How to address post-Covid recruitment in the Hospitality sector - the pandemic and its effect on hospitality

Submitted by Mark on 21st September 2021

How to address post-Covid recruitment in the Hospitality sector, HR, Business, Employment, employees, employer, recruitment

The Coronavirus pandemic has hit the hospitality sector arguably more than any other. Many venues have been forced to permanently close their doors. Others have struggled to keep trading. But now, with lockdowns (hopefully) a thing of the past, pubs, restaurants, bars, hotels and a variety of entertainment venues have reopened.

But – to the consternation of everyone in the industry, a further unforeseen challenge has reared its head. A lack of staff – right across the board. Chefs, front-of-house staff and bar staff.

With restaurants, pubs and cafes now being able to serve customers indoors, thousands of employees are needed to serve them and prepare food for them.

There is a shortfall of almost 200,000 workers. Recruiting is now the number one headache for hospitality owners and managers.

Uncertainty and Brexit

There appear to be two principal reasons for this staff shortage.

1. Uncertainty. People unwilling to enter a sector that might be forced to close down again. 

2. Since Brexit, many hospitality workers from the EU have returned home with little likelihood of returning.

The most fruitful area for hospitality recruiters to ‘go hunting’ seems to be young people. The question is, ‘how to give yourself the best chance of success?

Recruiting Generation Z 

Generation Z are different from their predecessors in that they are more likely to be looking for long term job security and for you to invest in their career development.

Once you have adapted your recruitment policy to attract post-millennial young people to apply for your roles, you need to make sure you are taking on the best people for your roles.

What To Look For In Young Candidates?

Whatever types of hospitality jobs you have on offer, what should you be looking for as your candidates work their way through your application process?

If you’re advertising part-time hospitality jobs for young people, then the interview process might be your only basis for assessing the calibre of the candidates.

For your graduate roles or apprenticeships, other opportunities, such as an open day or an assessment centre, can provide assessment opportunities.

Often, young people don’t have any meaningful work experience to put on their CVs, making your recruitment task even more challenging.

When recruiting young people, what should you look for?


Because of Covid, neither school leavers nor graduates can call on work experience or internships as examples of their reliability.

Interviewers need to be more creative. How can you ask a question that gives the candidate an opportunity to demonstrate their reliability?

Can they give you examples of their reliability from activities they have carried out at home? Perhaps they have been relied upon by parents to help with younger siblings’ home schooling. Or maybe they’ve carried out work for local charities, delivering parcels to those in need.

Is your Candidate a team worker?

Encourage your candidate to think of times at home where they have worked as part of a team. Obviously, if they’ve been a part of school or university teams for sports or other projects, they can draw on this.

Young people are, of course, familiar with online communication, so there could be examples to draw on from here where your candidate might have worked with peers on a virtual project. 

Are they honest?

Clearly, honesty and integrity are critical in all workplaces. In the hospitality sector, however, where money is handled and, in hotels, where young employees might be in a position of accessing guests’ rooms, integrity is a number one priority.

References and, where necessary, a DBS check, can be a good indicator for honesty, but you can also ask your candidate whether they can provide any examples of a situation where they demonstrated their honesty. This could be a situation where they found a purse or wallet full of money and credit cards and made sure it got back to its owner or took it to the police.

Are they comfortable in a diverse workspace?

The hospitality industry lends itself well to diversity within the workplace. The good news is, if you are interviewing candidates who are members of Generation Z, these young people are likely to be attracted to working in a diverse place. They might even ask how you, as a prospective employer, make sure your business is diverse.

Of course, when it comes to the hospitality industry, it’s not just about diversity amongst your team of staff. Hospitality is all about dealing with clients, customers and guests. Excellent communication skills will be necessary for your candidate when dealing with people from various walks of life and of all ages.

Because of the pandemic, bear in mind that young people may have had limited communication with a broad range of people, face to face, for the last year or so. If you offer them the position, some support and training might be needed to help them settle into their role.

Specialist HR advice

Certainly, it’s true that vacancies in the hospitality industry are at record levels. But equally, there are thousands of young people looking for part-time work and full-time careers. Now is a great opportunity to be creative and to dovetail the two sets of circumstances.

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