How can H&L sector employers boost recruitment during times of worker shortages?

holiday and leisure graphic

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the forced lockdowns and multiple restrictions, there is no doubt that the hospitality and leisure sector has suffered tremendously, with one of the largest problems lying in recruitment. According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), an estimated 300,000 workers have left the sector since March 2020, leaving critical gaps that are proving hard to fill. So, what can employers do to successfully attract and recruit workers in 2022?

Improve employee engagement

Employers should always address worker shortages by looking at ways to improve employee engagement with the business’ brand, culture and ethos. Keeping the workforce well-motivated and engaged is important, as the business’ performance is directly linked to their employees.

Highlight the sector benefits

Many employees during the pandemic left the industry to enter new careers, resulting in a significantly smaller work pool. In order to attract candidates for outstanding vacancies, employers need to focus on highlighting all the benefits a career in hospitality can bring. There have been some recent pushes within the industry to better promote how rewarding the hospitality sector can be as a vocation. For example, Tom Kerridge has produced videos featuring long-serving staff from his restaurant group to improve industry perceptions when looking at long-term career prospects.


Employers must also look for ways to incentivise and motivate employees and communicate this effectively as part of the recruitment process. For example, what kind of benefits can employees expect to receive? Are there any long-term employment rewards on offer? Is there an opportunity for career progression? And will sufficient training be provided?

Not only should employers focus on staff engagement, they should take steps to find out what potential candidates are looking for within a role, whether that’s regular hours, improved pay and benefits, access to cafeteria-style rewards and incentives or even health and wellbeing programmes. Seeking feedback from current as well as potential employees can help employers to gain a better understanding of what staff want. Ideally, this should ideally be obtained during real-time conversations, providing vital insights and tailored input, rather than an annual survey with tick box responses. Utilising this feedback data is key, as this will enable the human resources team to identify any gaps in employee experience, which may need to be addressed.

Streamline the application process

Application processes can be daunting for any prospective employee, therefore employers need to focus on making this process as smooth as possible, this could be through their own website or using an external platform. There are also user-friendly apps, which can allow candidates to use their smartphone to apply to a job role quickly and easily. Making the recruitment process as easy as possible and providing candidates with all the information they need about the role on offer will encourage applications and create a positive first impression of the business.


When a hire has been made, getting employees off to a good start is key, using sufficient training and a warm onboarding process. Pairing this with a simple work schedule and systems that allow workers to track their pay, taxes and pension will help settle employees into their new role and make them feel part of the company. Furthermore, employers should also make sure that each worker knows what the available career path open to them is, with a plan for their individual growth and development. This plan should set out transparent goals and objectives, backed by a timetable of reviews and regular 121s to help keep them on track.

Intense competition for skilled workers, coupled with uncertainty about the potential for further pandemic-related disruption, means employers in the sector may need to find creative approaches to filling vacancies.   

Paint a picture

There are also alternative ways to recruit staff, temporary staffing agencies can be an option, and apprenticeships that offer workers with a real opportunity for career progression can also be an attractive option. Employers can also consider hosting recruitment days, as these can help to show workers what a job in the sector really looks like, while creating an opportunity for them to meet existing staff and look behind the scenes. Existing staff are also important to utilise as they can introduce candidates and share social media posts about jobs on offer.

In summary, even though the sector is in the midst of a staffing crisis, there are many tactics that employers can use to attract and recruit employees. By increasing engagement, understanding what employees are looking for, and making the most of available platforms and resources, they can succeed at recruitment and strengthen staff loyalty in the process.

For more information on how your Hospitality and Leisure business can boost recruitment contact Simon Armstrong below:

Posted in Blog, Hospitality & leisure