Hospitality staff drought spawns cash incentives for recruitment

Staff members wear masks while they work at Loxleys Restaurant & Wine Bar, as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions continue to ease, in Stratford Upon Avon, Britain, May 17, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Boyers

Hospitality is getting creative with recruitment, as the sector faces a staffing crunch. Photo: Reuters/Andrew Boyers

Measures to attract staff to UK hospitality jobs are becoming increasingly desperate, as bosses move to offer bonuses in an attempt to prompt employees recommend staff.

There have also been calls from the industry for a special “coronavirus recovery visa” to incentivise foreign workers to return to service jobs. 

Some have pushed for a visa to mirror initiatives in Australia to plug worker shortages and keep restaurants and hotels open, according to the Sunday Times. 

Immigrant workers have left the country in their droves, as the hospitality industry has been partially shut down for the best part of a year. 

One such business offering incentives is steak chain Hawksmoor. Employees could land up to £2,000 ($ 2,830) if they recruit friends into the chain’s eight restaurants. 

Pub chains Marston’s (MARS.L) and Mitchells & Butlers (MAB.L) have also said they are finding it difficult to recruit, blaming the stop-start nature of UK lockdowns forcing people to leave the sector or return home.

Caravan has also offered a £100 voucher for successful recommendations from customers. 

The incentives act as a replacement for fees companies might pay to recruitment agencies. 

Read more: Restaurant and pub sales soar as UK economy reopens

Meanwhile, the latest stage of reopening the economy has meant bumper sales for the hospitality sector. 

According to research by Dojo, 23% more restaurants were able to reopen on 17 May, compared to a week ago, with spending increasing 40% in comparison to last Monday. Spend was also 12% higher than an average Monday in July last year.

While British pubs reopened on 12 April, albeit only to outdoor beer gardens, they were able to welcome customers back for an indoor pint on Monday.

This meant, 67% more pubs were able to start trading after being shuttered for five months. As a result, pub spend levels quadrupled compared to a typical Monday trading, and was up 30% compared to July 2020, Dojo says.

Britain’s private sector also grew at its fastest pace in over two decades in May as the reopening of the economy drove business confidence to a record high.

IHS Markit/CIPS Flash UK Composite PMI data showed on Friday that its measure of private sector growth hit the highest since the index began in 1998, with hotels, restaurants and other consumer-facing services posting the strongest demand.

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