Few things in life are constant, but a shortage of staff in the hospitality sector staffing is a constant concern. Over the last few months operators have bemoaned the fact staff are still a major stressor. Despite valiant efforts to attract staff, there is still a shortage of people to fill positions. Since the pandemic, a large pool of staff left hospitality. They took with them a large amount of intellectual knowledge about the workings of the industry. Slowly it seems to be improving. Part of the reason for this is that people who previously left are now returning. Some drifted to other sectors only to realise that hospitality was their true vocation.
Failte Ireland, in their Spring Sector Review 2022, outlined the challenges of the situation. It is estimated then in the region of 4 out of ten employed in the sector did not return after Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) ended. Around 15% moved to another operator and over 27% left for pastures new. This equated to almost 40,000 vacancies and that gives a sense of the mountain the sector faced.
A change in approach is becoming more evident. An increasing amount of GMs and HR managers are trying to make the business more attractive. Better working conditions – more time off, better rates of pay, and flexibility – are part of the changes being implemented, which the Failte Report encouraged. The report also asked the industry to embrace flexibility and demonstrate opportunities through training and career development. Investment in staff – paid leave for special occasions and accommodation – can also encourage workers.
The industry has reacted in a positive and meaningful way. Early signals are encouraging.
The majority of operators I have spoken to are engaging in real change and supporting individuals on their career paths.
Furthermore, operators have become focused around sustainability and energy wastage. Most hoteliers will relate how customers are asking about sustainability and green initiatives within the property and want to see evidence of programmes in place. It is no longer a fad and is fast becoming a requirement by some tour operators for hotels in order to secure business.
Given the current worrying trends around the climate heat waves experienced in Europe it is evident how critical this issue will be going forward. I have spoken to hoteliers and restaurant operators who have implemented substantial changes around areas of energy, food waste and reducing their carbon footprint. So, let’s see how things pan out.
VAT is due to return to 13.5% as of September. So far, the sector seems to be muted regarding the concern around this. We have a sense of inevitability, perhaps, that it is a done deal. But is it really? Only time will tell.