A Perfect Storm: How the UK Hospitality Sector Could End Up Struggling to Find Quality Staff in the Wake of Brexit and the Pandemic

It’s been a year of change for many sectors in the UK, and perhaps the most significant shifts we have seen are within the hospitality sector. 

The pandemic has caused a ‘reset’ on the food and beverage industry, taking things to levels we have never seen before. We’ve experienced almost a year where the doors have been mainly closed on dine-in restaurants. The way people eat both in and outside the home has changed significantly, which is likely to have a long-lasting impact on hospitality across the country. 

Add to this the fact that Brexit occurred during the pandemic, which also has severe repercussions for the hospitality industry, and we find ourselves in dangerous territory. 

These two major events have created a perfect storm regarding finding the right talent for your hospitality business – today, we discuss how hospitality employers can now approach hiring. 

 

Challenges for Post-Pandemic Re-Opening  

As the pandemic unfurled, hotels, restaurants and pubs in the UK furloughed 80% of their staff, as the hospitality sector became one of the worst-hit industries. Continually changing lockdown restrictions meant that it was an increasing challenge for business owners to plan effectively in terms of operations, staffing, opening times and menus. 

After the last UK-wide lockdown was announced at the end of 2020, most hospitality business owners decided that the only way to plan for the future was to wait until local restrictions were more clear-cut. And for many, this has meant waiting until now; with the vaccine programme underway, the vast majority of food and beverage organisations can realistically plan for opening this summer. 

But what has happened to the teams that were in place last year? As I mentioned, many have been furloughed; sadly, some have been made redundantothers have moved to a different role or sector entirely.  

Hospitality businesses right now face perhaps the most challenging situation they have ever encountered. They need to open successfully this year, but they have lost the infrastructure of the team they once had. 

Hospitality business owners have not historically struggled to find willing recruits, although finding the highest-quality of talent has often been tough. Many are finding that the number of applicants is also dwindling – let me share how Brexit has made the situation even more difficult. 

  

The Brexit Effect on the Hospitality Industry  

recent Financial Times article revealed that since the start of the pandemic, 1.3 million foreign-born workers had left the UK. Of this number, around 158,000 were in the accommodation and food service sector, with a further 217,00 in the wider retail space.  

This is a significant portion of individuals who have been wiped from the talent pool. Pre-pandemic and Brexit, many of these individuals would have been working in and applying for hospitality vacancies across the UK.  

Brexit was not the sole reason for this mass exodus – as I mentioned, it was a combination of the new working rules and the pandemic.  

It was understandable and unavoidable that the sector shut down in this way, but what impact will this reduction of workers have – how can hospitality businesses find the staff they need as they prepare to re-open? 

 

Finding the Hospitality Staff You Need for a Post-Pandemic World 

After such a long time living under strict restrictions, it is with excitement, anticipation and a renewed optimism that the hospitality sector is preparing for a summer of celebration.  

The controversial ‘substantial meal’ rule has been scrapped for the re-opening, and business owners are looking forward to a record-breaking summer. Peak District hospitality investor Alistair Myers said, “We are ready to be booming” 

In holiday hot spots across the country, bookings are already filling up in places such as the South Coast and the Lake District. As foreign travel will still likely be off-limits, millions of UK holidaymakers will be looking to make the most of a staycation. 

So, are you ready for one of your biggest summers ever? 

If your team have now been dispersed, it is a high probability that you will be welcoming back a new set of employees this year. Do you have some returning members? For many hospitality businesses, opening means starting a team almost from scratch – and this is where we can help. 

We understand that right now is perhaps the most crucial time in your hospitality business’s history. When you open your doors this year, you need to ensure that you have the best possible team in place; people will be expecting excellence.  

Not all hospitality businesses have made it through the pandemic, so when you open up again, you need to prove your worth to your customers – that you are the type of establishment that they can return to again and again in a post-pandemic world. 

For this, it is a necessity that you have only the highest-quality staff within your team – anything less, and you could put yourself at risk of failure during what will be your most business-critical time.  

Are you preparing to re-open this year and need to find the right talent to look after your business? We can help – contact us today to find out more about our expert hospitality recruitment services. Call us on 0121 314 9365 or contact us here 

 

Thanks, 

Dawn 

 

About KSB Recruitment 

We are expert recruiters in the catering and hospitality industry with over 30 years in business, placing the best candidates in their perfect roles with  obsessive attention to detail.  

KSB is proud to be a Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) member, accredited investors in people, and both Data Protection and Home Office Compliance registered. 

We specialise in roles in Birmingham, Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Worcestershire and Northamptonshire. 

Who is Dawn Bannister

Dawn has over 30 years recruitment experience recruiting for the likes of Sainsbury’s plc, Holiday Inn, Barclaycard, ISS, Royal Mail, West Midlands Police and the NEC – to name a few. She also oversaw the company’s Investors in People accreditation in 1999 – (and held ever since) and has recently been selected to attend the prestigious programme run by Aston University’s Business Growth Programme.

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