You’re undoubtedly reading this because you’re already involved in the hospitality industry, so I don’t have to sell you on what a fabulous industry it is.

Two of the biggest reasons it’s such a fantastic industry are its diversity and inclusivity. The hospitality industry welcomes everybody, whoever you are, whatever your background, whatever your gender, ethnicity or nationality. If you’re willing to work hard, focus on excellence, and you’re passionate about providing outstanding service, you’re guaranteed to find a place in the hospitality family (and on our books, here at Prime!)

That’s also one of the major reasons we love being in this industry, too, because when we recruit for our clients, we get the chance to meet, interview and consider so many different and interesting people and give them their chance to shine. Our ever-growing database of first-class candidates is the definition of ‘diverse’, which is something we’re very proud of.

So, when a recent report conducted by the workforce management provider Quinyx discovered that almost three-quarters of female hospitality workers have considered quitting their jobs due to low pay and lack of progression, we need to talk about it.

About the report

Every year, Quinyx publishes a State of the Deskless Workforce report. It’s a benchmark survey intended to help employers understand the needs and wants of their frontline (‘deskless’) workers. This year the survey polled 11,000 frontline workers across Western Europe, the Nordics, and North America and uncovered the disparity between the men and women doing these jobs. Although the ‘deskless workforce’ also includes people who work outside the hospitality industry, the hospitality sector forms a significant part of the report’s findings.

What the report discovered

Where the UK was concerned:

  • 71% of female hospitality workers have considered quitting because they are unhappy with their work environment.
  • Only 27% of female workers are comfortable discussing pay rises or wage disparities with managers.
  • 46% of female employees do not believe there are a lot of job opportunities available to them based on their skills.
  • Women are more likely to feel pressured by co-workers into taking shifts they do not want to take (45% female/33% male).
  • 60% of female workers have worked while sick because they could not afford to take time off (vs 49% of male workers).
  • Just 25% of female workers say their manager has shared specific steps towards their promotion, and only 18% say their manager has identified a mentor for them (vs 30% and 25% for male workers.)

According to Quinyx, these results show that priorities and perspectives have shifted dramatically over the past year. The hospitality, retail, healthcare, and logistic sectors have experienced an unprecedented volume of resignations and finding it equally difficult to attract new employees to fill the gaps.

“If you are part of the 90% of global organisations relying on frontline workers to keep your doors open, caring about your employees is vital; but so is taking action to retain them, influence their wellbeing, and care about their career progression,” commented Erik Fjellborg, Quinyx’s CEO and Founder.

You won’t be surprised to hear that we wholeheartedly agree. Regular readers of our articles will know this is a subject we talk a lot about and are working hard to help our clients get right. Making your hospitality team members feel valued and empowered is more vital than ever to the success of your business.

What are the report’s key takeaways?

  1. There’s been a big shift in the global number of frontline workers who have thought about quitting over the past year (48%), with an additional 70% of workers feeling confident they will find another job quickly. Quinyx concludes, ‘This shift in mindset has played a significant part in the labour shortage and made hiring more challenging for employers. In addition, employers need their hourly staff more than their employees believe they need the organisation’.
  2. While office workers enjoy greater flexibility via remote working etc., many deskless workers don’t.
  • 33% said they have no control over their schedule.
  • 25% believed asking for a schedule change would be negatively perceived.
  • 22% are concerned their employers will penalise them for refusing to pick up someone else’s shift.
  • 62% feel uncomfortable speaking to their managers about the impact their work schedule is having on their health.
  • 62% are worried that telling their manager about how scheduling issues are negatively impacting their lives would be penalised.
  1. Almost 38% reported uncomfortable working conditions resulting from the labour shortage, and 65% said that understaffing has led to a more stressful work environment. As a result, speaking about reducing working hours to achieve a better work-life balance made 72% of frontline workers feel nervous, and 69% of frontline workers felt anxious about raising understaffing issues with their employer.

What should happen next?

It is everyone’s responsibility to address those three key takeaways and start implementing the necessary solutions. However, where the UK’s female hospitality workers are concerned, solutions must be found immediately. Although we all like to think of the hospitality industry as diverse and inclusive, the Quinyx report highlights that it is not a level playing field.

One of the reasons for that is probably historical and impacts all genders because many people join our industry when they’re young enough to handle the long shift patterns, weekend work, unsociable hours, and low pay because they’re just starting out and getting themselves established. But earning £10 or £12 an hour when you’re in your late teens or early twenties is entirely different from earning £10 to £12 an hour when you’re in your 30s, 40s, or older. Once you’re past those first ‘establishing yourself’ years, you have more financial responsibilities and commitments; you’ll want to progress in your career, you’ll want to start a family, you’ll want to save for the future. That means you need to be earning at least £30,000 to £40,000 even to hope to keep pace with the standard of living plus make working hard at your hospitality career worthwhile.

Another reason is that, although many women are employed in management roles, the senior, more highly paid and flexible positions in the hospitality industry are still occupied mainly by men. This means that lots of women are leaving our industry and taking their invaluable skills with them because they believe they’ll never be considered for those elite jobs. It’s also why women who might otherwise consider transitioning into hospitality from another industry are deterred from doing it. As Quinyx’s chief HR officer, Toma Pagouite, says, “Women’s experiences are consistently falling short across the board”, and 2022 is an opportunity for “a sustained shift in organisation’s priorities (to) redress the balance and get employee engagement and wellbeing right for everyone.”

Because it’s our job to work closely with our clients to find the very best candidates to join their teams, we’ve also noticed what might be a contributing factor since the Covid lockdowns ended. Now that a lot of hospitality businesses have thankfully started to get back onto their feet, they’re not just focused on rebuilding themselves and recouping what they lost during the pandemic; many of them are also trying to catch up on lost time and expand far too quickly. The result is that their staff are bearing the brunt of that pressure and feeling underappreciated and burned out.

As a hospitality employer or manager, is it time you rethought your priorities and especially looked for better ways to retain, develop, and – when you have a vacancy – attract more female employees?

There are many ways you might do it. You could offer more competitive pay. You could ensure that an equal number of mentorships and career opportunities are available to all genders. You could also factor in other ‘female-focused’ workplace benefits like enhanced family leave and more flexible working hours for team members with child or eldercare responsibilities. Representation can be a powerful tool, too. If your female workers see women in your company in senior positions, it will show you visibly promote and champion equality and set an extremely positive precedent.

Don’t forget that your business is only as strong as its people, which is especially true in the hospitality sector. The more varied and happier your team members are, the more comfortable and welcomed your customers will feel. Investing equally in each of your employees is more critical than ever in today’s hugely competitive hospitality marketplace. We can give you a head start with all the talented and diverse candidates on our database. Contact our expert team on 020 7580 4398 or email info@primerec.co.uk to find out more.

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