Prompted by over a year of living with restrictions and working from home, many people have taken the opportunity to take stock and reassess their career ambitions, embarking on new paths, making bold career changes or building their own businesses. The On Premise sector has arguably suffered more than most, with many staff members taking the opportunity to seek alternative careers during the enforced closures of the sector over the past two years.
For operators and suppliers, this has caused a huge challenge across the sector globally. Talk of a generation of bartenders being wiped out is perhaps slightly exaggerated, but certainly not without substance. For suppliers, this means that previous staff training and advocacy programmes have perhaps not delivered the long-term results expected of them. Those individuals with whom investment has been centred may have taken these ideas with them to new careers, resulting in a need for suppliers to devise new initiatives, for example, targeted at new recruits to the sector or at upskilling junior staff members who may now find themselves in more senior positions.
Operators are also having to adapt strategies around recruitment and retention, fiercely contesting for skilled candidates in a jobs market where demand is far outstripping supply, resulting in a significant impact on both costs and revenue. Indeed, CGA’s latest research in the UK market shows that managed operators estimate that they have lost 14% of potential revenue due to staff shortages.
As a result, a need for a greater understanding of the needs of staff has taken precedence for both suppliers and operators in the sector, especially among younger staff members. Recent research by CGA found that 56% of those aged 18 to 24 say they are planning to switch jobs in the next year, so for operators, prioritising values and purpose to align with the needs of these staff members has become increasingly important.
What are these values? Well, for younger hospitality staff, a focus on diversity, minority rights, the environment and mental health support significantly over-index. CGA’s research with those on the front line of the sector also confirms mental health as an area in which staff would like support and education, but in which little exists, perhaps offering an opportunity for suppliers to build advocacy via a training programme which genuinely aligns to the needs of staff in the sector.
There are significant rewards to be had too. Recent research by CGA in Australia highlighted that nearly half of bartenders were more likely to recommend brands from suppliers that they have had training with than those who they have never been approached by. Meanwhile, when asked about the brands that they expected to succeed in the on premise in 2022, the No.1 answer was ‘brands supporting the hospitality sector’, beating the likes of local brands, craft brands and premium brands into the top spot.
But the Big Quit may not all be bad news; indeed, the hospitality sector could also be the beneficiary of far-reaching career changes. For many, a dream of running a bar, or setting up a restaurant business may have become a reality over the long months of the pandemic and the sector may well be injected with a new lease of entrepreneurship and innovation.
Certainly, with multiple outlet closures around the globe and the landscape now looking more balanced in terms of venues and consumers, now would not be a bad time to open that dream bar that has long been an ambition.
This is something that has traditionally happened when the On Premise has lost outlets. To take the UK market as an example, after the smoking ban of 2007 and the recession of 2008, the market was flooded with high-quality new entrants, picking up some of the many sites that had not survived and, in most cases, offering a better quality alternative than that which had closed.
Ultimately, it is yet to be seen as to the full impact of the Great Resignation. But what it certainly has highlighted is the need not to take hospitality staff for granted. They require investment, support and training. Put simply, staff are hospitality and, without them, hospitality is just food and drink and not the wonderful sector that we love.
To learn more about how CGA can support the challenges faced by suppliers and operators, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.