The Hospitality Staffing Crisis
Thousands of workers have left the hospitality industry and won’t come back. Hotels, restaurants, pubs, and attractions will not be able to fully reopen if businesses cannot find enough staff. Why are we facing this hospitality crisis and how can it be solved?
Why are people leaving?
The pandemic left around 2 million UK hospitality staff furloughed, and many more were made redundant.
During the furlough, businesses assumed that they still retained their current staff. But the reality is that a significant part of the furloughed workforce had moved on. People moved from hotels to supermarkets, and from restaurants to delivery drivers. Many businesses did not anticipate this loss of workforce, and this resulted in staff shortages.
The impact of Brexit has been felt by the hospitality sector. Particularly in those areas who rely on European workers (London’s workforce compromised of up to 38.0% EU nationals).
With many Europeans no longer eligible to work in the UK and others leaving, the pool of applicants has significantly fallen. Britain now has almost 1 million fewer non-UK-born residents than 2019, and this does not look like changing any time soon.
The industry appears unstable: the first to close during the pandemic and the last to open. Saturated with zero-hour contracts and low wages, many no longer see any job security in hospitality. Given the difficulties of the previous year, job security is now more important than ever for those seeking new roles.
Can we really call it a crisis?
Mitchells & Butlers have lost 9,000 staff since last year, Pizza Express is looking for 1,000 new staff, D&D are recruiting 400 and Corbin & King have to find 110 more staff than they expected to need. Businesses are already cutting down on their opening hours, reducing menus and creating simpler experiences. All as a response to staff shortages.
But is this just a very short-term hiccup? Could short recruitment drive not simply solve this problem? Well, People 1st has estimated that by 2024 we will still need to recruit 1.3 million hospitality workers and believe that staff shortages are here to stay.
This is not an exclusively British problem. The hospitality sectors in Australia and the US heavily rely on staff with working visas. And travel restrictions mean that these workers are not available. Businesses across the world have been unable to fully open as a result of these staff shortages.
Without staff willing to serve and host guests, then we do not have a hospitality industry.
So yes, we are experiencing a hospitality crisis.
What can businesses do to stop people from leaving?
For many it is too late, the staff have moved on to other industries. But the current circumstances have only exacerbated the long-running issue of retention for hospitality businesses.
Hospitality jobs can be seen by some as merely temporary earners and the exciting dynamic career opportunities in the industry are not considered. Therefore, the industry as a whole must act to showcase the opportunities and the benefits of working within this exciting sector. This can be achieved in multiple ways, such as connecting individuals to allow them to learn from those who’ve already trodden their path in hospitality, and can mentor, support and inspire; offering detailed and first-hand insights on the diverse potential paths to take.
Mentoring increases staff engagement which in turn supports staff retention. Simply forming relationships with staff, supporting them and providing them a community feel in the workplace can increase morale and support retention.
Businesses must act now to ensure that they can retain their current workforce or else this crisis will continue to harm the industry.
How to solve the staffing crisis?
Simply retaining current staff won’t solve this crisis. We must encourage new labour to enter the industry. It is important to showcase the careers in hospitality and provide inspiration to enter hospitality.
We believe that mentoring can do this.