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The big recruitment challenge: 20+ ways hospitality businesses are adapting.

20+ things hospitality businesses are talking about right now to manage the recruitment crisis in hospitality.



When we talk to our clients in the hospitality sector, the biggest challenge that everyone across the sector still faces is the ongoing shortage of staff, and in particular, a shortage of chefs! But despite this, we have seen a really busy start to the year, with new entrants to the sector and established businesses looking to expand.


So, in light of the recruitment challenges currently being faced, what are hospitality businesses saying and doing to recruit and retain people?


We take a quick look at over 20 things hospitality businesses are doing right now:


1. Reducing and/or ‘dumbing down’ menus – clever menu design with simplified choices are helping businesses to reduce costs, manage lower staffing levels and keep customers satisfied.

2. Multi-skilling and cross-training food and beverage teams - meaning everyone can work front and back of house as required to fill any staffing gaps and keep things running smoothly.

3. Challenging their suppliers to come up with other solutions – such as the quality of produce, hot and cold options, and also ‘grab and go’ meals.

4. Sourcing new suppliers and negotiating better deals – all to maintain standards of quality, while keeping costs lower.

5. Looking at internal quality control processes – allowing businesses to operate in a lean capacity and not shed loads of stuff unnecessarily.

6. Re-training their managers - in things such as wastage, stock, labour controls to ensure businesses are operating as efficiently as possible.

7. Running sales and upselling workshops for staff – capitalising on all opportunities for the business to maximise sales.

8. Ensuring coffee and drink dispensing machines all correctly calibrated – avoiding any unnecessary wastage and keeping costs low.

9. Changing products to achieve better margins – carefully reviewing brands and types of products sold.

10. Analysing data - what’s selling, what isn’t, and generally being much more on top of their sales mix.

11. Reviewing opening & closing hours – and adjusting accordingly to keep the business profitable.

12. Reviewing service style – is table service, quick service or call order best for the business in the current climate and how it wishes to operate?

13. Maximising seasonal revenue opportunities – such as Valentines’ Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Fathers’ Day, Halloween etc.

14. Looking at what meetings or event space the business has to capitalise on – offering new event options as an ad on service and devising suitable hospitality packages.

15. Accommodating children – with play areas, kid friendly menus and seasonal entertainment. Happy children = happy parents = more money spent.

16. Reviewing utility bills – while there aren’t any cheaper options in terms of moving supplier right now, companies are reviewing where they might be able to cut back or streamline in order to save money.

17. Reviewing food costs – are there cheaper alternatives to what they might have been previously using – such as cheaper cuts of meat?

18. Apprenticeship programmes – either looking to existing external programmes or creating their own internal programmes as a means of sourcing talent and investing in the next generation for the sector.

19. Joining forces with job centres – as a means of finding staff, in particular regarding getting the over 50’s back to work!

20. Embracing technology – to streamline systems, procedures, and also improve time management and cost control.

21. Competitor analysis – being aware of what your competitors are doing and what the high street is doing.

22. Talking to Penny Cook Recruitment – about their success, challenges and frustrations, and also seeking help in sourcing the best hospitality talent for their businesses.


There is lots of expansion happening in the sector and new brands coming to market, which is really exciting to see and a sign of the strong demand from customers. We are also starting to see a bit more activity on the job market, with more managers now actively looking for new opportunities. Like most people in hospitality, we are eagerly watching to see if this is the start of a bigger trend of talent movement in the sector.


Despite the ongoing staffing and many other challenges, the hospitality sector is doing all it can to adapt, evolve and face these challenges head on to drive their businesses forward.

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