The latest Business Confidence Survey from CGA and Fourth revealed half (51%) of respondents are anticipating shortages across all roles with a further 39% worried about back of house roles.
Some 51% also stated they found the reduced recruitment pool was a bigger issues than they anticipated since restrictions started to lift.
The majority (88%) are expecting to hire staff this year and 44% of them said to a greater extent than expected with only 4% confident they won’t need new workers.
While two thirds (67%) were confident about their ability to recruit, retain and train employees, there is the potential for intense competition in the labour market in the next few months, putting more pressure on firms to keep team members.
Respondents in the survey were also worried about a fall in staff productivity with almost half (47%) putting improving employee productivity at the fore this year. Just 4% were unconcerned about the issue.
Recruitment and retention concerns
However, business optimism was high among respondents as ahead of full reopening, 79% of leaders were optimistic about the prospects of the eating and drinking out market – the highest level for more than six years.
CGA director for hospitality operators and food EMEA Karl Chessell said: “It’s already apparent recruitment and retention are going to be huge concerns for hospitality over the remainder of 2021.
“Post-Brexit shortages had been expected for some time but Covid-19 has multiplied the difficulties and many businesses are already facing a staffing crisis at the worst possible time.”
Fourth managing director EMEA Sebastien Sepierre stated the survey painted a stark picture of the staffing crisis facing the trade.
Shrinking pool of workers
He added: “We know from our data the number of EU workers in the UK hospitality workforce fell by 4% when comparing the first quarter of 2021 with 2019.
“This, coupled with a 12% reduction in new starters from EU countries over the same period, has exacerbated the impact of the pandemic on the workforce, generating the most challenging recruitment market in recent memory.
“In the face of a shrinking pool of workers and increasing consumer demand, improving employee productivity has clearly become a major focus for operators.
“This is a complex task that not only involves smart-scheduling, but crucially, motivating and engaging the existing workforce in the face of ever-increasing pressure.
“We’ll be working hand-in-hand with hospitality businesses, to help them harness the power of technology to tackle the myriad of workforce challenges as we negotiate this crucial trading period.”