to speed with things. Very knowledgable about the roles and happy to talk to companies with any queries you have.
C R.C R.
10:45 27 Jan 23
Great agency one of the best ones I've worked with! Liz has been a great help and support in helping me towards a new direction in my career life. She is very attentive and keeps me in the loop at all times! She makes the extra effort to work with my preferred requirements for work and even if it isn't completely attainable she meets me in the middle and does as much as she can to help! Also Liz is very funny might I add 😂 and I'm happy that I can now put a face to the name after all these years! Thank you again Liz for all your help and support! 😊
10:32 20 Dec 22
Josh and the Astute team was very swift to help me to find roles that matched my profile. They are really reliable and will help through every step of the recruitment process going out of their way to assist and follow up when needed. Could not find a better recruitment agency!
Helen PinegarHelen Pinegar
16:19 18 Dec 22
Fantastic recruitment agency.. Josh was extremely enthusiastic, encouraging and clearly knowledgeable about what was needed from both the employee and the employers point of view. Extremely supportive especially in regards to interview preparation and endeavoured to procure feedback promptly. Wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Astute in the future to both candidates and recruiting businesses particularly for the right fit for the role!!!
Lisa LeighLisa Leigh
11:56 30 Nov 22
I have worked as a candidate for Astute and they have been excellent. Super friendly service and professional agents keen to fit the right person to the right job. It has been a pleasure dealing with them and I would happily work for them again in the future. Highly recommend this agency.
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10th of the 10th – World Mental Health Day – What does that mean to you?
10th of the 10th – World Mental Health Day – What does that mean to you?

10th of the 10th  – World Mental Health Day – What does that mean to you?

Mental health is no friend of age, race, creed or colour.

It does not discriminate between male and female.

It does not care if you are rich or poor.

But you or I should.

Look around your office. If you have a team of 4+ staff, on average, one of you will be affected by Mental Health.

Those are the hard facts.

So, don’t dismiss the 10th of the 10th.

Instead think about your work colleagues, friends, family and neighbours. Think about whether a friendly word, smile, some small act of re-assurance or a kindly deed could just make that all important difference to someone not in your sphere of happiness.

That’s what World Mental Health Day is about, and what every single day is about too.

I hope this article resonates with some of you reading this and if even a few are motivated to make a difference, no matter how small, to someone, the 10th of the 10th will be worthwhile. If you are someone who is affected by Mental Health – hopefully, these few words will sustain, encourage and give you the confidence to know you are not alone and there ARE people who care.

Just one of the many charities specialising in Mental Health is https://www.mqmentalhealth.org/ where you can find out more about the issues and how these can be overcome.


By Mary Maguire

MD – Astute Recruitment Ltd


How to inspire potential new hires to work in your team
How to inspire potential new hires to work for your team

Employee Benefits & Initiatives – ‘Creating Desire in your Hires and existing team’

We asked several HR Managers, CFO’s and Financial Directors, if they would be interested in us providing guidance and advice around employee benefits and staff initiatives.

The aim?

To improve candidate attraction throughout the hiring process and also to appeal to existing valued staff.

We thought we would share this information as the feedback has been so positive…..

We now have a deeply competitive job market – not just in Derbyshire but across the East Midlands and beyond.

Employee benefits and initiatives have become increasingly important to employers looking to attract top local talented professionals and for employees as part of their decision making process when choosing whether to accept a job or not. Increasingly people looking for a new job are not just thinking of the basic salary but the overall package a future employer can offer that fit in with their own life, family and commitments. Employee Benefits have also become a key issue  in terms of improving staff retention for employers.

This is particularly important when employers are either seeking to retain specific, valued, sector trained staff across disciplines including accountancy, marketing, engineering etc. and to attract those with key talents into their business and not into the arms of one of their competitors!


The important key trends in benefit provision for employees are now focussed on: –

  • Flexible working
  • Pensions
  • Holiday entitlement
  • Flexible Benefits Package
  • Staff Discounts
  • Childcare Vouchers
  • Wellness at work – including employer’s attitudes to mental health and environmental factors
  • Staff incentives/ initiatives


Flexible working  –   If companies can offer core hours of working with the employee able to gear the extra hours to make up the full working week either before the core hours or after are particularly popular. For instance, staff being able to work 7-4, 8-5, 9-6.

Pensions  –  While changes to UK Pension policy for businesses and business owners through auto-enrolment have been established, many companies just offer the standard minimum allowances.  If a business can offer a tiered scheme according to seniority of position and longevity of service to their staff this is a real consideration in the employee market place for staff looking for a new role and for those deciding whether to stay with their existing employer.

Holiday Entitlement  –  The norm is now 25 days plus Annual Statutory Bank Holidays with an increasing amount of companies offering up to 30 days tiered according to longevity of service of staff and seniority of position.

Flexible Benefits Package  –  Whereby an employee is given a ‘benefit pot’ worth a certain amount of money whereby additional holidays can be purchased at the expense of one of the other benefits to suit that person’s individual circumstances.

Staff Discounts  –  Whereby the business is able to offer discounts on their own products or services to staff (e.g. several major East Midlands retailers offer significant staff discounts off the standard retail price of their products!). Alternatively companies can use the services of businesses specifically able to provide employee discounts from leisure/ retail outlets.

Childcare vouchers  –  For any employees with families this is a really big consideration and if employers are able to offer this – particularly to staff with very young children this is a major consideration for staff looking for work and also those currently employed.

Wellness at work  –  If companies/ employers are able to demonstrate their ability to recognise, reward and genuinely value their hardworking staff through awards, personal development plans, financial support with professional training costs – all of these count enormously. Along-side these are demonstration of softer benefits such as provision of a clean, friendly and safe environment for staff to work. Many businesses include staff areas where staff can have their lunch, rest and relax. Some businesses have games facilities for instance. Mental health at work for employees is also increasingly important. Have a policy on how to support your staff if they should have any mental health worries or concerns and promote this! Sometimes it is just having an empathetic but responsible ear in the business environment who staff know they can turn to confidentially which can make all the difference.

A working example of the staff benefits currently offered to a major overseas Parent company with wholly owned UK Subsidiaries / SME hubs in the East Midlands is included below: –

  • 25 days’ holiday plus statutory bank holidays
  • Subsidised canteen
  • Standard 35 hour working week* Extra hours need to be worked during busy periods
  • Flexible working (depending grade of role and the department – i.e. certain staff have to provide office cover between 8.30- 9. 30. For management graded roles – (i.e. usually for  fully qualified accountants) – there would normally be flexible working with the core hours between 10am-4pm. In certain finance departments most staff work 9-5 but they would still have to have the cover in the department for the 30 minutes each side of that on a rota basis.
  • Company Pension Scheme (employer contributions tiered from 5% to 7% depending on the seniority of the employee) – staff can match these contributions up to 1% below the employer’s contributions. Defined benefit schemes are popular in this regard but increasingly rare. If your business can offer a pension scheme above the statutory minimum you will really stand out.
  • Company bonus scheme (awarded according to the company’s performance and the employee’s achievement of KPIs). For more senior staff, bonus is a higher percentage (say 10% of salary) with their personal KPI’s / performance making up to 50% of the overall bonus awarded as they are likely to contribute more to the business’ profitability on a per capita basis.
  • Staff discounts on own brands (where applicable) or offering other retailer discounts/ gym membership etc.
  • Car Allowances – for Financial Controller/ Finance Director and management positions in general – car allowances are increasingly favoured by potential employees as part of the overall benefits package – particularly as they would receive any car allowance on a monthly basis in addition to their salary. Typically car allowance schemes are between £5,000 – £8,000 per annum with Executive / Director positions usually offering £10,000 – £12,000 per annum.
  • Ability to purchase extra benefits: Some employers will have a scheme in place whereby staff are able to purchase additional holidays up to one week’s worth. Alternatively on a salary sacrifice basis they would be able to purchase additional pension or other benefits to suit their specific needs.
  • Free Car parking
  • For finance staff,  the 6-week period after year-end can mean accounts staff are expected to work significant extra hours to help while the post year-end audit work is completed and statutory filings / shareholder information is processed and published. After that period, it is acknowledged that if there are any significant extra hours required, then time off in lieu can be issued at the line managers discretion.


For many SME businesses, not all or even most of the core key benefits will be practical. If an employer can incorporate just some of these to their existing benefits package, it is proven to be a valuable consideration to existing staff assessing their future with their employer and for employers looking to attract the best local talent available.


Alternatively – what initiatives can your SME business offer to staff that won’t impact on the day to day but increase productivity, performance and profits?

Some initiatives needn’t cost a lot of money AND can be tailored to your own SME business where some of the above more ‘corporate’ benefits would not be possible.

The key is demonstrating and promoting to your team and to new potential staff, that they matter and harnessing that team spirit.

At Astute we have our Reward Board – envelopes with numbers pinned to a board! The numbers correspond to certain tasks individuals need to achieve – be it a testimonial, client visit or placement. Once one of the team has achieved the ‘task’ they choose one of the numbered envelopes and write their name on that envelope. Once all the envelopes are ‘claimed’ we have an opening ceremony. The team are allocated their envelopes and open them. Prizes include starting later, retail discounts, early finish on a Friday and more!

We are also very careful to ensure that the ‘tasks’ are for everyone so our brilliant admin team can also take part and have their own ‘goals’ to achieve. If you are going to have a team scheme like the Reward Board – you need to ensure that EVERYONE is included and can take part!

So, inspire desire in YOUR business for potential hires and existing staff by thinking about how you can add value to your benefits scheme and team initiatives.

Your future and existing staff will thank you!