Sharp rise in hospitality businesses struggling to find staff

The hospitality sector is facing a staffing crisis, with nearly three quarters of hospitality employers struggling to recruit staff.

That’s the finding from the latest survey by The Caterer, carried out in partnership with temporary staffing specialist Lola Staffing.

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The survey, conducted in August 2016 showed a sharp 12 percentage point rise in the number of employers who said it was “very difficult” to recruit hospitality staff at their company (29% of employers chose this option up from 17% in the previous quarter).

There was also a large jump in those employers who said it was “somewhat difficult” to find hospitality staff, up from 36% in the last quarter to nearly 43% this quarter.

That meant that overall, nearly three quarters of employers found it difficult to recruit staff, compared to 53% last quarter.

Commenting on the findings, Lola Staffing managing director Duncan Mitchell said: “The hospitality industry is in crisis. The sector has become considerably less attractive to workers. It is not that we cannot recruit the staff. At Lola we have between 30-40,000 new applicants for work each year. Sadly, we are now finding that more than 80% of these applicants very quickly deem the work ‘unattractive’ and move on.”

Mitchell’s comments about the attractiveness of hospitality to workers were borne out by other findings in the survey. Only 27% of hospitality staff who answered the survey said they would like to work in hospitality full time – a drop of 36 percentage points on the last quarter.

Agency workers identified pay as the most important factor when working for hospitality clients but just over 63% did not consider that hospitality staff were paid fairly for their work – this despite the fact that 50% of employers thought that they paid wages above the average.

“People do not want to work for minimum wage, short hours, and in some cases environments where they are poorly treated,” said Mitchell. “Many high-street retailers pay their basic workers as much as £9.50-£10 per hour plus a host of other benefits. These are the types of businesses with whom the hospitality employers are competing for workers these days.”

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