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2019 will be year of sustainability – especially of talent, says The Change Group

The Change Group is predicting 2019 will be a year when the hospitality industry will focus on sustainability on all levels, commercial, ethical and environmental as the key strategy for success.

Brexit will continue to impact the hospitality sector far beyond the end of March and Change foresees a further reduction in registrations from Europe leading to an increased war for talent. In addition, it is likely that there will be further clamp down on employees working illegally or without the correct documentation following Brexit. To avoid this, businesses should ensure they use recruitment channels that qualify candidates correctly, ensuring they are legally able to work in the UK, have their up to date health and safety documentation and are reference checked.

With UK chef numbers down by 17% in 2018 on the previous year (Office of National Statistics) 2018 and a 16% drop in candidate registrations from Europe (Change Group data), ‘talent sustainability’ will emerge as a key strategy for British hospitality establishments. 

This will mean the hospitality sector will need to fine tune recruitment, development and retention strategies with a long-term view. Across the board salary increases are inevitable given the low level of supply and further phased increases in the National Minimum Wage until April 2020. There will continue to be a shift to make working hours more flexible and less onerous, especially for working parents.

Programmes that encourage more Britons to work in hospitality will gain momentum, such as apprenticeship schemes, formal training in both higher and further education and initiatives led by third sector organisations such as the Prince’s Trust. 

Businesses will focus on employee wellness and welfare at work to create a stronger working culture. This will mean expanding traditional benefits packages to appeal to employees at different life stages in terms of support and flexibility. This will include addressing the specific needs those suffering from mental health issues as well as better work/life balance for working parents.

Following a number of years when hospitality recruitment has been often focused on plugging gaps in the workforce, businesses will be looking to recruit for the long term. This will mean they will look for employees who are a good cultural fit with the business. A rising gig economy will continue to pose challenges for establishments trying to reduce the role of temps within the workforce where possible to promote stability.

Ethical and environmental sustainability will continue to affect the hospitality sector with greater consumer awareness of animal welfare and the environmental impact of meat. This will mean more vegetarian and vegan openings and a greater focus on gastronomic vegetarian and vegan cuisine. Restaurants will also continue to consider their environmental impact in turns of recycling, sourcing of ingredients and use of plastics. In turn, these will have an impact on how the hospitality sector recruits and develops a team that reflects these growing consumer concerns as well as further legislation clamping down on the use of plastics and promoting great re-usability.

“Over the past 12 months, the hospitality sector has shown it can adapt, innovate and succeed,” said Craig Allen, founder and director of The Change Group. “The next 12 months will continue to pose challenges, especially around Brexit and growing pressures as a result of tough trading conditions. Going into 2019, the sector is in a good place to respond to emerging challenges and remain one of the UK’s great business success stories.

“Brexit has largely not affected Britain’s reputation as a key tourist destination for the rest of the world, and Britons are also choosing to spend their holidays in the UK, which means that there is still plenty of demand. While there has been enormous shakeout and regrettably, many establishments have closed, there are many success stories and there are examples of restaurants thriving at every level, from more affordable fine dining to high end gastronomy. 

“I believe that restaurants that focus on talent sustainability will do well in 2019 and beyond. A key part of this will be to get the right salary levels and think more broadly about employee welfare and wellness at work. Brands that show they care for employees and make it easier for those with a family or young children to continue working, will do better at attracting the best talent.

“While demand continues, consumers will be even more selective and want an even better deal from restaurants that reflect their values in terms of ethics and sustainability. The vegetarian and vegan revolution will grow in pace as concerned consumers choose healthier options. Consumers will also want to see restaurants reducing their environmental impact in terms of how businesses use and recycle resources. 

“Recruitment and development will need to reflect this consumer agenda, and show that the hospitality industry is listening to what people want.” 

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