Hospitality workforce numbers rise but remain well below pre-pandemic levels

By BigHospitality

- Last updated on GMT

Hospitality workforce numbers rise but remain well below pre-pandemic levels

Related tags: Recruitment, Hospitality

The number of people working in hospitality has risen over the past year but the sector is still well behind on employment levels before the pandemic hit, new data has shown.

The number of people working in hospitality in December 2021 was up 18.6% on the same month in 2020, figures from global software provider Fourth show, with the headcount of workers in December 2021 the highest since the summer of 2020, when the Government introduced the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

QSR operations saw the highest year-on-year rise in recruitment levels compared with December 2020, up 27.1%, followed by hotels (26%) and restaurants, (24.5%). Pubs recorded the lowest increase in staffing levels, up 4.4% on the previous year.

Despite the rise, employment numbers remain some distance behind pre-pandemic levels, with the overall hospitality headcount down 14.8% on December 2019. Pubs have been the worst affected, with employment figures down 18.3% on December 2019, followed by hotels (down 15.4%) and restaurants (13.5%). Employment levels in the QSR sector were down 11.2% on two years ago.

As expected with a depleted workforce, the collective hours worked across hospitality have also dropped, down 22.9% on December 2019 but up 112.3% compared to 2020.

However, productivity in December 2021 was much the same as in December 2019, according to Fourth, indicating that businesses are learning to do more with less. It reports that spend per labour hour in December 2021 was £26.41, not far behind the £26.75 of 2019, and a big improvement on the £19.22 of December 2020.

“The re-introduction of work from home guidance, restrictive trading measures and a cautious consumer outlook seriously hampered hospitality’s hopes for a bumper December. As the latest Fourth Hospitality Report clearly shows, there is still some way to go to reach pre-pandemic trading and staffing levels,” says Sebastien Sepierre, managing director, EMEA, at Fourth.

“However, there are encouraging signs, with staff headcounts in all sub-sectors up on this time last year. Hours worked are heading in the right direction and businesses are seeing similar levels of productivity to 2019.

“With COVID measures and restrictions set to be lifted and workers returning to offices, businesses can look forward to better conditions to aid their recovery in 2022. With new recruits required and a New Minimum Wage on the horizon they will need to work on ways to attract and retain talent.”

Related topics: Trends & Reports

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