A third of people who have left the hospitality industry during the pandemic are planning to return at some stage, a poll has suggested.
The sector is currently facing a recruitment crisis, with businesses struggling to fill vacancies for front- and back-of-house positions.
Data from Broadbean Technology shows the hospitality sector experienced a 78% decline in the number of applications per vacancy during the first six months of the year. Only logistics and retail suffered a similar fall in the same period.
But the results from a survey carried out by The Burnt Chef Project offer hope that a strong proportion of former hospitality workers intend to come back to the industry.
The survey, which was launched in June and rolled out via Peopleful and Umbrella Insights, found that nearly a third of those not currently working within the sector are planning to return within the year, with 10% in the next six months.
Work-life balance is the most frequently mentioned barrier to working in the sector and most commonly cited reason for leaving.
When asked what changes would improve recruitment and retention in hospitality, the majority said, ”feeling valued’. Unsociable and unpredictable hours – which are inherent in the trade – were a barrier to one in five, while salary and stressful working environments were also frequently cited barriers (one third). Only 4% of those asked highlighted job security as a concern.
Benjamin Souza-Morse, owner of The Salutation Inn and an ambassador of The Burnt Chef Project, said: “Things have to change to ensure the survival of the industry. Sadly it’s all too often seen as normal practice to work 80 hours a week with no respite.
“It’s not feasible for people to work all hours under the sun and still perform to the best of their abilities, we wouldn’t expect other industries to work two weeks in one. I am constantly adapting my business to try and meet its commercial needs but more importantly the needs of our team, we look closely at: maximum hours, consecutive days off, weekends off, competitive pay rates, free staff food, staff trips.
“These are just some of the things which attract and retain staff and we will be working closely with The Burnt Chef Project to ensure that we are an employer of choice, who focus on the mental health and well-being of our staff. If businesses recognised the needs of their team, the whole sector could produce a better balanced, desirable profession to work in.”
Not surprisingly, 40% of respondents have struggled with their mental health over the past 12 months, with around one in six reporting it has been ‘not good’.
General managers are seemingly those finding the pressures impacting their mental health the most with 42% reporting a decline in the overall level of mental wellbeing since reopening.
However, 60% of individuals report feeling ‘okay’ or ‘better’ about working in the industry, showing there is a large proportion of the workforce keen to stay.
Kris Hall, founder of The Burnt Chef Project, said: “We’re seeing it all over the media, and we’re hearing it first-hand in the trade. The industry is facing a severe employment crisis right now, but what our survey has shown is that there is a way out of this.
“Hospitality 2.0 if you like, whereby we support our employees and give them a sustainable career choice. There are achievable, mid-term solutions which can be implemented within the workplace to put the industry on the path to success. Training for managers to understand effective communication, performance reviews to encourage and inspire, and mental health awareness training to understand stress and its impact on team members.
“Yes, we’re facing a challenge, but we’re also faced with a huge opportunity to make a better environment within the industry. The impact of Covid-19 has been detrimental to the industry, but now is the time to knuckle down and invest in the business and primarily the people who are working in it. We are already working on innovative tools, resources and support services to aid businesses in tackling some of the issues raised from our data.”