Why is it difficult to recruit Hospitality Staff Post Covid?

As the industry is gearing up to fully re-open there is a crisis looming within hospitality and the problem is recruitment.

Working in this sector is hard, the hours are long, unsociable and not conducive to quality of life. Pay has been traditionally low and tip distribution also now diminishes a very meagre return.

However, it is a job that many can have immediate access to as a first or part time job. Despite all of the above, it can be one of the most rewarding roles you can ever do.

Where has it gone wrong?

Some brands are struggling, especially at high volume sites and with another outlier being Michelin Star or Brasserie style restaurants.

All the traditional methods have been deployed, agencies engaged and even with increased offers of commission the roles are remaining unfilled.

Herein lies the problem. The United Kingdom has now turned into a workers’ market. This will of course have a future impact on pricing to the customer, but the immediate problem still needs solving.

My advice to any business owner or manager who is struggling to recruit staff is to follow a candidate’s journey as they try to apply.

One barrier is the application. The question you ask is how easy is it to do?

As part of the research for this article I applied for entry level roles for a major hotel brand, a restaurant brand and a high-end restaurant brand.

It may surprise you the challenges that were faced. Firstly, I have to register my details for two out of three and create an account. This felt like data capture to start and proceeded to fill out quite a lengthy application online. The percentage completion bar signifying progress felt like it just was not increasing. After 20 minutes I was on the final page then they asked me to attach my current CV. This was infuriating as this was a clear duplication.

The other role that I applied for was just a link with an option for a cover letter and was luckily enough to find the role on LinkedIn as an ‘Easy Apply’ option.

Moments of Truth

As with Customer Service there is also a Zero Moment of Truth, especially with regards to job hunting and it is the speed of which a reply is sent to the candidate.

It may be tempting to call some straight away but asking them permission via email to call them at an arranged time is the start of building a relationship. There is nothing worse than being called without warning and be expected to make that quality first impression, it is certainly not fair to the candidate.

When you have arranged the call, let them know the time, who will be calling and send them some additional information about the company. You want to give the candidate every opportunity to succeed and not to create barriers. Remember, let them know the vision and values up front. It will help them prepare.

The call will be made promptly and with the end goal of arranging a face-to-face interview with the hiring manager. Recruitment should always be the same as customer services and you must only ever pass them onto the person who can make a decision. Otherwise, it is just another unnecessary step. Let them know what to expect on the day and be very clear on how to get there and what to do upon arrival. This must always be followed up in writing. On the day, the interviewer must always be in a location that is suitable for the interview and without distractions. One trick that has always yielded good results is for one of the businesses key players to take the candidate for a tour around the premises, this way any questions can be asked, and the candidate is put at ease.

During the interview ensure the candidate has a glass of water. They may politely refuse due to nervousness but taking a sip of water is a natural way for the candidate to pause and think to give an answer to a question during the interview.

After the interview thank the candidate and let them know the next steps. A quick no is always better than a long yes. So, ensure feedback is given on the same day if possible. There is no excuse for prolonging this part of the process and this is the stage where you lose potential staff if you procrastinate.

If the candidate is successful, then ensure Human Resources complete all the formalities and paperwork as soon as possible. This is a great point to cement the relationship and get the candidate excited about starting so an investment of an on-boarding gift would do the brand wonders, as it would be shared on social media and your new advocate is already promoting you.

The first day is also a big moment of truth and will have a huge impact on whether that new member of staff is retained after the first 30 days. Ensure they have an induction organised along with a training schedule. Also, a buddy is important and the basis of forming their first peer-to-peer relationship.

Then sit down with them and record feedback after their first shift, first week, first month and every month until they pass their probation. Also, if they have met all measures and standards then there is no reason why this cannot be done sooner.


Occam’s Razr states that the simplest of theories in this case process should be followed to achieve an outcome so in other words treat the candidate like you would a customer. A lot of damage can be done to your brand by an ex-employee, it can cost usually a third of their salary to replace and train a new starter, so it makes financial sense to maintain a great manager and team member relationship.

•Make applying for a role simpler

•Reply straight away with permission to call

•Call them, sell them the company and invite to interview

•Follow up in writing and detail what to expect on the day

•Have a key player meet the candidate and tour the business

•The interviewer to be in a suitable space free from distractions

•Let the candidate know the same day, with feedback

•HR to onboard straight away with contract and paperwork

•Send on-boarding gift to generate goodwill

•Day one induction with a detailed training plan

•Day one ‘buddy’ to help build peer-to-peer relationships

•Review after first day, first week, first month and every month

•Remove probation status as soon as they achieve standards


Whilst the industry and sectors are advocating changes in contract, working times, holiday days etc… with additional increases in pay. Always remember that people work for people and this fact will fundamentally never change.

If you require any assistance with your business or need advice on raising capital with either debt or equity. Or you require support of the team with regards to finance, marketing or operations then please contact GJC Advisory who will be more than happy to listen.


Written By: Scott Everest