OPINION: Tackling staffing challenges within the hospitality sector
In recent years, the number of staff looking for work in the hospitality industry has declined. Where we once had a surplus of staff looking for work, most recently from Europe, we now find ourselves in a much different position as a result of social and economic change.
Economic migrants have started seeking work in other European countries due to the cost of living in London and this has only been made worse by the uncertainties surrounding Brexit. This change is very much beyond our control.
There are however other issues facing our industry which we can control.
The pay rates offered within our industry have always fallen too close to the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage. The hospitality industry, although very rewarding, is also very demanding.
The work is hard and very physical and therefore it is imperative that our staff are paid proportionally for the hard work they carry out.
There are also a number of less physically demanding roles available in organisations such as supermarkets and coffee shops with higher pay rates, which makes these roles more attractive.
Meanwhile, other European countries, such as Italy and Germany, are becoming a more appealing location, because EU migrants can be paid in the same currency, experience better working conditions, enjoy cheaper living costs and receive better job security as a result of their continued membership of the EU.
It is for this reason that Human One have been working hard alongside our Clients to improve rates of pay. We are pleased to report that as such, all our workers are now paid the National Living Wage (no one is paid in line with the minimum wage regardless of their age) and in fact 85 per cent of our workers are paid in excess in of the NLW.
This has had an enormous impact on our ability to find suitable and rewarding work for our staff. Many Clients have also recognised the need to pay staff the higher Agency Worker Regulations rate from day one as opposed to the legislative 12-week delay.
What is important now is that the industry as a whole follow suit to avoid the continuance of bad practice and in turn discontent within the industry.
It is vital that all clients and service providers to the industry establish and maintain better pay rates and working conditions. Staff shortages are only going to increase and so it is vital that those who choose to work within our industry are treated better and paid more.
Employers must recognise that without their staff, their product or service will be non-existent. It is also true that by investing in staff, Clients will see a reduction in staff turnover which will in turn see an increase in their profitability, and productivity due to less time and money spent on training and resourcing.
At Human One, it has been our mission to address persistent dissatisfaction and unrest, and to shine a positive light on our industry once again, an industry that has so much to offer.
Human One now make a conscious effort to only work alongside like-minded business who recognise how important it is to pay their staff appropriately.
It goes without saying that we will not allow any of our staff to work for businesses who do not adhere to AWR, NLW, Working Time legislation etc
To help us achieve this goal, we have established an organisation entitled Leaders of Industry. A non-profit organisation that works with senior management and other decision makers in the sector, in order to raise awareness of the damage that low pay can do to their own sector.
It needs to be made clear that human beings are not dispensable, and they aren’t machines that you can just throw away.
Human One also take further steps to improve staff attraction and retention. To address language or skills gaps, we have in-house trainers. We help staff open bank accounts, offer them recommendations for accommodation applications and help with the necessary administration when finding a job. Most importantly though, we respect them as people and we are working tirelessly to ensure that they are offered the best working conditions possible.
Amber Blount is the managing director at Human One.