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One in nine hospitality jobs still vacant despite pay rises

Published:  22 November, 2022

The staffing crisis is very much still underway heading into Christmas, data from CGA has revealed, with one in nine jobs in hospitality still vacant despite improvements in recruitment.

According to the latest Business Confidence Survey by CGA by NielsenIQ and Fourth’s Hospitality Workforce Report, vacancies remain high in the second half of 2022, with recruitment problems, high churn and rising payrolls all intensifying ahead of crucial Christmas trading.

The October Business Confidence Survey, which goes out to leaders of multi-site businesses, showed 11% of roles are currently vacant – a figure which is stands shoulder to shoulder with the last survey three months ago, though down from a peak vacancy rate of 15% at the height of the pandemic.

Staff turnover remains high, too. In September, staff churn rate stood at 8.3%, with one in 12 workers leaving their jobs – the highest figure since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

And all of this despite the fact that average pay has risen 9% over the past 12 months.

The recovery in recruitment since the end of Covid restrictions has meant the sector has increased its headcount – +8.8% in the 12 months to September – suggesting widespread efforts to attract more people to work in pubs, bars and restaurants.

However, these efforts have clearly not been enough to plug a gaping hole in a service-led sector, which is only as strong as its staff.

Sebastien Sepierre, MD of EMEA at Fourth, said: “From a labour standpoint, the hospitality sector is precariously placed as, despite a growing headcount, operators are still struggling to fill roles. Recruitment is just one major issue that is facing sector businesses, with sky-high inflation, the cost-of-doing-business crisis, soaring fuel costs and dented consumer confidence, all factoring into what is an incredibly challenging trading period.”

Now, it is essential that operators focus on retaining existing members of staff and keeping them motivated, Sepierre added.

In the long-term, campaigns like Hospitality Rising remain hugely important, as they help new recruits to see the benefits and rewards that a career in hospitality can offer. Technology can play a pivotal supporting role too, making it easier for businesses to hire, onboard, engage and retain team members, while ensuring they are tackling the staffing challenge as efficiently and productively as possible.

Karl Chessell, CGA’s director for hospitality operators and food, EMEA, added that the rising expense of labour and other factors continue to hit margins hard, on top of a cost-of-living crisis that may squeeze consumers’ spending over Christmas. Whatever happens, it seems that staffing is a challenge which is likely to stretch well into 2023.