Staff shortages force rushed onboarding in hospitality sector

During the Covid-19 pandemic thousands of hospitality workers left the sector, and have since found alternative employment, leaving a huge staff shortage for hoteliers and restaurant owners. Desperate for staff, some firms are hiring employees within 24 hours of receiving their application.

No CV or prior experience

One of the largest international hotel brands has stated that because they require 35,000 workers across their global operation, they have started to hire staff who have no CV or prior job experience; including students and migrants.

Newly recruited staff members are given six hours of training on the job, and many have been offered higher pay and perks such as free hotel accommodation, health insurance and bonus schemes.

European Tourism - Spain and Portugal

The problem is particularly acute in Europe, with Spain and Portugal relying on tourism for 13 and 15% respectively, of their economic output.

Many hotels are restricting services to open at peak times only, when extra staff (in particular, students) are available to work, such as weekends.

According to national hospitality associations, Spain requires an extra 200,000 workers to support its catering industry, with Portugal requiring an extra 15,000 members of staff to work in their hotels.

Many staff left the sector during the pandemic, and have since found alternative employment which offers more stability than the hospitality work:

“No one respects contracts and you never know what your hours are...You have to work till closing time but you don’t know when that is and you end up working a lot of unpaid hours.”

Jeffrey Feliz Jiménez, former waiter in Almeria

Hospitality in the UK - restaurant insolvencies up 60%

A recent study by UKHospitality found that approximately 15% of roles in the sector are currently vacant in the UK, with almost half of hospitality companies being forced to cut their operating hours.

An increase of more than 60% in the number of UK restaurants falling into insolvency over the past year, illustrates the direct effect of the cost of living crisis and staff shortages.

In the 12 months to May 2022, 1,406 restaurants closed in the UK.

“Restaurants that only just managed to survive the pandemic thanks to government support are now facing fresh challenges in the form of rising inflation, a post-Brexit labour shortage and consumers who simply cannot afford to spend as much.”

Peter Kubik, partner at UHY Hacker Young

The cost of living crisis has caused a slow in consumer spending, as prices of fuel and food both climb, meaning that less people are venturing out to eat and drink. The predicted increase in the annual energy price cap from October, and the possibility that inflation could rise to 12% towards the end of the year, also poses serious future challenges.

Post-Brexit restrictions on EU workers have also meant that skilled hospitality staff from the EU have become much harder to source also.

The importance of screening

Despite the need to onboard staff quickly, hospitality businesses should be mindful of the importance of pre-employment screening, particularly ensuring candidate’s Right to Work in the UK, robust identity checks, and criminal record checks; as the cost of hiring an unsuitable candidate, or receiving a fine for employing an illegal worker, will only add to existing troubles.

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