Hospitality looks to attract staff with bonuses and vouchers

Restaurants are having to be creative to recruit enough staff
Photo: Shutterstock

News of staff shortages in the UK’s hospitality sector is emerging as one company has begun offering substantial bonuses to workers who recommend friends for jobs.

Restaurant group Hawksmoor, with steak houses in Manchester, Edinburgh, London and New York, is offering bonuses of up to £2,000 to workers who recommend friends for jobs in a bid to fill staffing shortages. Its co-founder Will Beckett told the BBC there weren’t enough people to fill roles in hospitality in the UK and that his firm needed to “turbo-charge” its recruitment efforts.

The bonuses are payable after the new recruits had passed a one-month trial. Hawksmoor staff will receive £200 for a first friend, £300 for the next and up to £2,000 for five.

As indoor dining resumed in the UK last week the sector is seen to be on the edge of a jobs crisis with other chains, such as Caravan, going as far as emailing customers with a promise of gift vouchers if they introduce candidates who end up being recruited.

Pub chains Marston’s and Mitchells and Butlers blamed the shortage primarily on the stop-start nature of the lockdown and the trend for overseas staff to return to their countries of origin.

Chairman of recruitment giant Reed told the Sunday Times that the jobs pendulum had swung back in favour of workers. He added there were job shortages across the board, not just in hospitality, with 18,000 vacancies added online in just one day last week – “the highest number I can recall in years”.

The growing evidence of labour shortages may have implications for new openings and expansions, with US giant Wendy’s recently announcing plans to return to the UK with hundreds of new restaurants.

According to global jobs site and recruitment firm Broadbean Technology vacancies in UK hospitality soared 77% in April from the previous month. However, compared with April 2020, the number of applications fell by 82%.

Broadbean’s managing director Alex Fourlis said firms faced a real challenge enticing employees back to hospitality who had sought work elsewhere during the pandemic.

He also raised fears about the effect Brexit might have on recruitment in hospitality. “This drop in applications follows the UK’s exit from the EU and potentially suggests that Brexit has had a long-lasting impact on hospitality.”

Chief executive of industry body UK Hospitality, Kate Nicholls, told the Sunday Times it was time for the government to review its shortage occupations list.

“We’ve also suggested an Australian-style coronavirus recovery visa for lower-skilled workers who don’t meet the point-based system [but] who are crucial to the recovery,” she said.

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