Staff shortage | UK

Salaries rise in fight for employees

There is a desperate need for catering staff in the UK.
IMAGO / Xinhua
There is a desperate need for catering staff in the UK.

Wages in the UK hospitality sector are rising massively in the struggle to find the few staff in the market. An additional financial burden while prices for food, drink, supplies and utilities are already soaring.

Higher salaries to retain staff are driving up costs across the hospitality industry, where on average one in six jobs remain unfilled. This is the finding of a business confidence survey by UK market analysis agency CGA and Fourth, a software provider for restaurateurs.

Bleak outlook

To attract staff, three-quarters of restaurant business owners have increased wages - by an average of 11 per cent for existing employees and 13 per cent for newly recruited team members - according to the survey. The survey, from the third quarter of 2021, underscores the growing labor crisis in the industry. In it, only 18 percent of respondents expressed confidence about employee acquisition and retention over the next 12 months. In the last survey, three months ago, 67 percent of respondents were still confident.

Three in five respondents recently expect to recruit more staff than usual this year, an increase of 15 percentage points on the last survey, while an average of 6 per cent of staff are currently in isolation. "These figures highlight the full extent of the recruitment and retention crisis in the hospitality sector," said CGA director Karl Chessell. "Thousands of businesses are experiencing acute staff shortages, while many of those with sufficient workers are struggling to retain them. Gaps on the front and back line, as well as rapidly rising wage costs, threaten to derail the industry's recovery and sustained, targeted support from Government is urgently needed to address the problem."

Hospitality sector as economic engine

Sebastien Sepierre, managing director of Fourth, added: "Hospitality is nothing without people and the industry is desperately struggling to find the staff it needs to rebuild after a devastating 18 months. With the right business environment, the hospitality industry has the potential to drive the UK's economic recovery. But the current operating environment is extremely difficult and these results highlight the challenges that HR leaders need to solve."