Two Solutions to Hospitality’s Staff Shortages

Joe Cripps
 • 
Jul 2021
2 min read

After the double crisis of Covid and Brexit, UK’s hospitality businesses are facing severe staff shortages.

During the pandemic, nearly 80% of hospitality workers were furloughed—the highest proportion out of all UK industries. People turned to different industries to seek employment. And many EU hospitality workers returned to their home countries.

Studies estimate over 1 million people left the UK during 2020, with roughly 30% of them being hospitality workers. This was also fuelled by Brexit, with tougher immigration rules meaning people in ‘low skilled’ positions can no longer work in the UK.

UK hospitality is now said to be short of around 188,000 workers, with the shortage of front-of-house staff and chefs being the worst.

Hospitality businesses are desperately seeking staff to take advantage of the increase in demand and recoup some of the money lost over the past year.

But how can businesses attract and retain staff? Below, we explore two solutions that have emerged to help overcome the staffing crisis: training and improved efficiency.

Training

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 brand opting to focus on the skills gap—they have an apprenticeship scheme that gives candidates the opportunity to complete a fully-funded business management degree, while training them up from store staff to managers and beyond.

Embracing Efficiency

With fewer people to drive action and so much more to do each day, businesses need to adopt new tools to bridge the inevitable gap.

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.

Technology can also be used to improve training and onboarding, helping new starters hit the ground running through consistent, automated, and personalised training checklists.

This allows managers and supervisors to focus on the day-to-day operations and also ensures that new employees receive the same standard of training (even when you’re at your busiest).

The Challenges Ahead

With the long-term implications of Covid and Brexit unknown, what’s clear is that the industry needs to rise to the challenge. Whether it’s through closing the skills gap or developing new efficiencies, businesses need to act now.

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