Business Insights: Hospitality businesses polish up their workplace appeal

The labour squeeze is affecting most within the hospitality industry and pay rises are just one of the responses many businesses are adopting to attract and retain great talent. Many are coming up with imaginative and thought filled ways to widen their appeal to employment candidates.

In an interesting survey conducted by Barclays Corporate which polled 605 businesses during April, and report written by Mike Saul, Head of Hospitality and Leisure,Barclays Corporate reveals that the businesses surveyed recognised the need to demonstrate that they can offer dynamic careers, with attractive benefits and potential for progression, if they are to recruit and retain the right people.

According to the report, “Brewery and pub chain Fuller’s, which already offered private healthcare to its managers and head chefs, has extended the benefit to all staff with a year’s service. Some restaurants, hotels and pubs are even reported to have been offering staff support with housing, or interest-free loans to enable them to pay off debts.

Hiking up wages to draw in staff is a strategy adopted by one-third (33%) of the restaurants in our survey, with gyms and leisure centres (26%) and holiday parks (25%) also more likely than average to do so. Overall, however, other methods of recruitment and retention are more common.

The report explains that “At a minimum, providers need to recognise and mitigate the pressures that vacancies cause for existing staff. The Social enterprise The Burnt Chef Project has seen big demand for its mental health support services for hospitality employers and for individual employees experiencing the effects of antisocial hours, tough working environments and pressures to perform.

Just over one-fifth of the employers in our survey (22%) have recently invested more in employee welfare. After pay, flexibility is the most important factor for potential recruits to the hospitality industry, according to recent research.

Employers are harnessing technology and imaginative thinking in response. For example, Young’s Brewery has set up its own internal recruitment agency, enabling employees to choose their own working hours across any of its 200-plus pubs, Rick Stein’s restaurant operation now permits team members to work as little as one shift per week.

A significant 23% of employers have opted to offer staff a better work-life balance by embracing flexible working as a permanent feature: pubs (33%) and holiday parks (31%) are most likely to have taken this approach. Similarly, 37% of cafes and holiday parks, and 28% of nightclubs and bars, have improved rostering to offer better hours for staff.

While proposals to protect workers’ tips in the recent Queen’s Speech didn’t materialise, many businesses have already moved to implement changes. In fact the approach to tips is being transformed across the industry, with many following the example of restaurants such as Dishoom in adding a service charge to their bills as standard. Just over a quarter of caravan parks (26%), one in five gyms and restaurants (20%), and 18% of hotels and pubs have changed their tipping systems so that staff receive more.”

Wage increases are not a possible recruitment and retention model for many businesses and so being unique and providing support, incentive and career progression prospects for staff could be just as valuable a method to attract and most importantly retain great talent.