Tackling the Hospitality Recruitment Crisis: A Workforce Manifesto

Author: Giles Fuchs, owner of the Burgh Island Hotel

Even as the peak hospitality season begins, leading to dwindling availability and soaring prices, vacationers remain hopeful of embarking on their “revenge trip” experiences to make up for lost time caused by the pandemic. However, with the sector currently operating with a vacancy rate of 10%, some companies are having to reduce their activities, jeopardizing the plans of travelers.

According to the recent workforce strategy published by UKHospitality, there is a jobs gap of 170,000 in the sector. These staff shortages suppress economic activity in the industry by around £22billion. To capture these revenue losses and continue to provide all customers with access to exciting experiences, the industry must address them over the long term by investing in employee skills and educating them about the true possibilities of a career in the industry. hospitality throughout life.

Invest time and resources in employees

In any industry, an essential part of employee retention is ensuring that employees feel valued. It is therefore essential that employers invest time and money in upskilling and professional development opportunities. According to a LinkedIn Workforce Learning Report, 93% of employees said they would stay with a company longer if it invested in their career progression.

Yet in an industry with high turnover, employers must first convince workers that their long-term future lies in hospitality. With over 85% of employees saying professional training is important to them, it’s a simple way to encourage employees to embark on a longer-term career with a hospitality business. Indeed, about 40% of poorly trained employees will leave their job during the first year.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities should be made available to hospitality workers to enable them to learn, grow and develop skills in particular areas

that interest them. For example, at Burgh, we train staff in sustainability practices, teaching them in-demand skills to serve them in the increasingly eco-friendly travel market. Such opportunities can show workers that they are much more than a stopgap to plug the leak in the pipeline of hospitality workers and encourage them to continue their development within the industry.

Succession planning

Identifying a company’s future leaders and helping them achieve leadership positions is important for both staff retention and recruitment – ​​that’s the idea behind succession planning.

Communicating career paths to current and potential employees can help them see the big picture. This means a mapped career path that includes opportunities for promotion, increasing the likelihood that they will stay with an employer long term.

These visible opportunities for progression also encourage employee engagement and can help foster a positive company culture, increasing the chances that they will remain a valued member of the team.

A centralized skills repository for the hotel industry

The formation of a centralized skills framework could help guide UK hospitality businesses and ensure thorough training and clear progression paths across the industry.

First, a framework would emphasize that roles in hospitality require broad skills and specific training. It would also outline essential skills for high performance and enable individuals to strive for promotions and career progression.

Second, a competency framework could establish nationally recognized qualifications, which would help to dispel the belief among young professionals that a career in hospitality is just a “summer job”, and thus attract more talent remaining in the industry.

Finally, the creation of dedicated education and training institutions would help reflect the status of hospitality jobs as highly skilled roles. This is already in practice in the rest of Europe, where hospitality has a reputation that truly reflects the hard work and dedication it requires – for example, at the ESO Euroschool Hotel Academy, where our Relationship Manager with customers has been trained.

Attracting alternative talent

Establishing a framework will take time, but we cannot ignore the pressing need for new talent. It’s no secret that the cost of living crisis, coupled with a shortage of staff, is weighing heavily on the hospitality industry and stifling its post-pandemic growth.

A new study from Barclays Hospitality’s Next Challenge report reveals that 94% of hospitality and leisure businesses are currently struggling to recruit staff. Interestingly, it also reveals that many companies in the sector plan to offer employment to Ukrainian refugees to meet their staffing needs, with particularly high support in the east of England, where 87% plan to hire Ukrainian talent.

At Burgh Island, we employed four Ukrainian refugees, providing them with stable employment and income, while helping to fill vacancies as we quickly approach the busiest time of the year.

If we are to successfully solve the recruitment crisis in the sector in the long term, we must ensure that careers in this industry are valued and taken seriously. A centralized skills framework, CPD opportunities and succession planning will be key to achieving this.

Offering jobs to alternative talent is a great way to support those who are struggling and immediately reduce the effects of staff shortages. However, the same issues remain – without adequate CPD opportunities, succession planning, and a centralized skills framework, top talent will continue to come and go.

Michael A. Bynum