Premier Inn owner Whitbread is to pay a one-off summer retention bonus to hotel and restaurant staff in 2022, in an attempt to attract more candidates.
The company said it had put aside £10m to reward staff who decided to stay with the company in the second half of next year, as it contended with the chronic shortage of labour across the hospitality sector.
Labour shortages are particularly acute in tourist hotspots and in London, according to Whitbread’s interim results statement. However, it said it was in a better position than most competitors because it had retained more employees during Covid-19 shutdowns than initially anticipated.
Earlier this month Premier Inn said it needed to recruit 2,000 people in roles including housekeeping, reception and kitchens.
Whitbread CEO Alison Brittain said: “The operating environment during the summer and into autumn has been challenging largely as a result of our very high occupancy levels, market-wide supply chain issues and a tighter labour supply in the hospitality sector.
“Although we are not immune from these challenges, we are well placed to respond. Our £100m efficiency programme is well underway and we are ‘investing to win’ in our teams, our hotels and our marketing, in order to continue to grow our market share as demand recovers and as our competitors continue to be under pressure.”
The company said it would continue to monitor the market to ensure staff pay remains competitive. Earlier this month it revealed a pay increase for its hourly-paid team members, with minimum pay rates increasing by over 5%. This will cost the firm £12-13m this year, the results statement revealed.
Announcing the increase earlier in October, managing director Simon Evans said the wage increase was awarded to express “thanks and gratitude” to employees who had helped the business recover following lockdowns, and would help attract new talent.