Struggling to find waiting and bar staff?


If you’re currently facing issues around recruitment and retention of staff in your bar, restaurant or inn, then you’re not alone. In this blog we explore some of the reasons behind hospitality staffing shortages and then put forward our top 5 recommendations for addressing the problem.

Introduction: The Why

Uncertainty is a word that has been synonymous with large swathes of the UK’s on-trade hospitality sector since the pandemic started way back in early 2020. 

  • Uncertainty around financial aid and government support. 
  • Uncertainty around reopening guidelines, staff and customer safety. 
  • Uncertainty around the roadmap and exact dates for re-opening. 
  • Uncertainty around the impact of Brexit and travel restrictions.
  • Uncertainty around future customer demand and trading volumes after re-opening. 

One huge knock-on effect of all of this uncertainty is a staffing crisis. Recruitment site Caterer.com point to the double-whammy of the pandemic and Brexit. Many former hospitality workers have found alternative employment and many foreign workers have left the UK altogether. Regardless of the exact reasons, there can be no doubt there is a shortage. UK Hospitality estimates there to be a shortfall of c.188,000 workers!

Clearly venue owners are having to get creative to compete for and retain staff in an increasingly competitive labour pool. Below are our top recommendations for helping to solve this problem for your venue.

The Solution: Top 5 ways to address the challenge of staff shortages:

1. Switch to mobile order and pay

Yes that might seem a bold statement but we have proof from our venue partners that switching to ServedUp Mobile Order and Pay has help to alleviate staffing challenges by;

  • Reducing the number of staff needed to serve the same number of people
  • Improving staff efficiency and reducing errors
  • Increasing spend per head

“Switching to an order to table solution has been phenomenal, we have completely moved away from cash which is no longer a security concern for us, and have decreased the number of staff we need on per shift, which is a big help with the hospitality shortage at the moment." Gavin Williams, Co-owner and Director, Allotment Bars. Read more here 

2. Improve remuneration packages by increasing tips

Simply put - we are now in a job-seekers market. With staff in high-demand, many hospitality workers are receiving offers of employment elsewhere and staff-poaching is on the rise. By boosting your remuneration package you have a better chance of attracting and retaining the best talent.

One sure-fire way to improve your remuneration offering is to help increase tips for your staff. Plus there is no downside or negative effect on your payroll costs. 

If you’ve previously retained a percentage of tips you should consider switching to an “All tips go directly to staff” policy and make this clear as part of your checkout process.

ServedUp mobile order to table has been shown to drastically increase the amount of tips for staff. We see on average a 25 to 50% spike in the amount of tips for the simple reason that tipping is as effortless as the order process. Tipping happens with every order (payment is taken at the time of each order). There is also an increase in order volume as there is a reduction in wait times.

3. Consider joining the Kickstart Scheme

The Kickstart Scheme has been launched by the UK government to create a number of new 6-month job placements for young people who are currently on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. 

It supports young people to develop new skills which will help them move into sustained employment after the placement.

Employers of all sizes can apply for funding which covers:

  • 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or National Living Wage depending on the age of the participant) for 25 hours per week for a total of 6 months.
  • Associated employer National Insurance contributions
  • Employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions.

UK Hospitality has a great video and presentation here with further details. 

4. Focus on employee benefits 

Let’s face it - the hospitality industry hasn’t always been a shining light when it comes to employee benefits and rewards. But this needs to change if you want to attract the attention of a shrinking pool of talent. By building a great employee benefit programme you can stand out from the crowd of other venues also hiring. 

What staff perks could you be offering (and including in your next job description) to show that you are serious about building a great employment experience and that you really care about your staff? 

This could be anything from offering free uniforms and staff meals all the way to providing travel, gym membership, financial wellbeing and mental health related perks. 

Setting up an employee benefits programme need not be a very time-consuming or expensive exercise. There are amazing platforms out there that have done all of the heavy lifting, like Perkbox & Reward Gateway

5. Offer recruitment bonuses

Restaurant group Hawksmoor is offering bonuses of up to £2,000 to workers who recommend friends for jobs in a bid to fill staffing shortages. Not everyone can afford such a bonus but it shows how far some venues are willing to go to address this problem. What recruitment bonus can you offer? Is this a pure cash reward or are there other innovative incentives you can introduce to keep your job application process humming?

Ready to explore how mobile order to table can play a part in addressing your staff shortages? 

We’re not saying that switching to ServedUp will resolve all recruitment issues - but it can certainly help your staff deliver at an increased capacity with less effort. If you haven’t yet made the switch to mobile ordering, click here to find out why ServedUp could be just what you’re looking for.

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