Two Solutions to Hospitality’s Brexit Staff Shortage

Joe Cripps
Jan 2021
3 min read

What staffing shortage?

If you’re already aware of the 5 biggest challenges facing pubs in 2018, you’ll be familiar with the extra difficulties businesses are facing when it comes to staffing.

With Brexit terms still uncertain, EU employees are already considering their options. Depending on how negotiations unfold, the coming months could see them unable to continue working in the UK, or facing masses of red tape to stay.

Meanwhile, some EU nationals are choosing not to seek employment in the UK altogether, to avoid the same complications.

For hospitality, this translates to a significant reduction in skilled staff at every level of the industry. Two solutions have emerged to help overcome the shortage: training and efficiency.

Training Schemes

To combat the shrinking pool of talent — as well as the worrying statistic that only 17% of UK millennials would consider a job in hospitality — some brands have taken it upon themselves to close the ‘Brexit skills gap’. This approach ensures the hospitality ecosystem still has access to important skills, and allows for employees to develop their talents. The end result is loyalty, ability, and a wider talent pool.

Pret A Manger is one such brand opting to focus on the skills gap. Their Pret Apprenticeship scheme will offer 120 candidates the opportunity to complete a fully-funded business management degree, and will see them trained up from store staff to managers and beyond. In the long-term, candidates receive qualifications and the opportunity to complete a BA in business management at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Pret has been working hard to attract staff post-Brexit since April 2017, with the brand reaching out through social media and the Job Centre. Pret’s Director of People, Andrea Wareham, has been particularly vocal on the subject, explaining to MPs the difficulties they would face if unable to employ EU nationals. This new scheme answers the uncertainty of those conditions with a resounding solution: an offer which benefits both parties.

Embracing Efficiency

Re-tooling organisational efficiency is another possible approach; rather than growing the industry’s talent pool.

With service industry investment in automation increasing by 25% in recent years, it’s no real surprise that technology is playing a role in tackling the staffing challenge. Operations managers are turning their gaze inward, asking how their organisations can become more efficient.

To this end, automation plays a significant role, with the workplace of the future allowing new starters to hit the ground running through consistent, automated and personalised training checklists.

This approach allows managers and supervisors to focus on day-to-day operations, but also ensures that all new employees receive the same standard of training through an efficient introductory process.

There’s also much to be said for brands ditching paperwork and replacing clunky old software with an upgrade to lighten the workload. By digitising paper processes and doing away with email and spreadsheets, employee duties take less time and need fewer individuals to complete — allowing for flexibility in meeting staffing requirements.

The Challenges Ahead

As Brexit terms are hashed out in Brussels, and the hospitality industry remains unsure of its hiring potential in the coming years, staffing will continue to present challenges.

Acknowledging that there’s a hurdle to clear, however, is a significant step towards navigating Brexit’s choppy waters. From there, organisations can make important decisions around how they’ll rise to the challenge — whether it’s through closing the skills gap, or developing new efficiencies.

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