Hospitality Employers Must Listen To Staff To Tackle Recruitment Crisis

As the latest vacancy figures from Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the hospitality sector facing its worst-ever recruitment crisis, employers will need to pay closer attention to the expectations and aspirations of employees, warns workforce management specialist Bizimply.

The new ONS vacancy figures, published on 16 November show that the UK had a record 1.17m job vacancies in the three months to October. The number of vacancies has increased across all industries, with the accommodation and foodservice activities, which includes the hospitality sector, recording the second highest number of vacancies, at 151,000. Only the healthcare sector has more jobs to fill in the current market.

Despite this, a survey of hospitality employers for a recent report, produced by Bizimply and consultancy Hospitality Mavericks, found that one in five businesses are taking no steps to recruit and retain team members.

The report, called From Fragile to Agile: How to Navigate the New Era of Hospitality, also identified a shortfall in investment in systems, such as scheduling tools, that can help to improve employees' experience and job satisfaction, as well as freeing up staff to deliver great customer service.

Conor Shaw, CEO of Bizimply, said: “The ONS figures are a stark indicator of the challenges that hospitality operators are facing. Not only are most businesses running with vacancies, but experienced hospitality staff are being courted by other employers. People want to feel valued, and will move on quickly if they don't.

“The reality is that those operators who have previously seen staff as a commodity to be replaced whenever necessary, rather than an asset to be retained and invested in, will have to adopt a different approach.

“That doesn’t just mean salary, although the UK government has made it clear that hospitality employers are expected to meet the upward pressure on wages. It also means investing in training and career development, and understanding that part time staff, such as students and single parents, have commitments other than work.”

The report surveyed senior operators representing hundreds of outlets, employing thousands of staff, with responses from across the hospitality sector, from fine dining and hotels to pubs and bars, coffee shops and fast-food outlets.

It found that, in response to the staffing shortage:

  • 21% of respondents are taking no additional steps to recruit new employees or retain existing team members.
  • 32% are increasing their training and development
  • 21% are increasing pay and 10% improving staff benefits.
  • 11% percent are looking to change working patterns, such as offering four-day weeks.

Shaw said: “These figures show that fewer than half of employers are taking any steps at all to address working conditions. Our report also found that only 34% of employers recognise that implementing new technology can improve employees' experience and job satisfaction.

“Of course, hospitality businesses face challenges other than staffing, such as property costs, compliance and rising supply side inflation, but ultimately it's people that give a business the edge over the competition. Technology that frees up front-line staff to deliver great customer service, is key.”