Read our top tips on how to navigate through the current labour shortage crisis and find great people that help you to win at on-demand delivery.

As we draw closer to Christmas – a peak time for any business operating across the on-demand delivery and hospitality sectors, for many business owners, the race is on to fill current staff vacancies.

Following the events of the past 18 months, it’s become apparent that catering and hospitality are amongst sectors, experiencing the biggest pressures surrounding staff shortages at the moment.

If we rewind back to pre-COVID times, we know that this isn’t an entirely new issue for the catering and on-demand delivery industry.

In a very short space of time, the employment market has been flipped on its head. Vacancies are at an all-time high and we’ve shifted from being an employer’s market to very much being an employee’s market.

The battle to hire and retain staff is ever-pressing and something that many businesses are experiencing. Anyone working in catering, on-demand delivery and hospitality will be all too familiar with this.

But, here at the, we’re all about finding solutions to problems. So, in proper FODD-fashion, based on tried and tested experiences, we’re here to offer some helpful hints and advice for those managing recruitment across on-demand delivery, catering and hospitality at this current time.


Getting to the root of the recruitment problem

To truly understand how to overcome problems associated with the recruitment crisis, we have to be aware of where and why these problems have arisen by taking a closer look at what’s actually going on across the industry.

waiting staff

High staff turnover percentage

You see, compared to many industry sectors, catering, hospitality and on-demand delivery has always had a high staff turnover percentage. And the reason why?

Naturally, many roles cater for those looking for temporary employment or seasonal work. Stats from a 2019 – pre-covid report from UK Hospitality revealed that whilst 44% of people working in hospitality said that it was their main occupation, 38% said they worked within the industry while in education and a further 15% said that it was a second or third job.

Therefore, many of the people working across the sector treat their role as a temporary position, rather than a career prospect.

We also know that many jobs in hospitality involve unsociable working hours. Due to the nature of the service provided, there are a lot of late nights, weekends and long shifts.

And, to contribute to this, many jobs and positions have lower pay benefits, so it’s not surprising that employees seek more sustainable employment options that work to meet their lifestyles, career prospects and family and financial commitments.

It’s also reported that unclear job expectations can be a significant factor that can contribute to high staff turnover.

Lost confidence in the sector

We know that hospitality was one of many sectors that took quite a hit when the country went into lockdowns and had to work with a range of unfamiliar restrictions surrounding social distancing, opening hours and operations.

On-demand delivery became a key survival tactic throughout unprecedented times. It was a way of continuing to serve customers, and keep loyal staff in employment. Many venues that’d previously not offered on-demand delivery services prior to the pandemic now value delivery as a core revenue stream and profit booster for their business model.

However, there was also a large majority of those working across the sector who were put onto the furlough scheme.

This helped to keep people in jobs, and whilst many of these people have now returned to work, stats from the ONS show that confidence in business survival in the hospitality sector still remains below the all-sector level.

There have also been times of staff shortages, where many employees within a venue have contracted COVID-19. As a result, some venues have been forced to temporarily close until their workforce has been well enough to return to work again. This, too, is likely to put many off of becoming part of a catering or hospitality team.

Person in cafe wearing a mask

Shrinking labour pool

The on-demand delivery and hospitality industry relies upon a diverse skill set. From front-of-house customer-facing roles such as bar and waiting staff, delivery teams and qualified chefs and kitchen staff through to marketing, HR and accounting departments, there are lots of different experience levels and experts required across full-scale hospitality or on-demand delivery business.

As soon as there’s a shortage within one of these departments, the inner workings of a business, or the vital cogs, stop turning and pressure begins to amount. We know that the hospitality industry is currently facing a chef-shortage crisis, and as a result, it’s a battle to fill these vacancies. There are far fewer chef apprentices and fewer full-time chefs as a result of many leaving the profession.

Some identify this issue as being a result of Brexit, and others simply believe it’s because there is a lack of opportunities for career progression. But one thing is for sure, is that something has to change in order to solve these problems.

Key industry figureheads and experts, including Michelin Star and TV chef Tom Kerridge, are working to change the perceptions of what a career in hospitality truly means, highlighting the long-term career prospects of working in the industry.

chef in kitchen

Shifting from a problem to problem-solving

In order to truly work towards negating the issues surrounding the current hospitality labour crisis, we’ve got to factor these things in. They simply cannot be ignored.

Looking at the bigger picture, and what hospitality and on-demand delivery means to people is key.

Businesses have a collective responsibility to build back that trust across this employment sector and ensure that their job roles truly appeal to prospective employers.

The recruitment process is a vital part of this.

Be one step ahead of the curve

We know that the catering and hospitality industry has a high turnover percentage. Throughout the course of a year, it’s very normal to see staff coming and going, particularly when students return or leave full-time education or when seasonal staff leave. If we know this happens, we can be prepared and work to avoid issues surrounding staff shortages.

Running a catering or hospitality business at short staff levels can be catastrophic to your business. When employees become overworked because there’s not enough staff to fulfil the hours or requirements of the business, they’ll quickly become disgruntled and you’ll find yourself in a vicious circle of having to advertise and recruit more staff.

And this is far from ideal – because not only does recruiting new employees take valuable time, but actually, more importantly, you want your employees to feel valued and enjoy positive experiences of the workplace.

You have a responsibility to look after your teams, and that means providing them with enough manpower and human resources to share the workload.

Therefore, in reality, recruitment and retention should be of constant focus. Be prepared, and stay one step ahead of the curve.

takeaway food in packaging

Job advertising

The majority of vacancies are filled via the same process; a job is posted on a job’s board, such as Indeed or Reed.

Interested applicants can submit their CVs to you as the employer, which you’ll then proceed to review. You whittle down the applications and carry out an interview process to select the most relevant candidate for the position.

This is a vital part of the process of finding the right people for your business. And equally, from a job seekers perspective, it’s a selective phase of finding the right opportunity that works to match their interests and requirements.

In such a competitive employment market, we feel it’s so important to get this stage right.

coffee shop waiting staff

Using job advertising platforms

One of the quickest, easiest and cheapest ways to run a recruitment drive is via online job advertising platforms, such as Indeed. Here at the and EIGHT Concepts, we frequently use Indeed as a tool for searching and finding talent for our KBOX on-demand delivery venture and restaurant, Flip and Dip.

As we have been using the platform more and more, we’ve realised that we don’t necessarily need to spend money on sponsored jobs to find the right people.

In fact, it comes down to the detail and effort you put into your job ads.

Broaden your reach

Whilst we are commonly looking for front-of-house, bar and kitchen staff, we have come to realise that often our jobs may appeal to those who have never worked in hospitality or on-demand before.

For us, we’ve recognized that often it’s more about the attitude and personality traits of an individual than prior experience in catering or hospitality.

We have found that changing our title from time to time makes our roles easier to find by a wider diversity of people including those who had previously never considered a job with our sector.

Sell your business, sell your role

When advertising a job vacancy within your business, it is common to list your candidate requirements, responsibilities and desirable characteristics. These are all core components of most job ads.

But to really stand out, you actually need to make the effort to sell your business.

You see, in order to find the right candidates, you’ve got to stand out as a business that is desirable to work for.

It kind of works in the same way as you’d engage with new and existing customers. You’ve got to start the relationship by telling people who you are, what you’re about and what the benefits are of being an employee of your company.

Tell people why you’re great and really make the effort to sell your business and the role available.

You want people to think ‘you know what, they sound like a great company to work for’, even before you go into the details of what’s required of the role.

By leading the job ad with an introduction to your business, you give candidates the chance to understand the types of people that you’re looking for, as well as giving them the chance to get to know your business. This then creates a natural flow into the core job description and what you’re looking for.

Don’t forget to list any financial and social benefits of working for your company and your rate of pay.

No one wants to work for free, and job ads without an indication of pay rate perform poorly compared to those who let candidates know how much they’ll be paid for their time and efforts.

Set a task

Quite often, you’ll receive tons of applications that need to be sieved through, reviewed and organised.

Anyone who has ever done this will know that this can be a time-intensive process, but it’s important to get it right.

Looking for a way to save time and distinguish between those who have read the job description and those who haven’t? Set a small task.

This could be as simple as a covering letter, outlining reasons why the candidate feels they’d be a great match for the role. Or, you could ask applicants to provide some examples of when they provided great customer service.

Try and make it specific to the role and the requirements you’re looking for. It shouldn’t be something that takes hours to complete, rather a small task that compliments the candidates’ application.

When sorting through applications, you’ll quite quickly be able to identify those who have read the description and have a genuine interest in joining your team apart from those who haven’t taken the time and effort to complete the application properly.

job application revision process in hospitality

The hiring process

Once you’ve selected a list of successful applicants, you can then start to consider who you’d like to interview.

But, just as you send out those interview invitations, it’s equally as important to get in contact with those who have been unsuccessful.

Applying for jobs is a delicate process for many.

All too often, people apply for positions and never hear back from the employer. This can be very frustrating, and often, this puts people off of applying to those businesses’ roles in the future.

Take time to respond

It’s really important to consider that every single applicant, successful or not, is also a potential customer. Therefore, how you handle applicant feedback can really affect your business’s overall reputation and identity.

From our experiences, we think it’s important to take the time to respond to each applicant – acknowledging and thanking them for the time they took in applying for the vacancy.

And for those who you interview and are unsuccessful, provide some level of feedback.

Trial shifts

We know that in the hospitality and catering industry, one of the biggest reasons for high staff turnover is unclear job expectations. However, as an employer, you have a responsibility to ensure that you are open and honest about the job role for which you are advertising.

In the on-demand delivery and hospitality industry, trial shifts are a highly effective way to ensure that you find the right people for the job.

But by the same token, it offers new employees the opportunity to come and see what you’re all about and find out if you’re the right employer for them.

We’re talking about building open and transparent relationships with employees from the get-go.

On a trial shift, employees can get to know more about your business, your people and the requirements of their new job role. It offers another chance for you to interview them in action, whilst allowing them to interview you.

However, the key thing to remember about trial shifts is that you’re asking someone to give up their time unpaid.

Here at the, we’re not overly keen on the idea of someone giving up their time for free. We’ve also recognised how the idea of ‘free work’ can be off-putting to candidates.

So, following a fantastic concept set out by the likes of Wagamama, we’re going to start offering our Flip and Dip trial shift candidates a voucher to spend within our restaurant, whether they choose to accept the new position or not.

It’s important to thank people for their time, and ensure that they feel appreciated throughout the entire process.

chef in restaurant pointing

Appraisals and growth plans

There is a common misconception that on-demand delivery and hospitality roles offer minimal professional growth and career opportunities.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Whilst many individuals start out in hospitality when they are young, as a stopgap to earning money to save, travel, for education or to buy a house, with ambitions to do other things outside of the industry, there are also other people who may be looking for something longer-term with the ambition to pursue a career in hospitality, catering or on-demand delivery.

As an employer, it’s important to recognise this and realise that not everyone is looking for just seasonal or part-time work. It’s essential to complement and recognise employee loyalty, ambition and commitment and open up opportunities for progression and growth where possible.

And, with the on-demand delivery sector experiencing rapid growth, we need a wider diversity of talented people to join the industry. Careers across hospitality and catering will be a key driver for this.

Appraisals, training and development plans are great things to consider for all employees, enabling more and more people to consider long-term jobs within the industry.

two people having a meeting

Our top tips for hospitality recruitment in summary:

  • Stay ahead: Keep recruitment and retention as a constant focus
  • Free job advertising platforms: Make use of employment platforms such as Indeed
  • Sell your role to stand out: Write winning job advertisements that sell your business and your vacancies
  • Look further: Broaden your candidate pool by making your job advert appealing to those who are interested in other industries
  • Application tasks: Ask candidates to complete a small task to save time and to support your decision-making process
  • Reply to all: Respond and/or give feedback to every single applicant – successful or not
  • Allow candidates to interview you: Use trial shifts as a way to get to know your candidates better, and to enable them to get to know your business and the requirements of the role
  • Nobody works for free: Reward all trial-shift candidates with a gift or money-off voucher for their time and efforts
  • Encourage and support: Highlight opportunities for career progression and support those who want to progress and pursue a career in on-demand delivery, catering or hospitality.

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Last Updated: December 2nd, 2021 / Categories: Delivery, Inspiration /