Employees, rather than customers, are the biggest challenge facing hospitality businesses as the sector re-opens.

Bizimply staff

The majority of operators have experienced some team members refusing to return to work, according to new research by workforce management specialist Bizimply. Half of employers say they lack enough trained or experienced staff to fully re-open. 

The new Reopening Expectations and Challenges survey of employers confirms that many operators are struggling to find enough experienced staff. The findings tally with the views of trade body UKHospitality, which has flagged up the challenge in terms of both the total number of available employees, after many EU citizens left the UK to return to their home countries, as well as skills shortages in specific areas.

The Bizimply survey shows that the vast majority of operators — more than 90% — also expect some labour-intensive covid prevention measures, such as table-only service and social distancing, to be a requirement beyond the 21st June date set by the government.

In addition, hospitality businesses are showing an increased reluctance to ‘police’ customers’ covid status on behalf of the authorities. Only 25% of businesses said they would welcome a proof-of-vaccine or vaccine passport scheme, compared to 53% who said they supported a scheme pre-opening, in a Bizimply survey in February.

Bizimply chief executive, Conor Shaw, said: “Our survey shows that the scale of the employment challenge facing the UK hospitality sector shouldn’t be underestimated. Most customers have been in a forgiving mood in the early weeks of re-opening, but they won’t accept poor or slow service for too long.

“Equally, the realities of day-to-day trading with covid measures in place has clearly hardened operators against the idea of a proof-of-vaccine scheme. The number who do not want to be required to check customers’ vaccine status has increased significantly since hospitality re-opened.”

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