Three Quarters of Hospitality Businesses Plan Recruitment Drive As Operators Look To Bounce Back

As hospitality businesses prepare for the easing of lockdown, insight from CGA’s Business Leaders Survey reveals that three quarters of business leaders will be looking to recruit new staff members and grow their teams in 2021.

The survey, which was sponsored by Fourth and pooled responses from 726 operators across the restaurant, bar and casual dining industries, revealed that just under half (44%) will be recruiting to the same, or a greater extent, than in previous years. Furthermore, they predict that their workforces will return to 79% of their previous scale by July 2021, and 90% by December 2021.

These figures will no doubt be buoyed by the Budget, announced last week by the Chancellor, which brought some positive news for the industry in the form of an extension to the VAT cut, business rates relief, a freeze on beer, spirits and wine duty for another year, and the extension of the furlough scheme to September.

The need for a recruitment drive is clearly evidenced by Fourth’s own data, aggregated from the analysis of over 700 companies across the restaurant, pub, bar and QSR sectors, which revealed that the hospitality workforce shrunk by 28% over the course of 2020.

As businesses embark to rapidly re-grow across their teams, maintaining engagement and reinforcing a positive culture will be a key challenge, with 71% of business leaders stating employee engagement will be a key focus, while a further 29% listed it as a moderate focus.

As operators look to drive efficiencies, the Business Leaders Survey also revealed that one in three business leaders stated that the use of technology will be fundamental in helping operations, with a further 39% suggesting it will be important. The challenge most leaders predict turning to technology for is managing the cost of labour (49%), which will be partly driven by the uncertainty within the market, as 71% expect fragile consumer confidence to negatively impact business.

Sebastien Sepierre, Managing Director – EMEA, Fourth, said: “There is cautious optimism returning to the industry, thanks to a clear timeline for reopening the industry and a new round of support measures announced in the Budget. This shot in the arm will act as the starting gun for many businesses, as they seek to drive employment and establish systems ahead of reopening. Make no mistake, this is still a precarious time for operators, with fluctuating consumer demand and fierce competition all contributing to an uncertain and fast-changing operating climate.

“In the face of these immense pressures, we have started to see more operators turn to technology to adopt a flexible approach to scheduling and driving efficiencies. What’s more, one key takeout from lockdown was the prevalence and importance of digital platforms in maintaining engagement and culture across businesses. In fact, data from our own platform revealed that engagement platform usage during November’s lockdown was the same as pre-Covid levels, despite 60% of the workforce being on furlough. The widespread adoption of technology, from both consumers and team members, truly marks a step change in the digital acceleration of the hospitality industry, and we anticipate businesses deploying it to drive all aspects of their business.”

Fourth has compiled an in-depth whitepaper looking at the impact on the government enforced lockdowns on food waste and the workforce over the past 12 months. It can be viewed here

To download the results from the latest Business Leaders Survey, please see here

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