A lot has been written about the impact of Brexit on staffing in the hospitality industry. And that its impact was exacerbated by furlough and hidden by Covid.
While this is undoubtedly true, there are other factors that can help to explain the current shortage but haven’t received as much attention.
Almost every corporate employer has spent the last 12 months thinking about how to integrate flexible working arrangements into their business. For some, that means embracing remote working; for others, it means allowing employees to determine their own hours. Whatever the strategy, the conversation seems to have been confined to the corporate world.
Ironically, lockdowns have given people in sectors like hospitality a new found sense of freedom – and I think that is responsible for some of what we are seeing now. Throughout the three lockdowns, furloughed employees were no longer having to work unsocial hours day after day. Prior to COVID, many in the industry would work both Friday and Saturday nights as standard, as well as Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. Despite all the hardships of the pandemic, hospitality workers were happy to find themselves unencumbered by their work schedules for the first time.
However, the flexible lifestyle that is increasingly available to workers in other industries will never be an option for those in hospitality. Restaurants, pubs, and bars are busy at the times that people want to eat and drink, which on a typical day means busy periods at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Given that most of the population is still working from home and there are few tourists, the demand on the weekends is disproportionately high – placing more pressure on those periods. As a result, workers are forced to give up even more of their weekends to serve customers.
On top of that, customers have returned to venues with high expectations. Unaware of the current staffing challenges across the industry, guests still expect excellent customer service and a personalised experience. The result is even more pressure on the teams, making their jobs stressful as well as inflexible. Friday and Saturday nights are the epitome of this.
The change in the industry was also accelerated by the rise in demand for the services of Amazon, Deliveroo, and Uber Eats. Over the course of the pandemic, each of these businesses expanded their workforce significantly to keep up with the increased demand – and we’re not seeing that trend slowing anytime soon. Although there are many issues with the way these platforms treat their workers, they do offer a level of flexibility unmatched by other industries. And for those that want it, there are plenty of these kinds of jobs available.
Where the hospitality industry cannot offer the flexibility that so many other industries now can, we must start looking at other ways to make the employee experience great. At a minimum, that means making work more enjoyable and less stressful – surely two things that any good employer wants to do for their team?
Improving the experience for the core team is something that Stint is well placed to do. Stint students take care of the basic tasks at busy periods, leaving the core team to focus on what they do best – creating an excellent customer experience. Freed up from polishing cutlery, clearing tables, and packing take-aways, busy periods become far less stressful for everyone.
“‘Just when you’re about to lose it, the Stint appears and helps for that mad rush. Perfect to manage those crazy moments!” – MD at Cocotte.
“The students get to come in and work around their schedules, and our staff get an extra helping hand – they don’t have to do tasks they don’t enjoy doing or don’t have enough time to do like cleaning pots and pans.” – Head Chef at Bala Baya.