Real Employment Law Advice

Recruitment and retention: the number one problem for the hospitality industry

It was always anticipated that after Brexit there would be a shortage of people to work in many businesses in the UK, but with the pandemic, travel restrictions and increase in demand, the hospitality sector is really struggling with staffing.

Typically jobs in hotels, restaurants, cafes and pubs are low paid, often seasonal or without guaranteed hours. For years they have relied on workers from the EU coming to the UK to work, and therefore many were already preparing for the reduction in staff, but with the pandemic has come added pressure created by a lack of available staff.

Here on the Isle of Wight I have heard from numerous businesses that cannot get the staff to cover the hours needed, and many are struggling with the increased demand, so much so that some businesses are closing for one or two days per week. The consequence of this is a reduced income at a time when many are trying to recover losses for the last year of lockdowns.

There is of course no magic formula for creating new staff or cloning current ones, but when the pool of staff is low, and competition is high there are some things that you can do to attract good staff and retain them (without getting into a bidding war over salaries).

1. Be Flexible

Just because you have always done it in a particular way does not mean you have to continue. We are in a new age and people want flexibility. I appreciate that you need shifts covered but think creatively about how you might accommodate a great member of staff who may not be able to work to your normal shift patterns.

2. Pay the living wage (as set by the Living wage Foundation)

I appreciate that money is tight but paying the Living Wage, and telling people about it, is one way you can differentiate yourself from you competitors.

Currently outside of London it is £9.50 per hour and in London £10.85.

You can find more information here: https://www.livingwage.org.uk/what-real-living-wage 

3. Give guaranteed hours contracts (ditch the zero hours contracts!)

I know that this fills many of you with dread, but honestly do you really need to use a zero hour contract? If you have the hours available why not give the employee a guarantee of the hours.

It will again set you apart from your competitors, especially if you shout about it and include in your recruitment and other advertising.

Many employees want to know that you are committed to them and that you will provide stability.

If you are worried about the impact, should you need to make changes in the future then get in touch as we can help to reassure you and build your employment contracts to help with this.

4. Offer training and development

This does not have to be complicated or expensive, but you can include the opportunity to learn new skills within the business and to progress.

Again, include this in your offering when recruiting and ensure that you have processes in place so staff can learn.

If you think creatively there are no doubt many different areas in your businesses where you can offer peer to peer training which candidates will appreciate.

5. Be kind

It may seem obvious but is often overlooked by busy business owners and managers. Your reputation as an employer in your local community is vital to ensuring that people want to work for you.

There are always times when someone does not work out or things go wrong, but the way in which you handle it is vital to how people talk about your business. We have all heard the saying that a happy customer will tell a couple of people whereas a dissatisfied customer will tell three or four times that. It is the same with dissatisfied employees.

FYI, it is also important to your customers as well!

Get in touch for more tips and advice on being the best employer

Helping businesses to be the best employer is what I am passionate about, and I can guarantee to help you improve your profile as an employer and attract more candidates. Do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like to help with this.

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Alternatively we offer face to face appointments on the Isle of Wight, in Eastleigh, Salisbury, Southampton, Fareham, Portsmouth, Winchester and surrounding areas in Hampshire.

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The information contained in this blog post is provided for guidance and is a snapshot of the law at the time it is written. It is provided for your information only and should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice that it specific to your particular circumstances.

The guidance should not be relied upon in any decision making process. It is strongly recommended that you seek advice before taking action.


Solicitor in Eastleigh | Solicitor in Salisbury | Solicitor Isle of Wight