Labour shortages remain an enormous challenge for the hospitality sector—with no sign of letting up. 

But why?

Why does this crisis persist in an industry so pivotal to the global economy?

And more importantly, what strategies can you put in place to tackle it?

If you’re not sure, don’t worry. We’re here to take a closer look at how we got into this situation, and explore strategic responses and solutions to overcome labour shortages. 

How did we get here with labour shortages? 

Why exactly is the hospitality industry facing such persistent labour shortages? 

Here are a few critical factors:

  • The aftermath of covid: The pandemic has left a lasting impact, pushing many to reconsider their career paths away from the uncertainties of hospitality.
  • The Brexit Effect: Exiting the EU has tightened the pool of workers, traditionally filled by those from member states, leaving UK hospitality businesses scrambling.
  • Visa Changes adding to the strain: The leap in minimum salary requirements for skilled worker visas is another hurdle, potentially deterring the international talent pool.
  • General reluctance to work in hospitality: Beyond these factors, the sector battles inherent issues deterring potential employees. Low wages, coupled with long, unsociable working hours, make hospitality roles less attractive compared to other industries. This general reluctance to engage with hospitality work compounds the challenge of filling vacancies.

What Can We Do About It?

In facing the labour shortages, it’s crucial to identify actionable strategies that can make a difference, ASAP!

So, how do we tackle this? Let’s break it down:

Innovate in recruitment and make your workplace appealing:

Innovative recruitment and compelling offerings are your first port of call. Get creative with how and where you look for your next team member and make sure what you’re offering stands out from the crowd.

  • Use social media for recruitment: Leverage platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook to showcase your company culture and job openings. Highlight employee testimonials, behind-the-scenes content, and unique benefits your business offers.
  • Offer referral bonuses: Encourage current employees to refer friends or acquaintances for open positions by offering bonuses or incentives for successful hire
  • Highlight career advancement and supportive work environment: Emphasise the growth opportunities and supportive culture within your organisation. Showcasing these aspects can significantly impact attracting candidates who value professional development and a positive workplace atmosphere.

Building from within for lasting loyalty

Creating a positive and inclusive workplace culture is essential. Investing in the professional development of your staff not only enhances their skills but also their loyalty to your brand. 

Recognise and reward hard work = improved retention

To foster a positive culture and invest in team growth:

  • Continuous training: Implement regular training sessions not just for job-specific skills but also for leadership, customer service excellence, and other areas that contribute to personal and professional development.
  • Employee recognition programs: Create programs to recognize and reward employees for their hard work, such as Employee of the Month, service anniversary awards, or spot bonuses for exceptional service.
  • Career pathways: Clearly outline career progression opportunities within your organisation. Offer mentorship programs or career planning sessions to help employees visualise their future with your company.

Embracing adaptability in operations 

Operational flexibility and technological advancements can streamline processes, making the workload more manageable for your staff. This, in turn, can improve job satisfaction and efficiency, making your business more appealing to both current and potential employees.

As you look to hire Gen Z—a group expecting high operational efficiency and tech use—it’s vital to adapt your practices to meet these demands and secure this crucial demographic.

To thrive despite staff shortages by utilising technology and revising business models:

  • Rethink service models: Consider adjusting your service model to better fit your staffing levels. This could mean simplifying your menu, introducing counter service, or expanding takeaway and delivery options.
  • Flexible work arrangements: Offer flexible scheduling to accommodate employee needs, making your workplace more attractive to those seeking work-life balance.
  • Implement efficient tech solutions: Adopt technology that streamlines operations, such as digital ordering systems, scheduling software, and inventory management tools, to reduce the manual workload on your staff.
    • 💡 Nory offers a comprehensive workforce management solution that streamlines the onboarding process, engages employees, and rewards their contributions effectively. With Nory, you can:
      • Seamlessly onboard, engage, and reward your team: Simplify the onboarding process and foster ongoing engagement and recognition for your staff’s hard work.
      • Elevate people operations: Nory provides robust insights into your team’s performance and needs. Its mobile-first approach to entitlement tracking, payroll, shift swaps, and time-off requests ensures that managing your workforce is as efficient and user-friendly as possible. Nory is designed to ensure your business equips your team with the best experience and tools available, enhancing overall satisfaction and productivity.

Navigating regulatory changes proactively

Given the changing of visa regulations, you have to explore all available avenues to maintain a diverse workforce. This might include advocating for policy changes that better reflect the needs of the hospitality sector or finding innovative ways to attract and retain domestic workers.

But it’s not just visas. For example, hospitality leaders are calling on the UK government to reduce VAT rates in order to ease the huge financial pressures that businesses are facing. 

What can you do?

  • Stay informed: Regularly update yourself and your HR team on the latest regulation changes. Use official government resources and legal advisories to ensure compliance and identify opportunities.
  • Explore alternative visa categories: Investigate different visa options that may be applicable to existing and potential employees, such as youth mobility schemes, temporary worker visas, or sector-specific visas that may have different requirements.
  • Engage with policy makers: Be part of industry groups that lobby for more favourable policies for the hospitality sector. Share your experiences and challenges with policy makers to advocate for changes that support the industry.

By implementing these strategies, hospitality businesses can address labour shortages more effectively, creating a robust, satisfied, and loyal workforce ready to deliver exceptional service to your customers.


The journey to overcoming labour shortages in hospitality is multifaceted. It requires engagement on multiple fronts: from innovative recruitment and retention strategies to lobbying for supportive policies and adapting to the ever-evolving landscape of the industry. 

With concerted effort, creativity, and resilience, the hospitality sector can navigate these challenges, building a stronger, more vibrant future for all its stakeholders.

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