Staffing number near pre-pandemic levels

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Fourth Hospitality Workforce Report: data shows staffing numbers near pre-pandemic levels but sector still struggling  (Credit: Getty/Hispanolistic)
Fourth Hospitality Workforce Report: data shows staffing numbers near pre-pandemic levels but sector still struggling (Credit: Getty/Hispanolistic)

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Hospitality staffing numbers have neared pre-pandemic levels with employee headcount in pubs, bars, hotels, restaurants, and quick service restaurants (QSRs) up 21.7% compared to June 2021, the latest data from Fourth has revealed.

The data also showed, however, factors such as increasing rates of pay, high staff turnover, and the changing make-up of the workforce, were piling pressure on employers.

Fourth managing director EMEA Sebastien Sepierre said: “The latest data in the Fourth Hospitality Workforce Report​ reveals genuinely encouraging signs.

“With businesses finally able to enjoy a prolonged period of uninterrupted trading, we are seeing consumers return to venues in strong numbers.

“This in turn has led to continued growth in sales, staff headcounts, and the collective hours worked. However, the industry is continuing to contend with post-pandemic challenges, such as supply chain disruption, the cost-of-living crisis, rising inflation, and labour shortages.”

According to Fourth, which provides inventory and workforce management solutions, more people have been working in the sector recently than at any time in the past two years, despite hospitality having experienced a high turnover, with 5.7% of the entire workforce having left in June 2022.

Retaining talent 

Furthermore, the report, based on information from more than 700 companies across the sector, also revealed the industry has had to replace 6% of its labour force every month, with pubs having seen the highest leaving rate of 7.1% in June.

Up by just 1.9% in June, the rate of staff growth in pubs contrasted with hotels (27.3%), QSR (25.8%) and restaurants (25.7%), though pubs initially bounced back faster than other types of venues when restrictions were lifted following the pandemic.

Additionally, the sector has seen an increase in wages of 8.5% for pub workers and 6% for restaurant employees, in particular younger employees, with back-of-house workers in pubs and restaurants now paid more than £10 per hour.

Collective hours worked has also continued to show healthy signs of growth with hours worked across the sector in June 2022 up 17.3% versus June 2021 and 449.2% against June 2020, when hospitality was largely closed in the UK, according to the report.

Sepierre added: “Staff are in a position to demand higher wages from operators, which places even more emphasis on recruiting intelligently and the importance of retaining talent.

“Due to long-term perceptions about unsociable working hours and conditions, the incredible career opportunities hospitality presents are not always obvious to newcomers or to those outside the trade. This perception needs to be addressed by the industry collectively.”

Harnessing technology 

Fourth’s research also showed how the make-up of the hospitality workforce has evolved post-pandemic, with EU workers now accounting for 26.3% of staff, compared to 43.2% in January 2019 and 35.9% in July last year.

There has been significant growth in the percentage of British and Non-EU staff, with Non-EU workers now accounting for 17.9% of the entire hospitality workforce (up from 11% in January 2019).

Furthermore, British representation has increased from 45.8% to 55.8% in the same period.

However, the data also showed signs of a slowdown in the growth of British workers in hospitality, with an increase of just 0.7 percentage points since January 2022.

Sepierre said: “There is a job to do here in communication but also in harnessing technology to drive processes and help operators hire, onboard, engage and retain team members.

“Businesses will ultimately have to be smart with their labour scheduling strategies to ensure consumer demand continues to be met and the guest experience doesn’t suffer.”

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