As a worker shortage continues to hamper the sector’s recovery, three quarters of pub and restaurant bosses say they are increasing pay to attract staff.
One in six jobs currently lies vacant, and 96 per cent of business leaders were seeing staffing shortages for some roles, according to a survey of 200 senior executives from across the hospitality industry.
The CGA business confidence survey, which was conducted by technology firm Fourth, showed that the shortage of staff was prompting bosses to step up efforts to attract and retain workers.
Around 76 per cent of respondents said they had offered better pay as part of their retention strategies, while 75 per cent had stepped up levels of communication with staff in an attempt to increase retention levels.
Meanwhile, 18 per cent of leaders surveyed said they felt confident about their recruitment and retention over the next 12 months – a fall from 67 per cent who felt confident in the last business confidence survey three months ago.
Karl Chessell, CGA’s director of hospitality operators and food for Europe, said: “These figures illustrate the full scale of hospitality’s recruitment and retention crisis.
“Thousands of businesses are now critically short of staff, while many of those who have sufficient labour face a fight to keep hold of it.
Gaps at front and back of house and fast-rising wage costs threaten to derail the industry’s recovery, and sustained, targeted Government support is now urgently needed to tackle the problem.
The labour crisis has hit businesses across the hospitality sector, with Pan-Asian chain Wagamama recently revealing difficulty in hiring chefs in a fifth of its restaurants.
Chief executive Thomas Heier said Brexit was having an impact on the number of European workers looking for jobs in the UK and the company was struggling to fill chef vacancies at around 30 sites.
In its full-year trading update on Friday, pub chain Wetherspoons also said that despite increasing employee numbers from 39,025 to 42,003, it had faced shortages at sites in holiday hotspots across the country.
Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality chief executive, called on the Government to relax immigration rules to fill the shortages this week and urged it to review tax rates for the sector.
She said: “With the right support and conditions, the sector has the potential to be at the forefront of the economic recovery.
“In order to drive further job creation, we urge Government to implement a long-overdue reform of business rates and a permanently lower rate of VAT for hospitality and tourism in order to help fragile businesses back on their feet.”