Lightspeed’s new Global State of Hospitality Report showed the UK had high staff retention levels compared to other European countries.
Some 43% of UK businesses said they were operating with less staff than needed, an issue that 48% globally are using technology to offset.
Yet, the country is least likely to reduce opening hours due to staff shortages.
Despite this, most businesses (69%) raised their menu prices in 2022, and 71% said menu pricing had become more difficult to manage. 63% changed their menu offering and 45% used lower-cost ingredients to improve finances.
Factors including Brexit, Covid and the cost-of-living crisis have shouldered the blame for staffing issues – from hiring to retention – in the UK’s hospitality sector.
Lightspeed Hospitality general manager Peter Dougherty said: “There can be no doubt that the UK’s world-renowned hospitality sector has suffered due to a number of factors beyond its control. However, it is in no worse of a position – arguably much better – than other countries.
“This news offers little in the way of solace to the sector; the data does, after all, show fairly high levels of staffing struggles. But it is interesting nonetheless that even accounting for a factor unique to the country – Brexit – these struggles are comparable to other countries.”
But while all economies were suffering, the report showed staffing in the UK to be in better shape than many had expected.
UK restaurants have considerably less of an issue with staff retention than the USA or Australia. Just 34% of UK businesses report they have ‘struggled to retain staff’, compared with half (50%) in the US, and 42% in Australia.
The picture is much the same in Europe, where the UK is marginally ahead of its EU neighbours, Germany and the Netherlands, with only France reporting higher staff retention figures.
Of the basket of countries analysed by Lightspeed, UK hospitality businesses reported the second highest ability to maintain staffing levels (30%) behind only Germany (31%). The USA had the most issues with maintaining staff levels (18%).
Dougherty continued: “It is clear that while staffing is comparable to other major economies, rising costs in the UK are far more acute, and efficiencies will need to be made.
“Lightspeed will therefore continue to provide innovative, omnichannel solutions that will help our merchants streamline their operations and provide even greater experiences for their customers”
Weathering the recruitment crisis
The biggest staffing issue for UK hospitality firms was in regard to staffing numbers, with 43% reporting they are operating with fewer staff than needed – exactly average among all countries surveyed.
In Germany, 54% of businesses don’t have enough staff, while the figure in the Netherlands is 33%.
German hospitality businesses have the highest staff shortages but were also the least likely to have increased wages to improve hiring and retention. Indeed, German businesses were the most likely to have reduced their opening hours in response to the recruitment crisis.
UK hospitality firms’ likelihood to have increased wages is comparable to every nation except the USA and the Netherlands. However, UK businesses were most unlikely – by considerable margin – to have reduced hours in response to staffing shortages.
Lightspeed research also revealed that technology has become one of the primary ways in which businesses are combatting staffing issues.
Almost half (48%) of hospitality merchants globally are choosing to expand or start their online ordering business to offset their current staff shortages. More generally, 57% of UK restaurateurs agreed that the technology adoption was critical to the survival of their business over the last two years.