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.

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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