The disastrous joint impact of COVID-19 and Brexit has left the hospitality industry reeling. Dubbed the ‘Staffing Crunch’, businesses across the country are struggling to fill roles; they are left with teams that are small and heavily overworked. In this eBook, we explore five vital ways to engage your staff and produce exceptional results from short-staffed teams.


The important stats in the hospitality industry

  • Restaurants are on average 10% – 25% short of staff
  • 72% of businesses in the sector expect to close next year without further support from the government.
  • Job adverts in hospitality have risen by 46% since the sector


Leaders shouldn’t be disheartened. With UK household savings the second highest they have been since 1963, there is a huge demand for hospitality businesses. PwC, for example, reports a 32% increase in the UK’s desire to spend on eating out. The challenge is simply to get the most out of the employees you do have – and meet that explosive demand head-on. 

Unite Employees Behind a Purpose

Staff have always craved a sense of meaning in their work, but the pandemic has led many to feel far more strongly about the matter. Hospitality businesses are often seen by their staff as purely transactional – hence the term ‘service’. But leaders that want to make the most of their limited staff need to connect the dots so that their teams see what they do as vital and impactful. 


This doesn’t have to be about creating a false sense of social engagement: it can be as simple as reminding them that the experiences they give their customers will cascade into the rest of their lives. Happy customers go back out into the world in a better mood, and will likely pass that good feeling on themselves.

Embrace Agility and Flexibility

The word agility is thrown around a lot – mostly by consultants charging exorbitant fees. But the principle is far simpler – and more effective – than it often seems. Agility means removing rigid structures and enabling your business to respond in real-time to changing needs. 

This is particularly relevant to hospitality businesses. By enabling employees to move more fluidly between roles, you create more variety in individuals’ roles and avoid wasted time. A carefully managed division of labour might help a bar or restaurant run fluidly when it is heavily staffed, but when numbers are limited you need to embrace an ‘all hands on deck’ approach.

Reward and Recognise Staff

One of the most common problems cited by hospitality staff is the perceived low status and lack of recognition they experience in their jobs. From customer disputes to long, punishing hours, service-based roles are notoriously tough. And many hospitality workers have permanently turned their backs on the industry following the pandemic – largely because they didn’t feel adequately valued in their roles. 


Some businesses have tried to redress this, offering new hires handsome signing-on bonuses – for roles which have historically never provided such benefits. But leaders looking to get more from their short-staffed teams should consider how they reward and recognise the efforts of their entire workforce. And don’t be afraid to ask your employees directly what kind of rewards they want – it will help them feel included in the decision making process and therefore valued.

Empower Teams and Individuals

When you are short-staffed, each individual employee constitutes a larger part of your overall workforce. Successful businesses will understand this and respond by increasing the amount of freedom and personal autonomy their employees feel. In part, this encourages individuals to feel truly part of the business – enabling them to make more decisions and exert more influence. But it also ensures there are fewer obstacles to flexibility. 


For hospitality businesses, this will also improve the customer experience. Rather than constantly having to defer to an authority, individuals will be given the power to respond to queries, fix problems and generally engage with their customers organically and directly. It also means management doesn’t waste time micromanaging their workers.

Introduce Technology

Technology has played an enormous role in most employees’ lives over the last 18 months. It is time for businesses to properly acknowledge this and introduce more technology into their operational model. While hospitality businesses typically use a number of technologies – from payment solutions to rota-sharing apps – it has usually been introduced in a haphazard way over an extended period of time. 


Embracing technology full-tilt now is a great way to increase flexibility and ensure your staff are happy. There are also huge gains to be made on a purely business level: The average cost saving achieved by implementing a Supplier Management solution is 12%.


How to achieve the 5 steps

Download the full eBook to uncover the best ways to achieve the most from your short-staffed team…