Remember when you were at school, and your history teacher told you that time is broken up into those two eras called AD and BC?

Thanks to the Covid pandemic and the life and societal changes it’s forced upon us, we’ve now got two more era-defining letters that history teachers can bamboozle their students with: PC, for Post-Covid.

And hospitality recruitment has changed radically in the post-Covid world. Not just hospitality recruitment, but recruitment in almost every other sector and industry as well.

The reason for that is simple.

Covid-19 massively changed customer behaviour.

Because customers massively changed the way they behave, the businesses supplying them had to massively change the way they behaved too.

Unfortunately for those of us who work in the wonderful world of hospitality, hospitality is the ultimate customer-facing industry. Our survival depends on customers walking through our doors, buying our food, drinking our drinks, sleeping in our hotels, and using our facilities. That’s why, of all the other industries out there, hospitality (including leisure and tourism) was hit hardest when Covid-19 arrived. It’s also why the hospitality industry is still finding it especially difficult to rebuild now that Covid-19 is (apparently, but not really) in our rear-view mirror.

This situation has affected hospitality recruitment in a unique way because the hospitality industry has traditionally appealed to younger workers, transient/overseas workers, and older less-academically qualified workers who chose hospitality because it’s a world where they can use their invaluable interpersonal skills to develop and belong.

Brexit had already inflicted a fair amount of damage on the hospitality industry before Covid arrived because it made finding employment in the UK a lot more difficult for overseas workers, especially the technically less-skilled workers who would typically gravitate towards those lower-paid hospitality sector jobs.

Then, a tremendous ripple effect started when Covid hit, and our venues had to close while our customers and we were all quarantined at home.

Here’s what the PC hospitality recruitment ripple effect looked like.

Not only did a lot of hospitality workers find themselves without a job to go back to when everything else started to reopen, but many companies in other industries also found it challenging to hire people. As a result, the recruiters in those industries have ended up hiring a lot of the less-skilled workers they’d never even have considered before.

The knock-on effect of that is that many of the people who used to work in hospitality have either already taken or are actively looking for jobs in those other industries because:

  1. recruiters in those industries are now keen to hire them, even though they don’t have the skills they’d usually be looking for.
  2. the salaries those industries offer are on a par – and usually higher – than the salary they’d make in hospitality.
  3. with many hospitality venues still struggling to get back on their feet and looking for ways to cut costs, hospitality doesn’t feel like a secure world to go back to right now. When an employer in another sector is offering them a job that’s slightly better paid, apparently more secure, and potentially gives them the opportunity to move into a career they wouldn’t have been considered for pre-Covid because they didn’t have the skills, on paper it looks like a much more attractive fit.
  4. Covid has given all of us (stand by for more letters) a fair degree of PTSD. Many hospitality workers not only felt they were left high-and-dry when their employers closed their doors during the pandemic, they’re concerned the same thing will happen if another outbreak occurs. It’s not just stability that hospitality workers want; it’s the reassurance that their employers will have their back when something like Covid happens. Many hospitality workers have left our industry because they didn’t trust their employers had their best interests at heart.

Meanwhile, something else is happening in the hospitality recruitment market:

  • people who used to work in other industries, who don’t have hospitality skills but do have a lot of other skills and experience that savvy hospitality employers could benefit from, are now seeking jobs in the hospitality sector. Why? For a lot of different reasons. Some of them are considering hospitality because their former jobs simply don’t exist anymore, or their last employer let them go and then hired someone less skilled for less money to fill the role. Some of them are looking for a total sea-change because going through Covid has made them realise how unhappy they were in their former job, and now they want to try hospitality because it’s something different and exciting that could open up new avenues.

And as a result:

  • hospitality employers who aren’t willing to adapt, offer a better salary, adopt a more welcoming and supportive work culture, or consider people from other industries because they don’t already have hospitality skills…
  • are finding it much harder to fill their vacancies.
  • are much more difficult for even expert recruiters like us to recruit for because even though – here, at Prime – we’ve got an extensive database of top-quality candidates hungry for hospitality work, a lot of those candidates are also much more willing to wait until the perfect opportunity (i.e., employer) comes along. That’s because, candidates know there are so many vacancies out there (not just in hospitality, but in other sectors too) that it’s worthwhile waiting until the right one comes along. That’s not only because they’ve realised how valuable they’ll be to the right employer, so they’re looking for an employer who will appreciate and reward their value, but also because candidates in all industries want to find a role they know they’ll be happy in long-term. These are still difficult, uncertain times, so finding a job that offers security and a place to feel valued and secure is more important than ever.

For hospitality recruiters, that’s meant encouraging employers to change their behaviours so they have a much better chance of attracting and retaining new staff.

At Prime, the hospitality employers we’re finding it a lot easier to place candidates with have:

  • Cast their net wider so that it’s not just people with existing hospitality skills they’re willing to consider. Instead, they’re looking for the right people, regardless of experience, and then they’ll train them in the skills they need. i.e., even though candidates who have come from other industries won’t have technical hospitality skills, they may have soft skills like communication, problem-solving and negotiation that will be equally as important.
  • Increased their pay rates to attract more top-quality candidates.
  • Evolved their workplace culture to offer opportunities for development and promotion, a more welcoming and inclusive place to work, attractive incentives, and a better work-life balance. i.e., demonstrating they’re already an employer who actively values and supports their staff.
  • Are booking staff who might only be available part-time, sometimes as little as one day a week.
  • Are offering temporary staff a set five days per week for a minimum three, six or nine month period, which gives both the team member and our client much-needed consistency.
  • Are asking us for support staff who will support a permanent team member in the role and allow them to provide even better customer service.
  • Are making their hiring decisions faster because they know if they don’t offer the prospective candidate a start date quickly, someone else will.

So, in a much-longer-than-I-thought-this-article-would-be nutshell, that’s how and why hospitality recruitment has changed so enormously thanks to the perfect storm of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

But here’s the thing…

Even though Covid-19 forced all our behaviours to change – as employers, recruiters, candidates, and customers – it’s also given us the opportunity to make essential improvements to what we do. As a hospitality employer, casting your net wider, offering more competitive pay, establishing a more inclusive and supportive workplace culture, and assuring your staff more consistency and stability, will make your vacancy much more attractive to the first-class candidates we have waiting for you at Prime.

We have a lot of fantastic candidates on our books, it’s also going to help us lift you out of the crowd so that our perfect candidates will want to work for you.

And, if you’re a job seeker looking for a fulfilling career in the hospitality industry, you can rest assured that Prime is the recruitment agency you should come to first because we’re working with and recruiting for the best and most forward-thinking employers in our industry.

At Prime, we’re focused on making the post-Covid recruitment experience a success for everybody involved. Call us on 020 7580 4398 or email info@primerec.co.uk to find out more. Whether you’re an employer or a potential candidate, our friendly, expert advisors will always be here to help.

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