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Top 3 reasons staff are leaving the hospitality industry

And how to identify the warning signs in your brigade



External factors that lead to the mass departure

The doors are open, the kitchen fires are lit and the sign out front is turned to open. Demand for dinning out by the UK public has swelled since restrictions were lifted, getting customers might not be the problem right now but keeping the staff you have is.

In October last year the UK Labour survey found that “1.2 million people moved jobs in the period from July to September, while a survey of 6,000 workers by Randstad found that 69% felt confident enough to move into a new role in the coming months.”[1] The story all over is that many people are feeling a lot less connected with their places of employment.

Hospitality specifically was affected by a combination of the pandemic and Brexit complications. These complications have highlighted an increasing need to alter handling and perception of employees in this industry as “Figures suggest more than one in 10 UK hospitality workers left the industry in the last year.”[2]


The 3 main reasons staff are leaving the hospitality industry

The hospitality industry had, up until now, largely avoided the shift from employer to employee having the job bargaining power until the pandemic provided the perfect catalyst. This long period of job instability and furlough giving employees time to evaluate their lives uninterrupted. Plus the compounding issue of UK’s exit from the EU muddling the hiring process of foreign or seasonal hires, Restaurant employers now really need to understand and address the undesirable aspects of the industry.

So what are the 3 major reasons staff are leaving to find roles elsewhere:

  1. Stress - Remains the biggest obstacle for brigades to overcome with “74% of chefs have called in sick to work due to stress”[3] and the latest TUC survey claiming that “70% of workers listed ‘stress’ as the biggest worry they face, followed by bullying and harassment (48%) and overwork (35%).”[4]

  2. Compensation – A survey by Deliveroo revealed that “90% of restaurants have said they have raised wages to attract new talent”[5]. Particularly when the demand for talent is so severe, better compensation or pay related benefits is often cited as the reason that, particularly for those who are the millennial generation or older, an employee switches job.

  3. Work-life balance – Burnout and working long unsociable hours is a real issue that is tough to find an easy fix in this line of work. Tribune Magazine writes that to understand the high levels of resignation “means taking seriously the increasingly stagnant economy: burnout, concern for health, an overall lack of workplace support”[6] Many employees have moved into entirely different industries to pursue a more consistent care from employers wellbeing on this factor. This often has a knock on effect to mental health too with “well over a third of chefs (37%) said the working culture of being a chef, which often includes long, antisocial hours, was a significant contributing factor to their stress levels.”[7]

How to recognise falling staff engagement / satisfaction

As an employer, mentor or any management position you need to be proactive about retaining the talent you currently have. In addition to ensuring that there is a regular flow of open dialogue between the brigade and you to identify the concerns, there should also be great care taken in ensuring that staff are not showing these signs of falling engagement and job satisfaction:

  • Rising levels of absenteeism

  • Fall in productivity and creativity

  • Poor communication with team and leaders

  • Visible boredom and low energy

  • Saying they are stressed or noticeable signs that they are overworked

  • Sudden increase in complaints about managers, establishment or operational practices.

In the global pandemic’s wake, many staff members are stressed, burned out, looking for the stability better pay brings plus a job that can allow them flexibility to balance their work and private life. Many of these changes are not so easily or effectively achieved in the short term especially if it is to change the image problem the industry has. Brigades in the meantime need to be proactive and vigilant to ensure they keep the talent they currently possess.

[1] https://tribunemag.co.uk/2022/01/hospitality-work-unionisation-macmerry-great-resignation-covid [2] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-57241370 [3] Nestle Professional ® and CHEF ®, At Boiling point’ survey of 102 UK-based chefs. 2019. [4] TUC, Union and Safety reps Survey, 2020-2021 [5] https://www.thecaterer.com/news/deliveroo-restaurants-staff-shortages-supply-chain-survey [6] https://tribunemag.co.uk/2022/01/hospitality-work-unionisation-macmerry-great-resignation-covid [7] Nestle Professional ® and CHEF ®, At Boiling point’ survey of 102 UK-based chefs. 2019.

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