The war for talent in retail & hospitality


The title of this article may have conjured up an image of a muddy battlefield - a group of terrified chefs sit in the middle of the battlefield. To the west, a restaurant chain stands hungrily on the crest of a hill. They can see their prey. To the east, a hotel operator paces on their horses. They need those chefs in the middle just as badly. And then, as if orchestrated, the restaurant and hotel operator charge at the chefs - cries of "Come work for us" ring out whilst a solitary eagle (recruitment agent) circles high above. 

That sounds actually quite grim and was not my intention - the point is that restaurants, hotels and most businesses in hospitality will need to think outside of the box when it comes to attracting talent. Salaries will not be enough. The culture of the organisation will be important. The growth ambitions and the inclusion of the staff in that growth will be key. 

Because of the above, the objective of Ross Bootland really resonates with me when it comes to maximising recruitment success. Creating a culture that appreciates and values staff as well as developing their talents should be at the core of all hospitality businesses. 

The other key component to successful recruitment will be knowing the immigration landscape for such roles. Many hotels and restaurants believe that you cannot sponsor a chef into the UK as a Skilled Worker - but actually you can. Many more businesses believe that it is very difficult to obtain a sponsor licence and that managing the sponsor licence is incredibly difficult. With the right advice and planning, it is possible to obtain a licence and have it managed effectively. 

Sponsoring a chef is also not the only option for foreign talent - you could have someone work for you without sponsorship. For example, you could source some young talent out of university or culinary school and potentially have them on a Graduate visa! 

The point is that the war for talent does not need to be a grim scene like the one described above. With the right planning, advice and strategy you could build a model whereby you don't need to go hunting for people - people will come hunting for you. As an advisor, I often input into recruitment plans and strategies so that recruitment is sustainable and commercially viable. 

Recruitment doesn't need to be a re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings. 


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Recruitment has been very challenging across the industry so one of my main objectives will be to hire some fantastic talent into chef vacancies we have across the group. I want to create a friendly and supportive culture across all of the kitchens in our hotels and will be looking at ways we can invest in our team's development.
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