Professional Comment

Addressing The Staffing Crisis In The Hospitality Sector

By Henry Seddon, Managing Director, Access Hospitality (

The hospitality industry has been severely impacted by the pandemic, with large sections of the sector shut down for months on end. Disruption in the industry has led to worker shortages, and job vacancies are at the highest level on record. With travel restrictions easing and more people venturing out to restaurants and bars – technology will play a key role in the recovery of the sector and elevating the employee and customer experience. Even so, finding skilled workers remains a challenge.

The rapid changes in the hospitality industry, paired with the challenges of the pandemic and Brexit, are causing vacancies to soar. By second quarter of 2021, hospitality vacancies were 21% higher than pre-pandemic lev- els, and with the arrival of summer 2021, those figures were already 60% higher than Q2. Meanwhile, the number of job listings in September were 158% higher than they were before the pandemic.This sharp increase in vacancies demonstrates that there are still significant hurdles to jump during this period of recovery. The Access Group recently examined some of these issues in a joint panel discussion focused on The Staffing Crisis: Help is at hand – attract, retain and develop your top talent, with several leading industry experts delving into how to create lasting change and tackle some of the pressing modern-day challenges for recruitment across various industries.

Britain’s exit from the European Union and COVID-19 have created a whirlwind of change that continues to increase with time and will no doubt leave a lasting legacy.The positive news is that the hospitality industry is undergoing a rapid transformation, enabled by technology. As we depart from ‘survival mode’ post pandemic, how can we accelerate the process of bringing the hospitality sector back to life and fill the vacancies caused by the pandemic through use of technology?


Traditionally, the hospitality industry has relied much on seasonal and EU workers to fill positions. Now, the sector is having to compete with other industries, and sub-sectors within hospitality, for the same smaller pool of seasonal part-time workers.The current challenges in the sector will not be easily rectified, but data-driven, tailored strategies will help ensure you are reaching your best potential candidates amid this crisis.

Andy Larkin, EarlyPay specialist at The Access Group, shared the importance of “adapting to the current climate by leveraging technology to work on your brand to create a data-driven candidate communications strategy”. In addition, he emphasised the significance of employee benefits as a key way to attract and retain talent. Jamie Campbell, Director of Learning at CPL Learning – an Access company, highlighted the benefits of having a strong visual presence and showcasing your staff on social media, especially posting promotions or career changes to attract some of the best talent.


Unprecedented challenges require extraordinary solutions, and the staffing crisis is no different.Agility and resilience in recruitment are vital now. Alice Barriball, Head of Resources at Marston’s, highlighted the significance of driving strategies on social media, particularly video based, to appeal to a wider range of applicants.

Meanwhile, Matt Comber, Product Manager at The Access Group, suggests that “showing snapshots of your organisation online can be beneficial to new applicants as it allows future employees to visualise a day in the life of an employee at your company or even talk about more informal topics. Alongside this, trying out your application process yourself as a hiring manager for transparency can be vastly beneficial”.

Digitisation and the use of apps, especially in industries who expect a busy seasonal period like hospitality and e-commerce, will prove invaluable for delivering faster hires at scale.