By Charlotte Ashton, senior solicitor and head of immigration at ESP Law (www.esphr.co.uk)
The hospitality sector, while trying to recover from the pandemic, has been hit with a significant shortage of workers. Brexit, combined with the displacement of many people during the COVID crisis, means employers are struggling to fill tens of thousands of vacancies.
In addition to these issues, the industry acknowledges the need to ensure it is an attractive proposition for future employees by promoting potential career paths. Therefore, when facing these challenges, HR professionals must be creative to ensure that any recruitment difficulties are mitigated, and hospitality can start to thrive following a period of extreme difficulty.
Here are five concerns currently facing sector organisations, and the legal guidance and employee relations (ER) advice on how to tackle them…
1.THE BREXIT EFFECT
Much has been made of the impact of Brexit with many industry positions – normally held by EU workers – now being left open due to workers leaving the UK, and the need for new EU workers coming to the UK to hold a visa.
When hiring from outside the UK, an employer requires a sponsor licence and the role will need to be considered skilled enough for the individual to obtain a visa.
The ‘skilled worker’ visa is intended to be a simpler process than its predecessor, the Tier 2 visa, however it still poses a challenge for the hospitality sector.The main issues centre on many roles not being considered skilled enough and those which are, may fall short on the required minimum salary.
Positions which may be sponsored include head chefs, speciality chefs, and sous chefs as well as hotel managers. Employers considering this option will need to take specialist advice to ensure the jobs they are trying to fill, will allow them to sponsor workers from outside the UK.
2. PROMOTING HOSPITALITY AS A CAREER
In order to attract new recruits into this sector, the potential career paths available should be highlighted. HR teams can work with hospitality managers to ensure that policies and procedures around recruitment, training, retention, and promotion are clear and understandable so anyone joining a business can see there is a long-term future.
One appealing proposition for potential new recruits is the opportunity for individuals to complete apprenticeships – this also has a positive effect on employee retention. Government incentives are available for businesses who take on new apprentices too, which makes this an attractive option.
3. WHY ORGANISATIONS MIGHT WANT TO FOCUS ON PROVIDING RE-TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES
Many hospitality businesses have had to evolve their offer to keep going throughout the pandemic, which naturally results in a change in how staff work.This could mean that fewer front-of-house staff members are required, with more roles available for workers with particular skills – especially in kitchens.
HR teams can work with their managers to look at upskilling opportunities for staff to help boost motivation and morale. Development programmes can be planned too, with a view to long-term talent retention who make up a multi-skilled workforce.
4.THE IMPORTANCE OF PRIORITISING WELLBEING
The pandemic has highlighted the need to focus on staff welfare with many individuals suffering mental health issues due to the distress and confusion of the pandemic. HR managers should review existing policies and focus on Employee Assistance Programmes and other benefits to ensure workers are fully supported.
Additionally, engaging them in the implementation of wellbeing initiatives can prove to be meaningful and have a positive effect.
5. REVIEWING PAY AND BENEFITS
In a competitive recruitment market, employers will need to consider if the package they offer applicants is still attractive. Benchmarking should be carried out to ensure pay on offer is appropriate in the current climate. HR managers should also think creatively around non-pay benefits and consider what they can offer which truly appeals to the people they want to recruit.
There are clearly challenges ahead, but also opportunities for HR professionals to help shape long-lasting and rewarding career paths within the hospitality sector. Now is the time to position their business as an ‘employer of choice’ as organisations look to grow and thrive beyond the pandemic.