Many Hospitality SMEs to Reward Staff with the “Gift of Time at Christmas Ahead of Challenging 2023

Many hospitality and leisure SMEs are rewarding staff with the gift of time over the festive season, according to the latest quarterly Barclays SME Barometer. The study shows that 9 per cent of small and medium hospitality and leisure businesses will give their employees 3.5 additional days off, on average.

This is part of a wider national trend as Barclays’ research shows that over half a million of the UK’s smaller businesses said they’ll be gifting each employee 2.5 extra days leave, on average. This means that SME staff across the country will receive 120,345,602 days off cumulatively.

The Barclays research also found that 45 per cent of hospitality and leisure SME employers believe staff activities leading up to the festive season contribute to employee retention. Similarly, a third (33 per cent) of consumers say they are less likely to look for another job if their employer organises activities to reward staff over the Christmas period.

In fact, of hospitality and leisure employers who are seeing an increase in demand for benefits from new employees, more annual leave is one of the top three benefits being requested by existing employees, according to 33 per cent of small businesses, behind more flexible working (71 per cent) and higher wages (70 percent).

In addition to providing time off, more than 4 in 10 (43 per cent) of hospitality and leisure SMEs will be hosting end-of-year parties, spending an average of £35 per head on festivities, while 28 per cent will be closing offices between Christmas and New Year and 20 per cent will be awarding Christmas bonuses.

Q3 SME Revenues
Although data from Barclaycard Payments, showed a slight decrease of 1.58 per cent in the value of card payments to SMEs from July to September 2022, compared to the same period in 2021, over two thirds (65 per cent) of hospitality and leisure SMEs reported their total revenue grew.

More than half (58 per cent) of hospitality and leisure SMEs reported turnover growth in Q3 2022 against Q2 2022, consistent with data from Barclaycard Payments, which showed a minor increase of 0.27 per cent in the value and 1.62 per cent in the volume of payments made to SMEs between July and September this year.
Businesses expect growth to continue throughout the festive season, as over 45 per cent predict a year-on-year revenue increase in Q4, and 42 per cent expect revenues to grow from Q3 to Q4 this year.

Macro-economic concerns
Festive cheer and optimism are, however, dampened by the cost-of-living crunch as nearly two thirds (59 per cent) of hospitality and leisure SMEs are worried about their business prospects for 2023.

Furthermore, 9 in 10 (90 per cent) are concerned about the negative impact that rising energy bills will have on their business, with 29 per cent feeling very concerned.

Larger businesses are feeling the pinch too, with nearly two-thirds (59 per cent) predicting a decrease in consumer spending, and 41 per cent worrying about their businesses prospects as they approach 2023.

Colin O’Flaherty, Head of SME at Barclaycard Payments, said:
“The upcoming festive period will be our first since the pandemic without restrictions, with both employers and employees looking to make the most of it.

“While it’s been yet another challenging year for hospitality and leisure businesses, many SMEs are looking to inject some festive cheer by rewarding their employees, as business owners are aware of the positive impact that employee morale can have on staff retention.

“Our research, however, shows that although owners are very aware of the difficulties to come, they remain resilient in the face of risings costs, and we hope this festive period allows them to celebrate their achievements and ring in the New Year with energy and a degree of optimism.”