Staffing Challenge Ahead For Hospitality, Warns Bizimply

April 2021

Hospitality businesses are likely to face significant challenges in restaffing as they prepare to reopen after lockdown, warns workforce management specialist Bizimply.

Businesses are understandably focused on the logistics of physically reopening sites, as well as putting measures in place to comply with Covid regulations, and may be in for a shock when they start drawing up staff rotas.

Conor Shaw, Bizimply CEO, says: “Hospitality relies on effective teams as well as experienced individuals, and the reality is that in most cases, team members haven’t worked together for many months.

“Some will have looked elsewhere during the lockdown, and as always it’s the best people in hospitality who have the most options when it comes to employment choices. Disruption and uncertainty will have taken their toll.”

He believes: “Those operators who have kept in close touch with furloughed employees and continued to engage them with the business where possible, will be best placed to bring their teams back into action.”

Amongst them is restaurant operator and Bizimply customer Daisy Green, which has involved its staff in a volunteer baking project to support NHS staff during Lockdown. Reflecting Daisy Green’s Australian theme, the project, Radio Lamington has seen 50,000 of the iconic Aussie cakes delivered to NHS workers.

Daisy Green founder Prue Freeman says: “We’ve been able to stay together during the pandemic, supported by furlough; and baking for the NHS for almost 12 months has brought the team together when times were tough.

“We have worked through this as a family, so most importantly it’s been about contact, support and care for staff. The volunteer baking has been fantastic for us all and the reception has been heart-warming.”

As it prepares to reopen its sites across London, the Daisy Green business is seeing the benefits of engaging with staff through lockdown, says Freeman. “Now, we’re just excited to get going. We have safety measures in place, and we’ve all felt safe during the periods when we were open, so confidence is sky high.” Measures in place across the business include custom made screens, outside seating, and strict hygiene and safety protocols.

This tallies with a recent survey of hospitality operators by Bizimply, which found that 86% are investing in reassuring staff through Covid-specific measures such as PPE, and increased hygiene. .

Shaw says: “The Office for National Statistics has reported that thousands of EU workers have returned to their home countries over the past year as hospitality shut down due to the pandemic, and the reality of Brexit became apparent. Businesses also expect some staff to be reluctant to return to work, due to factors such as their perceived Covid risk, despite the measures operators are putting in place.

“Getting the key people back in place, including GMs and team leaders, will be an important first step. They need to be highly visible, front of house, reassuring staff and customers, and helping to overcome the understandable anxieties that everyone will be feeling in the weeks after reopening. If they can do this, staff will feel motivated and start loving their job again, and customers will relax and start enjoying their visits to the pub or restaurant.”

The right technology, such as staff rota, HR, operations and payroll management systems, will reduce the hours GMs need to spend on back of house admin, and keep them front of house, where they need to be to support their teams to overcome the challenges ahead and rebuild their businesses.

Freeman at Daisy Green adds: “Working with Bizimply has enabled us schedule our staff using flexible rotas, that makes sense for the reopening while there is so much uncertainty, We are also using the clock-in questionnaire, which asks staff about their health and well-being, to ensure everybody stays safe.”

Shaw says: “Looking beyond staffing, the next six months are going to be amongst the most challenging that many hospitality businesses have ever faced. Alongside established businesses coming back from lockdown, there are gaps in the market that will attract entrepreneurs with new concepts looking to disrupt the hospitality sector.

“Preparation is the key – those who aren’t ready for what’s to come may not be around for long in the post-Covid hospitality market.”