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Business leaders networking at the Peach 20/20 Conference  

31 Aug 2021

Optimism among Hospitality Professionals dips amid staffing challenges and safety concerns

Peter Martin
As the sector continues to bounce back from the pandemic employers need to address the ongoing challenges facing hospitality teams to retain staff in the long term.

Hospitality teams generally feel safe in the venues they work in, but the reduction of COVID-19 restrictions has increased concern for safety for some.

This is one of the key takeaways from a new survey conducted by Peach 20/20 principle partner CGA and CPL Learning of Hospitality Professionals, a group of people working in frontline roles across the sector providing crucial perspectives for employers to help support COVID-19 recovery.

Overall, confidence is high with 3 in 4 hospitality staff reporting that they feel generally safe in the venues they work in. However, freedom day has reduced how safe some staff feel compared to when there were more stringent measures in place in October last year, with just 1 in 5 currently feeling comfortable working with no restrictions. And this sentiment is mirrored by consumers with a drop in the proportion feeling safe in venues after freedom day.

In relation to safety measures, staff would like to see enforced social distancing and increased hygiene procedures remain key to helping staff feel safe, with over half of staff showing a preference for staff and customers to continue wearing masks.

Going forward, the increased instability within the sector caused by the pandemic and the furlough scheme allowing staff to explore other sectors (especially those who were previously less engaged) has resulted in staff shortages and recruitment becoming a huge challenge for the sector with nearly three quarters (72%) of survey respondents describing staff shortages as the number one challenge they have faced since reopening.

The increased pressure on hospitality staff is already having a detrimental effect on longer-term optimism for the sector with a drop in the proportion of staff who plan to stay in hospitality long-term. Currently, less than half (42%) said that they planned to stay in the sector for more than five years, a drop of 8 percentage points since January.

The sentiment is echoed in the number of hospitality professionals who would recommend working in the industry to family and friends with again, less than half (48%) reporting that they would, a drop of 13 percentage points from the previous year.

The survey also revealed some of the reasons why the sector is struggling to attract and retain staff, with respondents rating unsociable hours (72%), pay (65%), lack of benefits (52%) and unpredictable shifts (43%) some of the biggest challenges of working in hospitality.

Operators need to look to review the benefits and packages they are currently offering employees to shift perceptions of the sector as a long-term career option. A significant number (63%) of hospitality professionals ranked paid sick leave as their number one most essential benefit they would like offered by employers in the sector, followed by fixed contracts with set hours (50%) and bonuses (46%). In addition, a growing number of hospitality workers would like a clearer career pathway within the sector, as a lack of professional development opportunities since returning to work was also highlighted.

Jamie Campbell, Director of CPL Learning said, “Learning and development opportunities have consistently featured as a high priority for team members across the Hospitality Professionals surveys conducted over the last year. Operators need to showcase the career development opportunities available to the people who work for them, and by investing in development and learning they will benefit from a more engaged and loyal workforce”.

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the sector over the last year and half, and while there are short- and longer-term challenges to overcome, the industry is working hard to provide the much-needed support for employees and employers”, says Karl Chessell, Director, Hospitality Operators and Food, EMEA. “Attracting and retaining staff, investing in development, and showcasing the fantastic career opportunities hospitality can offer will be a key focus to help motivate, engage and keep employees in the long-term.”

CPL Learning are offering learning resources and content to support employers in engaging teams. The Aspire channel is a platform for motivational and inspiring content for teams and a community sharing stories of hospitality success. The most recent series to be launched feature interviews with hospitality professionals and showcases the diverse career opportunities in hospitality, find out more on Aspire.

The survey from CGA and CPL Learning was conducted in July 2021. The Hospitality Professionals panel provides in-depth insights into people’s experiences at work and can support the strategies of all businesses across hospitality. To learn more, email

This piece was originally created for the CGA Newsletter - August 27, 2021

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