Staffing issues continue to set back hospitality's recovery from Covid-19, according to CGA and Fourth's Business Leaders' Survey.
The poll of sector leaders showed intense competition for team members. Three in five (59%) said they will recruit at a greater rate than usual this year, a jump of 13 percentage points since the last confidence survey in December.
However, nearly one in 10 (9%) roles remained vacant and open for applications – though this marked a drop from the figure of 14% in late 2021. Only half (52%) of leaders said they felt confident about their recruitment and retention in the next 12 months.
Staff shortages have led business leaders to sharpen their HR strategies in a variety of ways. Nearly four in five (77%) said they have offered better pay to try to retain staff, increasing their levels by an average of 11%. High numbers were meanwhile stepping up levels of communication with staff (85%), creating more learning opportunities (82%) and focusing on staff wellbeing and mental health (72%).
The survey also highlighted the impact of increases in the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage from April. Two thirds (67%) of leaders say this was a key challenge in 2022.
Sebastien Sepierre, managing director – EMEA, Fourth, said: "Recruitment continues to be a major challenge for the sector as it builds back after an extremely challenging two-year period. When it comes to labour, it's more important than ever that sector businesses are continuing to plan ahead, helping them to accurately manage demand and ensure they have the optimum number of staff across each and every shift. Technology can play a key role in helping businesses do this, and also ensures they can hire, train, engage and retain workers, providing smart solutions to manage consumer demand accurately in these testing times."
Phil Tate, CGA Group chief executive, said: "Our survey highlights the level of concern that the scramble for staff is causing across hospitality. While there are some signs of improvement in the first quarter of 2022, major shortages and severe upward pressure on pay are likely to continue throughout the year. On top of other rising costs, supply issues, the end of VAT relief and fragile consumer confidence, it is yet another challenge to the recovery of the sector, which needs and deserves sustained support from government."