As the UK’s dynamic and diverse hospitality sector fully reopens after months of social distancing measures, many of us are returning to our local restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. But for a sector that exists to bring people together, the devastating impact of the pandemic has created an overwhelming recruitment crisis. Across the hospitality industry, there are significant staff shortages across the country, with around 188,000 open positions currently, as the influences of Brexit, the pandemic and career changes begin to take their toll. Hiring bottlenecks have prompted hospitality firms to hire temporary workers to fill rotas and increase wages to further incentivise applications. This may be suitable as a short-term solution, but businesses could be missing out on key talent if they are only focused on hiring people with their preferred experience and skills.
So, how can organisations rethink their strategy for the increasing demand in staff?
Reading between the lines of experience
The shortage of employees is forcing hospitality venues to turn away keen customers and confront a larger issue: how to make hospitality an inviting industry where people choose to work. The demand from customers is certainly there; after months of closures, people are eager to eat and drink out.
After the past 18 months of uncertainty, we have all navigated through a maze of furlough, redundancies, and lockdowns. In the hospitality industry especially, many lost their jobs overnight with no alternatives to turn to. Restaurants and pubs say that up to a quarter of those employed before the pandemic will not return to their old jobs.
Organisations need to be understanding and adaptable when hiring talent. When it comes to searching for new staff, businesses must shift their expectations and prerequisites for new hires. Hiring managers should consider beyond having the declarative mindset ‘I must hire people with the most relevant experience’ and towards looking for the people who have the potential and capabilities to do the job. This allows businesses to cast a larger recruitment net into new waters and find great candidates. Although challenging at first, given the current urgency of the hiring crisis for hospitality, thinking this way will be beneficial in the long term.
By looking beyond a list of previous experiences on a CV and hiring for the potential in a candidate, firms can discover hidden gems. The hospitality industry is unique from many other sectors in that employees quickly grasp the work if they have the passion, and a great attitude, all with no formal educational background. And it’s possible to climb the ladder quickly. By migrating from the elimination mindset of scrutinising experience and instead moving to a discovery mindset, hospitality firms may surprise themselves.
Get creative with benefits
The hospitality industry has historically been a very intense industry to work in, with long, inconsistent hours and often low pay. Now that venues are back in business, a re-assessment is required to offer a better working environment for prospective employees. Offering a consistent schedule and competitive wages for employees, as well as focusing on providing development opportunities, hospitality firms can tap into an employment pool of focused, motivated candidates. It is important when advertising jobs, the full benefits of the role and any unique offerings of your firm are properly communicated to stimulate interest.
Improving the reputation as a career option
For the younger generations, they aspire to learn in a role where they feel like they are heard and listened to. In the hospitality industry, there has often been a strict management style, but moving forward to a more inclusive style of leadership will lead to higher retention of employees and a tight-knit team.
For many firms, the pandemic has acted as a wake-up call, leading to more innovative strategies within recruitment. And now is the time for the hospitality industry to permanently change working conditions and reset older, traditional ways of recruitment. The hospitality industry must make the career paths within it appealing to candidates with training and opportunities for development.
Want to hear about how Pret A Manger put its people first during the pandemic? Read their story, here.