As venues reopen...

Hospitality faces growing staff shortage crisis

Wagamama, service, hospitality, restaurant

Venues have seen workers find other jobs or leave the country (pic: Terry Murden)

Nine in 10 hospitality business leaders expect to face staff shortages this year, according to new data.

Half (51%) of those responding to a poll anticipate shortages in all roles, with another 39% concerned about back of house roles only.

The figures reinforce widespread concerns about a crisis in hospitality recruitment as trading restrictions ease.

Many restaurant, pub and bar staff have left their jobs during lockdowns, and Brexit has also caused a steep drop in people travelling from Europe to work in the UK.

Shortages appear to have caught many employers by surprise. The Business Confidence Survey from CGA and Fourth, a hospitality technology company, shows half (51%) of leaders have found that the reduced recruitment pool has been a bigger issue than they anticipated since restrictions began to ease.

Nine in 10 (88%) employers now expect to hire staff this year—half (44%) of them to a greater extent than expected—while just 4% are confident they will not need any new recruits.

Although two thirds (67%) of leaders remain confident about their ability to recruit, retain and train staff, there is likely to be intense competition for available labour in the coming months, increasing the pressure on businesses to keep hold of team members.

Business leaders are also concerned about drops in staff productivity. Nearly half (47%) say improving employee productivity will be a major focus for their business in 2021, with just 4% unconcerned about the issue. With many staff only just back at work after many months of on-off furlough, employers now face the challenge of engaging and motivating teams.

Anxiety about staff, along with concerns over sales, input costs and the risk of further restrictions, could dampen business optimism in the coming weeks. Ahead of full reopening, the Business Confidence Survey showed that 79% of leaders were optimistic about prospects for the eating and drinking out market—the highest level for just over six years.

Karl Chessell, CGA’s director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “It’s already apparent that recruitment and retention are going to be huge concerns for hospitality over the remainder of 2021.

Post-Brexit shortages had been expected for some time, but COVID-19 has multiplied the difficulties and many businesses are already facing a staffing crisis at the worst possible time.”

Sebastien Sepierre, managing director – EMEA, Fourth, said: “The survey paints a very stark picture of the staffing crisis currently facing the hospitality industry.

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“We know from our data that the number of EU workers in the UK hospitality workforce fell by 4% when comparing the first quarter of 2021 with 2019.

“This, coupled with a 12% reduction in new starters from EU countries over the same period, has exacerbated the impact of the pandemic on the workforce, generating the most challenging recruitment market in recent memory.

“In the face of a shrinking pool of workers and increasing consumer demand, improving employee productivity has clearly become a major focus for operators.”

Homeless helped into hospitality

Charitable group Onlyapavementaway is helping people facing homelessness as well as prison leavers and veterans find jobs in the hospitality and other sectors.

Over the next six years it is estimated that there will be around 1.3million vacancies in the hospitality industry. At the same time, the number of people facing or at risk of homelessness is on the increase.

Since late 2018 the charity has helped nearly a hundred people find jobs and its target for the next three years is to help 700 into work thereby adding £29.9 million to the economy.

One Comment to Hospitality faces growing staff shortage crisis

  1. I am one of those who left hospitality during lockdown and I do not miss it. It was clear that hospitality was in no state to be open last year as it was impossible to enforce social distancing guidelines. Staff were at risk and where I worked we had Covid infections amongst staff. You could say that some of us felt like we had been thrown under the bus.

    All of these ‘business leaders’ claimed that it would be perfectly safe to reopen last year and that the virus does not spread through pubs, restaurants and hotels. How wrong they all were! Meanwhile those of us who worked in the industry all saw it coming. I anonymously contacted my local paper warning them about what was going to happen after a very busy weekend last October and much busier than normal for that time of the year and within a week we had Covid infections amongst staff. No one seemed interested in my story almost as though they would rather see these places open at their own leisure without caring about the people who worked in them.

    The staff are voting with their feet and if this hits the industry then so be it. They have disregarded their staff for too long!

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