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Challenges and Solutions in Hospitality Recruitment

The hospitality sector has had a rollercoaster ride over the last few years. From shortages in seasonal staff due to Brexit, through two years of Covid, to the current cost of living crisis, it’s been a topsy-turvy time for anyone in hospitality. Thankfully, signs of recovery are promising but vacancy signs still adorn many restaurant windows. 

In fact, according to, vacancies in hospitality were 72% higher for the three-month period Nov-Jan 2023 when compared to the immediate pre-pandemic period of Jan-March 2020. So why is it still so difficult to recruit staff into the hospitality sector? In this blog we’ll explore this in more depth and look at the challenges in hospitality recruitment and some possible solutions.

What are the Challenges and Solutions in Hospitality Recruitment?

1. Hiring and retaining staff

Challenge: hospitality is all about the people. Whether it’s customer-facing or behind the scenes, people are what make the difference in hospitality. And yet one of the biggest challenges facing the hospitality sector is hiring staff. More specifically, hiring the right staff and, crucially, then retaining them. 

Solution: it is important for hospitality establishments to make sure they are recruiting in the right places to attract the right people. That means posting on jobs boards, via social media, in industry publications and through dedicated hospitality recruitment agencies, such as RE Recruitment. 

2. Labour leakage

Challenge: even though the hospitality sector is seeing some recovery, a shortage of staff is still a major problem. Since Brexit and Covid, it has been reported that over 300,000 staff have left their jobs and returned to their home countries. This has led to a shortage in hospitality staff, especially at peak seasons. 

Solution: there needs to be more emphasis on developing home-grown talent. That means educating school leavers and job seekers and convincing them that hospitality is a viable  career option for them. It also means offering good training and development programmes for existing staff so that their talents can be built upon for the future.

3. Skills shortage

Challenge: hospitality jobs are varied and so require staff with a variety of different skills and experience. But, whether it’s kitchen portering, front of house receptionist or head chef, the skills need to match the role. Many establishments are suffering as they are recruiting staff who simply don’t have the necessary skills to work in hospitality. While some roles can be classified as unskilled, there are still certain soft skills which are necessary, such as good communication, listening, organisation, reliability and being able to take the initiative.

Solution: using a specialist hospitality recruitment agency to hire staff will ensure you employ people with the right skills. RE Recruitment has built up a pool of talented employees who work within the hospitality sector. We always thoroughly vet our candidates so we can guarantee that any potential employees we put forward will have the relevant skills required for the role. 

4. Lack of benefits 

Challenge: many jobs in the hospitality sector are low-paid, irregular and unreliable. Zero contract hours, lack of benefits such as sick pay and holiday allowance and unsociable hours, are all barriers that can prevent the right type of people applying for roles.

Solution: when advertising for hospitality roles it is important to highlight the key benefits of the role and what makes your establishment and offering stand out compared to others. Incentives such as higher wages, tip-sharing, free staff meals and discounts are all incentives that could help to attract the right candidate. At RE Recruitment we can advise on the best way to advertise your hospitality role to ensure a high calibre of staff.

5. Poor perception

Challenge: hospitality work is often seen as casual work that is used as a stop-gap or for a little extra money on the side, before taking on something more permanent. For this reason, the hospitality industry often suffers with staff retention and fails to attract staff who are motivated to develop skills and progress in their career.

Solution: more needs to be done to highlight how rewarding a career in hospitality can be and what the potential benefits could be. Each business needs to point out their unique offerings, any training opportunities or pathways to career development. 

Need help with your hospitality recruitment?

As a specialist hospitality recruitment agency, RE Recruitment delivers talented hospitality and catering professionals to some of the region’s most prestigious industry names.

Over the last two decades, we’ve established, retained and built a vast network of skilled and passionate hospitality professionals, enabling us to supply a reliable, comprehensive service to our clients. If you’d like to find out more, please speak to one of our hospitality recruitment advisers.

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