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Staffing in the Hospitality Industry. Notes

Staffing in the Hospitality Industry

Notes from our discussion on 20.01.20 at Passo.

We asked the audience to write down the issues they are facing in terms of staffing in the industry. We have broken them down into the following categories.


Staff, from an employers point of view

  • Lack of experienced staff, increasing demand on qualified members to provide more training but due to shortages theres an inability to provide sufficient training
  • How do we attract chefs & keep them happy?
  • A large group of applicants who are willing to deal with the working environment aren’t UK Nationals
  • Retaining ambitious service staff – there might not always be opportunities for progression as often as they would like
  • How do we attract people into the industry/promote it better?
  • Drug, alcohol, gambling abuse effecting staff
  • How do you create an environment that keeps quality in an anti-social working hours job?
  • How do you create a good environment for those new to hospitality later in their career?
  • In a 4 hour trial how can you determine the level of skills/team work/attitude and reliability?
  • How do you create a good learning environment for everyone?
  • How do you deal with staff you suspect have a drug addiction problem?
  • Staff knowing of shortages means they behave more transiently and increases of turnover is the result
  • How do you attract & keep kitchen porters?
  • Is anyone talking about KPs? And how to keep them happy & develop?


Wellbeing, work environment, employees

  • Is empathy a dying skill in our industry?
  • How to make hospitality and the food industry more appealing as a career choice for young people?
  • Flexible working – I am a FT mum, wife, house keeper but I still have a few hours I would like to dedicate to work – how?
  • How do you deal with negativity coming from senior member of the team?
  • How can we diversify our workforce?


Industry insights & business questions

  • Whats the industry turnover?
  • What makes an incredible manager in the hospitality world?
  • Can you train & operate a business in a financially responsible way?
  • Benchmarking pay & benefits. How do we find similar companies who want to do this?
  • As the manager is it truly my responsibility to cut/save hours; if the owner/ head office have no done the sums right on profitability?
  • Does anyone believe holding positions until the new financial year or struggling on skeleton teams achieves long term success?
  • How to stand out as a business?


The main topics we were able to discuss were the following:


Some background stats:


Stats taken from UK Hospitality Workforce Commision: the changing face of hospitality 2018


  • The hospitality industry in the UK employs 3.2 million people, ¼ of those are from the EU
  • Produces £130 Billion of economic activity for the UK
  • Hospitality delivers jobs in every constituency in the UK, it can help with country wide growth
  • It’s the 2nd largest employer of EU workers by number
  • The aim is to create 66,000 new jobs & 200,000 apprenticeships over 5 years 2018-2023
  • Hospo provides ‘soft skills’
  • In 2016-2017, 25,000 people joine the industry via apprenticeships
  • 62% of requests for flexible hours came from women with children
  • Hospitality offers meritocratic career pathways
  • Employers need flexibility and need to give staff sufficient notification of shifts



Issue 1 & 2: Getting young people in to hospitality, the new generation

Who are these young people? What categorizes their work patterns?

  • They use more technology and like working in teams
  • They are socially minded and want to give back
  • They have grown up in a time where information can be accessed very quickly and easily
  • They want frequent feedback and check ins, constructive feedback

The negative perception of the hospitality industry

The access to career pathways in the hospitality sector

The ability to switch from one establishment to another very quickly


Solutions. How can we improve this?


Natalie Dormer, Head of Sixth form and works on career advice for the students of Harris Academy

  • Give them access to work experience so they can get a feel for the industry and what its like
  • Come in and participate in our career days where we have different speakers from all different places of work. Inspire them


To get in touch with Natalie email:


Harbi Jammer of Breaking Barriers who works to integrate refugees through employment

  • Have we considered employing young refugees too with a right to work in the UK? They are hard working and want to be given opportunities
  • We must help these young people build a future in the UK
  • Find out more about Breaking Barriers here

You can also email Adrian de Leon, he is the employment engagement officer. Adrian deals with new businesses and can help them to scope out new partnerships


Croydon College, who work with 16-18 year olds

  • Come and speak to our students about the industry and offer work experience
  • The 45 day Extended Work Placements give students a valuable opportunity to put their learning into practice, develop their technical skills and become more employable. Students will spend a minimum of 315 hours (on average, 45-50 days) in a role directly relevant to their course. Students will complete these hours with you on a day release basis, alongside their College course or in block weeks throughout the year (or a combination of this). Melanie's team here will work closely with employers guiding them though this and we make it as simple as possible. Melanie will is happy to speak to any employers who want to take on any of these 45 day work placements. Her contact details are:
  • If any of the employers are looking at upskilling their own teams, want to look at skills gaps and further education and want to tap into funding to do this should contact


  • What makes Apprenticeships great
    Apprenticeships last a minimum of 12 months, which enables sustained
    embedded learning to occur.
  • Increased retention, a multinational hotel chain told LPC that their
    average staff turnover is 40% and their apprentice turnover was just
    24%, which has saved them a huge amount of cost and reduced
  • 90% of apprentices stay on in their place of work after completing an
  • Apprentices are often highly engaged in your business, as they are
    receiving sustained development and have a hunger to grow.
  • 86% of employers said apprenticeships developed skills relevant to their
    organisation and 78% reported improved productivity.
    Apprenticeship funding
  • Large organisations with a wage bill of over £3m put aside 0.5% of their
    wage bill exclusively for apprenticeship training through the
    apprenticeship levy.
  • Small & medium sized businesses who have a wage bill under £3m can
    get the government to co-fund their apprenticeship costs and government
    will pay 95% of the cost of the training.
  • Large levy paying businesses can transfer up to 25% of their
    apprenticeship levy to enable a small business to fully fund an
  • London Progression Collaboration can help you to access funding from
    government or large levy payers.
    How London Progression Collaboration can support you
  • Free advice and support – their work is funded by GLA and JP Morgan
  • Help accessing funding
  • Advise which Apprenticeship Standards could work in your business
  • Advice on choosing a training provider – what to ask of them and how to
    make their offer fit your business
  • Help to get ‘Apprenticeship Ready’ – thinking about how to onboard,
    mentoring, how to get the most out of the apprenticeship for both you
    and the apprentice
  • Help setting an apprenticeship strategy


Sally Abe, Head chef of the Harwood Arms

  • Take time to listen to the young people who work for you, spend time with them and respect them
  • Give them goals along with the tools & skills they need to thrive

Nuvola, pastry chef at Norma

  • Allow young people to train on different sections to get a feel for what they like/don’t like. Be open to being flexible here

Amy, Head Chef of Iris & June

  • We need to work on giving more of a narrative around how a plate of food is made and emphasise the work that goes into creating it
  • More access to mentorship schemes would be hugely beneficial



Issue 3: The high turnover of staff, finding a new job really quickly which creates disloyalty


What contributes to this? Poor management and unpleasant environments.

What can you do as a business to improve this?



Matt, ops manager of Enoteca de Luca

  • Find out what motivates people
  • Run staff surveys to find out more about them and how they find work
  • More money & bonuses seem transactional, instead find out about what motivates the individuals in the business


Harbi Jammer

  • People really care about a cause and wanting to do something, if you can find this out and work with them they will take more pride in their job.
  • People want conscious employers


Vida Carmel, ex head of wellbeing for Leon restaurants

  • Work with employees to find ‘their fish’ – what does a dolphin jump out of the water for?
  • Spend time to find out what motivates these individuals and work this into their time. They will work a lot harder and with more passion if you do this


Lauren, Scene Hospitality

  • The industry isn’t always very flexible, people want to work but may need more flexibility in their rotas.
  • Especially for mothers who want to work.
  • When you give people a rota that works for them they won’t want to leave. People will always want to work different shifts


Dwayne, owner of a recruitment company

  • Internal culture is really important
  • For other people to know about it, highlight this and promote it through your social media channels
  • Hospitality ‘behind the scenes’ and championing individuals should be at the forefront

Countertalk - Ozone are very good at the above, check out their instagram page to see examples of this


Merly Kammerling, Me, Myself in Mind

  • As an employer – are you able to offer any benefits to your staff?
  • Therapy sessions, gym memberships etc?

Countertalk: We are in talks with restaurant/business accountants about any tax exemptions that could help here. We will make sure to share this information with the community when we can.


Issue 4: Kp’s. Attracting and keeping them

Kp’s are hugely valuable to any food business.


John-Michael, Salt Mill Media

We promoted our KP at WOLF to a Sous chef, he now works as a chef in another good establishment.

Often people are shoe horned into being a KP because of their background. With certain KP’s, as soon as you give them more responsibility they take it on and want to progress. Value and recognise this.


Simon Boyle, Beyond Brigade

We train the homeless to work in the hospitality industry through different training programmes.

We should never talk derogatory about anyone in any position in the industry

Trust your staff




Hire Hand offer a solution for keeping a pool of KP’s in your establishment (they offer this for other workers too, more info on their website). They put the power in the hands of the workers as well as the establishment. Companies are able to build up a talent pool of workers that they can rely on. KP’s on this platform are paid fairly and weekly


Respect your staff and listen to them.


Issue 5: Do we need to spend more on staff? If so where do we take the cost hit elsewhere in the business?


Ella De Beer

If most businesses are modelled on the idea of 30, 30, 30.

30 labour costs

30 food/drinks costs

30 other (insurance, rent, maintenance, marketing etc)

10% profit

Where is the margin for upping £ to staff?


Rates will go up as will, labour costs & cost of goods, should this be reflected more in the menu? And should these things be portrayed better to the consumer?


Audience member, a manager

When your staff costs run at over 30% and you see no feasible way of cutting this without it implicating the staff & business what do you do?


Jonny, owner Passo

Be transparent with your staff and share the rough numbers of P&L. Sometimes relaying this info to your staff can cause them to understand why you are struggling and might make them see the business from a different perspective.

Get as many people ‘in the loop’ as possible


Cedar Dean Group found restaurateurs are spending an average of 21% of turnover on rent. Its recommended to be 12% for a business to make a profit. Find the full report here along with some proposed solutions

We need more security on rent, zoning rent controls that are fixed for a period of time. How do we communicate this?




Being more transparent with your staff about the business structure

Upping the menu prices – an easy proposed fix but understandably difficult in execution.

We need more solutions here.


Issue 6: Benchmarking pay & benefits


Can this information be more readily available to similar businesses so that we can help eachother?

What is pay structure, industry averages?


Neals Yard

We are interested in a niche industry here and how we monitor the pay structures in our business. Should cheese makers be compared to sommeliers for example?




Find some good stats on wages for people working in hospitality jobs here


Finding a direct report on the industry like this one would be really helpful in 2020.



Other solutions from the evening with relevant context


Well grounded jobs

Social enterprise - founded to help solve a social need

We do this though:

Improving peoples social skills (confidence, resilience, self dependence)

Work placements (there is no head barista apprenticeships but we try to emulate)

Employers who work with us are keen to build the industry. 

Place people local so they can walk to work

Employers enjoy it as they can develop their own staff as the house mentor also learns

Employers are changing the way they recruit and pay

Build a culture around people from the pool


Click on the web link to find out more about how to employ from the well grounded coffee training academy



Lots of people from Leith’s are career changers but also lots of students

Le them understand that there’s a lot more to the food industry that becoming a chef

Made at Leith’s is celebrating all of the alumni who have left to try and inspire those how could people let their chefs fly to experience other things

Please get in touch with Leith’s if you feel you can contribute to their messaging about working in the industry or how you can work together to promote the industry.

Me myself and mind

Stress reduction, meditation classes 

Self development session and tools that can be used inside and outside the work place

Offering courses and in house therapy sessions


Hospitality speaks

Talking about bullying and harassment in the industry

Tell stories to help others speak up

Solutions only work when we know what the problems are

Helping to benchmark good culture in restaurants.

Also working to change the narrative on the industry and give people the good stories to write about 

The chefs manifesto

“The SDG2 Advocacy Hub facilitates the Chefs' Manifesto, a community of 500+ chefs from over 70 countries, equipped with a simple set of actions to drive progress against the food issues that matter most to them. We believe chefs can be powerful advocates for a better food future – inspiring people to make changes in their kitchens and communities and empowering them to call on governments and companies to also play their part.”

Join us in June in 2020


Thank you for reading. We want to keep this conversation going and spend time working on ways to help businesses improve their staffing situations. If you have anything you would like to share or talk about please get in touch via the website.