One in six (16%) hospitality jobs currently lie vacant, the latest Business Confidence Survey from CGA and Fourth indicates, triggering intense competition among firms to recruit and retain team members.
The third-quarter poll highlighted 96% of business leaders envisaging shortages in either front or back of house roles, and 73% in both. Fewer than one in five (18%) leaders felt confident about their recruitment and retention over the next 12 months – a dramatic collapse from the 67% who felt confident in the last survey just three months ago.
Three in five (59%) leaders anticipated hiring staff at a greater rate than usual this year, up by 15 percentage points from the last survey. Labour has been further hit by absences, with leaders reporting that an average of 6% of staff were in isolation and unable to work.
Shortages have been rapidly inflating wage bills across the hospitality sector, which already faces mounting food, drink, supply and utility costs. Three quarters said they had offered better pay (76%), with those who have done so reporting an average of an 11% increase for existing staff, and by 13% for newly hired team members.
Karl Chessell, CGA's director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: "These figures illustrate the full scale of hospitality's recruitment and retention crisis. Thousands of businesses are now critically short of staff, while many of those who have sufficient labour face a fight to keep hold of it. Gaps at front and back of house and fast-rising wage costs threaten to derail the industry's recovery, and sustained, targeted government support is now urgently needed to tackle the problem."
Sebastien Sepierre, managing director – EMEA, Fourth, said: "Hospitality is nothing without people and the sector is in a desperate battle to find the staff it needs to rebuild after a devastating 18 months. With the right business landscape, hospitality has the potential to drive the UK's economic recovery. But the current operational environment is extremely tough and these results lay bare the workforce challenges senior leaders must solve, especially in light of the key festive trading period on the horizon."