Our editor became just a little over-excited on hearing that DoubleTree by Hilton were introducing…
Our industry continues to struggle to fill vacancies. The number of UK vacancies is running at an exceptionally high level, and we’re particularly aware of that across hospitality. Our businesses are more than twice as likely as other industries to be experiencing challenges in filling vacancies compared with normal expectations for this time of year, with seasonal requirements impacting heavily. Labour market data shows hospitality among industries posting record numbers of vacancies. But it’s not all about what happened during the pandemic.
The Office of National Statistics identified that hospitality job vacancies were already at high levels before the UK went into its first lockdown in March 2020. The ONS reported that from April to June 2021 hospitality had the largest ratio of vacancies of any British industry; equal to 188,000 jobs, trade body UKHospitality, calculated. Even before the pandemic the sector had been facing significant issues with many employers in a constant chase for talented employees.
One in five workers left hospitality during the pandemic and the associated implications of Brexit. Lack of job security pushed staff to leave and identify opportunities that would give them something closer to guaranteed employment. One of the effects of furlough is that some decided to take a new path. Priorities and behaviours changed, and employers need to factor this in to the services we are expected to deliver, with careful management of who is going to deliver these services and how. Employers face the immense task of quickly restaffing and reskilling their workforce, drawing from a fragile and fragmented labour market. For some already within the industry, or those looking our way for opportunities, there is a perception that for many there is no clear career progression routes or ‘real’ opportunities. Many consider that it’s not a career for life, but a low paid occupation with lots of workplace stress.
- How can we attract new staff and retain the talented staff we have?
- Identify clear progression routes across all disciplines.
- Development plans – linked to accredited training qualifications.
- Review and implement competitive salary scales. • Contracted hours – paid overtime.
- Working hours to reflect meaningful work-life balance.
- Develop innovative recruitment strategies.
- Virtual events: open days that showcase the industry – using social media to illustrate the potential opportunities.
- Can current staff ‘recommend’ new staff and be given bonuses following their appointment and a time-bound retention?
- Strategy to attract leavers back to the industry.
Wellbeing programmes. Offering support for staff to ensure the potential stress and pressure associated with roles can be managed. How can we move this to a more acceptable level or remove totally – because this should be our key aim.
We must change the negative thoughts that former hospitality staff have. Many felt they were viewed as a number on a spreadsheet. And some of those who thought they were integral to a business were let go with what felt like ease.
Covid and Brexit exposed an issue that has been ‘boiling up’ for years, courtesy of an industry with a reputation for high levels of employee turnover, lack of skilled staff and a poor reputation on hours and pay. And, of course, an industry that had become dependent on EU workers to fill the vacancies. Hospitality relies on these individuals for success, and they believe the industry has failed them. We have guests who expect more, and fewer staff to provide this service. We need to develop a new generation of hospitality professionals, investing in their education and development, whilst also offering these opportunities to staff still part of our teams. There is an opportunity to completely reshape what we do and how we do it. We’ve identified the negatives, now we should move forward and showcase the skill, passion and innovation we also have in abundance. It’s time to radically rethink what we do and how we do it.
The aim must be for an industry that potential employees are scrabbling to get into rather than scrabbling to leave. Employers should support the initiatives of the British Cleaning Council to raise the profile of our industry professionals and make housekeeping a sought-after occupation. Join the ‘We Clean We Care’ campaign.
Go to firstname.lastname@example.org and scan the Q code which will download a prepared letter for you to adapt and sign and send it off to your local MP encouraging the Government to support our aims and objectives.