How hospitality can cope with strikes and staff shortages

Jun 23, 2022
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The leisure and hospitality industry’s recovery post-pandemic is still being blighted by a shortage of staff.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this month, the sector has 83 per cent more vacancies than in the same period of 2019.

The recovery has been further compromised by the ongoing rail strike. A spokesperson for the trade body UK Hospitality said the strikes couldn’t come at a worse time and might deliver a fatal financial blow to those businesses already struggling to survive.

Practical measures to cope with problems

Together, three days of strikes will cost the sector £540 million across the week, based on a 20 per cent drop in sales, where a typical June week sees takings in the UK of £2.75 billion, said the spokesperson.

It is unclear how long the strikes will go on, but the industry could mitigate some of the effects by:

  • Providing transport for staff with taxis or minibuses.
  • Car sharing between employees. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) says if your employee carries another employee in their own car or van on a business journey, you can pay them passenger payments of up to 5p per mile tax-free. You will not have to report this to HMRC.
  • Offering accommodation, if a room is available, while the strikes are on.
  • Making better use of ordering apps for table service to help with staff shortages.
  • Use the latest software to streamline workflow, like stock control, staff lists and staff rotas.
  • Upskilling the team to multitask and take on different roles. Cash incentives will help.
  • Offering longer hours to cover shortfalls and boost wages.

These would be short-term but could be adapted as a longer-term solution to chronic shortages.

The ONS survey shows the sector has created nearly 300,000 new jobs over the last 12 months, equal to one in three of all new jobs.

According to the new figures, hospitality presently has 174,000 vacancies, a record high, in a climate where those out of work and want a job have fallen by about 130,000 over the same period.

For advice on related matters, contact our team today.

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