Industry Update
Press Release22 July 2021

HVS Webinar Recap: Recruitment, retention and effective management become crucial for post-COVID hotel sector

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The ability of hotel companies in the UK and Europe to attract and retain staff has never been more crucial as a combination of new immigration policies making it more difficult to employ foreign workers and the on-going impact of COVID continue to threaten staffing levels.

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Bird & Bird’s Stephanie Creed outlined the loss of some 355,000 paid employees during the pandemic, 75% of whom were under the age of 35 - the sector’s “emerging talent”. Quoting figures from UKHospitality, Creed said the sector is estimated to have around 188,000 vacancies at any one time over the next year with employees forced to manage on 20% less staff because of the shortfall, pushing salaries up by around 20%.

Creed outlined many of the problematic legal issues the industry faces post-COVID including re-opening safely while protecting staff and minimising legal risk, avoiding falling foul of GDPR with the rising level of data handling and dealing with the number of absences and the tensions that may emerge between staff.

“The pandemic has changed the way we work and this presents challenges to the sector as the majority of staff cannot work at home so therefore health and safety issues are a concern. Operators must also manage a resistance amongst staff to coming back to the workplace as well as an importance to be visible in terms of health and safety and an openness about what you are doing to protect employees,” she said.

Creed advised employers to plan ahead to manage inevitable absences, as hospitality teams are particularly vulnerable to being "pinged" by the NHS COVID tracking app with instructions to self-isolate at home after contact with a confirmed case. Employers should also consider the legal implications of some of the data management issues emerging from technical solutions that emerged during the pandemic.

HVS chairman Russell Kett moderated a panel of six experts with all calling for a renewed urgency for the industry to collectively promote hotel careers more effectively and for operators to offer clear career development pathways. Donald Sloan, chair of the Oxford Cultural Collective said the pandemic had amplified and accelerated challenges the sector had already been facing, in particular the issue of staffing.

Jane O’Riordan, special adviser at AlixPartners, homed in on the importance of labour fluidity and the ability of existing employees to be flexible in their jobs, by taking on new roles or retraining to fill skills gaps. The Lancaster Hotel London’s GM Sally Beck advocated the advantages of stronger links with colleges, while for Felicity Black-Roberts, VP acquisitions at Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, the importance of people to the business was the key lesson learnt over the past 18 months.

Concluding the session Andrew Robb, CFO of RBH Hospitality Management, urged operators not to go back to what they did before the pandemic, while Donald Sloan said employers must be creative, resilient and authentic. “Focus on quality. Stand out from the crowd - produce an outstanding product and an outstanding experience,” he advised.

You can watch a full recording of the event below, and download the presentation by clicking here.

About HVS

HVS is the world's leading consulting and valuation services organization focused on the hotel, restaurant, shared ownership, gaming, and leisure industries. Established in 1980, the company performs more than 4,500 assignments per year for virtually every major industry participant. HVS principals are regarded as the leading professionals in their respective regions of the globe. Through a worldwide network of over 50 offices staffed by 300 experienced industry professionals, HVS provides an unparalleled range of complementary services for the hospitality industry. For further information regarding our expertise and specifics about our services, please visit www.hvs.com.

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