Pubs face staffing crisis during May bank holidays

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Tech note: find ways to counter the potential staffing issues May's bank holidays may throw up (credit: Getty/vitapix)
Tech note: find ways to counter the potential staffing issues May's bank holidays may throw up (credit: Getty/vitapix)

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Despite a slight fall in vacancies, the three bank holidays in May will create a staffing crisis for many hospitality operators.

Vacancies in the foodservice and accommodation sector, which includes pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels, were 139,000 from January to March, according to the ONS Vacancy Survey, compared to 140,000 from December to February.

But Conor Shaw, CEO of workforce management specialist Bizimply, warned: “Businesses across the hospitality sector will be hoping this small decrease in vacancies accelerates during the rest of this year and into 2024, creating a better environment for staff recruitment and retention after a long period of labour shortages.”

Struggling to fill shifts

He continued: “In the short term, however, many operators will be struggling to fill shifts over the bank holidays next month. These long weekends, combined with extended trading hours for the King’s coronation, are golden opportunities for our sector, and those businesses who can crack the staffing issue should reap the rewards.

“Ensuring enough experienced staff are available for the peak trading periods, as well as scheduling shifts around team members’ own plans, will be essential to success.”

Automating tasks

Bizimply said automating time-consuming tasks such as creating staff rotas and payroll means operators have more time to spend at the front of house and using such tech can save up to two days per month on rota creation along with more accurate payroll when staff hours are transferred automatically.

Shaw added: “At a time when many employees are working longer hours to cover staff shortages, and good ones can move easily to another job, respecting their work-life balance in this way can go a long way to motivating them and retaining them in your business.”

Tips for bank holiday staffing

Plan for plans to change – ​Team members’ availability is likely to change, often at short notice, if they decide to go away for one of the long weekends, or watch the coronation with family or friends. With three bank holiday weekends to cover, work with team members to ensure that shifts are fairly allocated, and keep an up-to-date log of staff who can fill any gaps that arise

Schedule multi-tasking teams –​ fill your rotas as much as possible with staff who can work across your business so they can be deployed flexibly depending on where you need help and can moved even during a shift if required, if queues form at the bar, for example

Make it fun –​ long, busy hours can still be fun for your staff. Coronations don’t come round often so plan for them to watch the key moments on TV during their shift and think about an after-hours party for all the team to thank them for their efforts.


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