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Hospitality sector offering more employee benefits

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Over 93,000 EU workers have left the UK’s hospitality sector in the last year, and now the industry is offering better pay and more flexibility to attract more staff.

Paying above the living wage (90%), offering flexible working hours (85%) and flexible shift patterns (83%) are now the top three most commonly offered benefits in the sector, according to recruiter Caterer.com. 


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The findings highlighted how the industry has had to adapt to attract different talent after a steep rise in available jobs since the reopening of the sector post-pandemic.

The loss of EU workers post-Brexit, plus the impact of national lockdowns and the furlough scheme, has meant the sector has seen a shift in the types of people working in it.

In London, a significant number (75%) of EU workers were working in hospitality, but since Brexit, there has been a net loss of 92,800 overseas nationals.

Now, over half (60%) of hospitality employers said they are now getting more applications from UK workers than ever before.

Gavin Smith, director at London-based restaurant chain Pizza Pilgrims, said there has been a downturn in EU applicants over the last year and that he has noticed a shift to recruiting more UK nationals.

He told HR magazine: “We have a wonderful industry that offers the opportunity to build a career and it’s important that we are elevating this message as a collective industry.

“There is a poor perception of the industry with old stories of hard work, long hours and poor working behaviours, alongside the view that the industry is not a career but a steppingstone while people explore what they want to do.”

Kathy Dyball, director at Caterer.com, told HR magazine the hospitality sector will play an important role in tackling unemployment in the UK post-pandemic.

However, half of people in the UK (50%) believe hospitality wages are low and 17% consider hospitality jobs as only temporary before people move into another profession.

Dyball said hiring the right hospitality people, with the right skills and experience, is paramount for the industry as it looks to recover and maintain customer confidence.

She said: "When looking to hire, HR teams need to think carefully about who they’re targeting and, as the industry grapples with a worker shortage, how they might look at a broad range of talent pools.

"In the longer-term there is also work to be done to change perceptions of the industry as its reputation has suffered due to lockdowns, with job uncertainty added to the list of misconceptions such as low pay and lack of flexibility."

Dyball argued recruitment teams will need to ensure employer candidate communication addresses these perceptions, demonstrating the employer’s value proposition in order to attract future talent pipelines and boost retention.

"Ultimately, employers in the industry must support each other and collaborate around industry initiatives, while at the same time take their own steps to ensure they are the best employers they can be.

"There is no one solution to the sector talent challenge, but individual and collective action will make the difference," she said.