Can Technology Help to Solve the Current Problems with Hospitality Staffing?

According to the trade body UKHospitality, there is currently a vacancy rate of 11% across the British hospitality sector. And while the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports a slight decrease in vacancies in the early part of 2023, the numbers are still 48% higher than they were pre-pandemic. And this is causing a range of problems throughout the sector, with some restaurants, pubs, and cafes closing early, or closing completely on certain days. And others reducing the number of covers they are able to accept. The challenges being faced are affecting both back and front of house, with poor recruitment and high employee churn creating a near-perfect storm across the country. And leaving owners and managers at a loss as to how to address the problem. 

Although not a silver bullet, technology could help to provide the answer, delivering solutions to both maximise the potential of the available workforce and enhance employee engagement. Creating a scenario where existing employees are more motivated, productive, and loyal, and businesses are able to achieve more with less. 

Using technology to improve staff scheduling 

Scheduling is an issue that never ceases to be a problem across sectors. Managers hate doing it and employees become frustrated with the results. But when you use a decentralised AI system, company efficiency takes precedence over employee satisfaction and convenience, removing all personalisation and feeding employee alienation, which inevitably leads to churn. But there are ways to combat these issues. 

With open shift management software, hospitality businesses can benefit from the ease of a decentralised system while giving employees the tools they need to take control of their own schedules. If a shift doesn’t suit them, they have the power to swap with a colleague without the need to go through management. If they have extra time, they can mark down their availability for extra shifts and holiday cover. Helping to close rota gaps, removing the strain on hospitality businesses, while improving their own sense of autonomy and job satisfaction. 

And with open-shift marketplace tech, this can work across the branches of a business. Enabling any employees who are willing and able, to take on extra shifts in other branches or in sister companies. While the business benefits from an enhanced talent pool, gaining access to a host of trained and vetted employees from other locations, rather than treating each branch as an island with limited resources. 

Enhancing employee engagement through improved communication

Employee disengagement is a key driver of attrition. A 2022 Gallup study reported that disengaged employees are 2.6 times more likely to seek new employment opportunities than those who feel absorbed by their work. And while there is no single issue that causes employees to become disengaged, poor communication is widely believed to be a strong influencing factor. 

The problem is that communication has always been difficult to manage in a frontline workforce. In hospitality, shift patterns are often staggered, and team briefings are usually rushed and often on the hoof. And in many cases, any information from head office is left on the notice board for general perusal. Meaning that information is missed, team members feel detached and undervalued, and the business is left to struggle as those disengaged workers move on to another position where they’ll probably face the same scenario. 

With technology, two-way communication across levels can be simplified. Enabling not only the easy communication of shift changes and holiday approval, but also training opportunities, promotions, employee grievances, and congratulations. Providing every single employee with a voice, regardless of their standing within the business hierarchy. This not only improves operational efficiency but also helps team members to feel as if they matter and are an important part of the business – rather than the overlooked afterthought that they may otherwise feel. 

Using technology to open the door to employee opportunities

An equally important part of employee engagement is opportunity. It’s been recognised for years now that where there is a lack of career development, employee attrition is higher. In fact, for around half of the workforce, career development opportunities are a significant factor in deciding loyalty. And if employees feel that they cannot improve themselves through working at their current business, they are much more likely to move somewhere else.

When you implement company-wide communication technology, you can deliver personalised training opportunities directly to the individual. Allowing those who want to, develop their own career, at their own pace. This not only enhances employee engagement and a sense of value but provides the business with the talent it needs to grow. 

This same technology can also support improved company culture, through comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) training. Preventing discrimination and enhancing customer service through broad representation and understanding. 

Technology can’t fix all of the problems that the hospitality industry is currently experiencing. But empowering the frontline workforce and generating positivity, can help to address some of the most pressing issues. Because when employees are happier and feel more valued, they are more likely to stay loyal.