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Attracting The Right People In The Tightening Labour Market

Many UK hospitality businesses, especially smaller owner-managed ones, need to revamp their approach to recruiting because of growing labour shortages that will worsen through the UK exiting the European Union.

Currently EU nationals make up around a fifth of workers in the sector (according to the Office of National Statistics), and there are now fewer arriving and potentially many heading home. For instance, accountants KPMG estimates that the hospitality sector employs more than three million people in the UK, and it warns that with no new migration into the UK hospitality businesses may face a recruitment shortfall of more than 60,000 people each year.

So, the competition for workers, wherever they come from is already hotting up. For owners and managers that means filling vacancies will get tougher, and simply continually increasing pay to make the job more attractive is often not feasible or desirable.

However, I find many smaller businesses do not help themselves when it comes to recruiting, and in fact sell themselves short by making the job sound me-too and samey, not selling the benefits of working for an owner-managed business or simply approaching it too casually.

With fewer workers and more competition for them, approaching recruitment professionally and systematically is the best way to get good people, especially in a tight labour marketing.

First of all, make sure your business is attractive online. Most people investigate employers online, particularly the young… and as the average age of people working in pubs and restaurants is under 30, your website and social media shows you off as a great place to work. A cobwebby presence creates all the wrong message for customers and employees alike.

For instance, authenticity and visualness work well on social media. So, do talk about the aspects of your business that you are most proud of and have inspiring photos. For bars, for instance, a great photo of your barkeeper passionately whipping up an amazing Whisky Sour will bring more impact that a wordy job description… whether to candidates or punters.

Besides doing a better job of selling the job and your business as a great place to work, the other key to attracting the right staff is to ensure you have plenty to chose from for each vacancy.

Don’t just rely on a card in the window, mates of the existing staff and a quick Facebook post. Be on as many job sites as possible as there are lots out there (to give some perspective on the number out there ThatRecruit.com deals with over 1,200 job boards). This also allows you to reach suitable people who are not actively searching but could be tempted by the right opportunity.

My recommendation is that you should treat each vacancy, whether a bar manager or a waiter, as business critical. After all, that person will be representing your business to the customers who meet them, so your reputation is in their hands. By putting in the effort to make working at your business attractive, communicating it really well and attracting plenty of applicants for each vacancy, you will get great staff regardless of the size of your business or the recruitment problems your larger competitors are experiencing.

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