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7 ways to tackle labour shortages

Key takeaways from HRC 2023

By Fourth|Mar 27, 2023|4:36 pm BST

The UK hospitality industry is facing many challenges, such as labour shortages and supply-chain issues. At HRC’s annual three-day event in London, illuminating insights were shared by key industry leaders and players like Marugame, UKHospitality, The Berkely Hotel, and more. Here are the key strategies hospitality leaders need to deploy to optimise operations and positively impact revenue and retention.

1. Offer flexibility to your employees

Offering flexibility to your staff is crucial in retaining your workforce. This is especially true since the wake of the pandemic has changed how we work.

“It’s been hard. Brexit and the pandemic have made it difficult to find the right staff and keep them. I’ve learned that there’s a need to be flexible with your workforce. And if you don’t look after your team members they will go elsewhere,” says Steven Driscoll, Restaurant Operations Manager at The Berkely Hotel.

“Since the pandemic, I’ve never done so many flexible working requests. It’s a two-way street—if you offer the flexibility, in the future when you need them to take a shift, they may be more inclined to help you.”

2. Build a strong employer brand and inclusive culture

Other than offering a competitive salary, employees also want to work for brands that they love. Having a strong employer brand will likely attract and retain top talent.

“Young people want to work for a brand they believe in. The industry is more focused on work-life balance and mental health,” says Paul Loebenberg, Operations Director at Wolfpack.

Moreover, employers who foster an inclusive and collaborative culture also rank the highest.

Olajide Alabi, Brand Equality, Inclusion, and Well-Being at Turtle Bay says: “Focus on your employee value proposition (EVP). An EVP is all about what the brand is offering a new candidate and Gen Z are now asking what DEI policies companies have.”

It was also noted that providing employees with autonomy, growth opportunities, and recognition can have an everlasting impact on workforce retention.

3. Explore different talent-attraction strategies

Other than advertising job vacancies, employers can think outside the box and take a direct approach to attract talent, such as hosting open days at pubs and restaurants. Doing so helps paint a positive picture of having a career in hospitality.

Jeremy Scorer, Licensed Trade Director at HIT Training, says: “You should consider having an open day in pubs/restaurants to be a bit more innovative so that people might consider a profession in hospitality.”

In terms of the hiring process, Nicki Sahota, Head of Talent and Culture at Marugame, stressed the importance of providing a seamless experience for the candidates from the application to the interview stage and onboarding.

“54% of Gen Z won’t complete an application in full. It’s therefore important to make the job application process simple. They also often won’t have a CV but with our process, they don’t need to. We have four questions we ask candidates and use Fourth’s ATS system to streamline the whole process.”

4. Be a strong leader

Although often overlooked, employers who listen to the needs of their employees are more likely to retain top talent and slow down turnover. Developing your soft skills and being able to adapt to changes will go a long way.

“It’s important to be able to adapt to the environment. Since the pandemic, we’ve had to adapt our inductions and training because of the lack of skilled staff,” says Ish Anghota, Director of Talent and Culture at Rosewood.

5. Provide rewards, benefits, and recognition

Providing great rewards and benefits that cater to the needs of your staff can greatly help with retention. Employee assistance programs don’t need to cost a lot, although a fine balance between costs to the business and benefits to the employees is needed.

“Love your team or someone else will,” says Parris Beckford, TurtleBay

6. Create a qualified pool of talent

The methods available to tackle the labour crisis aren’t limited to new technologies alone. Employers should also consider providing training to candidates with potential, which may consist of Gen Z, and help develop them into skilled workers.

“We have put adverts out but had very little back. Our adverts have been seen by thousands but still no response. Basically, the whole business grounds to a halt. So, we changed the strategy. The only people applying were young people looking for a first job. Many of them teenagers struggling to get work,” says Cassie Davison, Bll Ambassador for Licensee of the Gate Hangs Well

7. Increase productivity by using innovative technologies

As Gen Z make up most of the hospitality workforce, catering to their preferred way of accessing information via apps or other digital means is crucial. Have the ability to drop, swap and add shifts right from the palm of their hand in real-time provides the flexibility younger employees are demanding.

“A change we’ve noticed is people want things instantaneously. My staff wants to see their rota instantaneously or their pay slip. Technology helps us look after our staff better,” says Steven Driscoll, Restaurant Operations Manager, at The Berkely Hotel.

But deploying the right technology to solve the most critical challenges to your business is integral to increasing profit. Otherwise, it’s not worth it.

JP Then, CEO and Co-founder of Crosstown Doughnuts, says: “When taking on new tech, you’ve to think about what problem you’re hoping to change.”

“We’re an industry that operates on very thin margins. Finding a tech solution that contributes to your top line, your margin, or your bottom line is important, otherwise, it’s not worth it.”

What lies ahead for the hospitality industry in the UK?

The start of 2023 has been a challenging time for hospitality, yet positive signs for recovery and growth seem to be appearing.

But while the pressures related to labour shortages might be starting to ease, it is apparent that workforce-related challenges are continuing to keep managers awake at night. Retaining existing staff and keeping them motivated is still a major struggle.

“Technology plays a pivotal role here, helping businesses accurately forecast demand, enabling them to optimise their workforce planning so they are best placed to combat the issues present during this challenging period. This makes it easier for businesses to hire, onboard, engage, and retain team members, helping them to operate as effectively and efficiently as possible,” says Sebastien Sepierre, managing director – EMEA, Fourth.

Learn how Fourth’s intelligent Workforce Management solution can help you conquer the complexity of your day by simplifying and streamlining your operations.

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