In many ways the recent Minister for Hospitality debate in Parliament was a huge success for hospitality. Watching the debate saw 20 MPs from across the House demonstrate an understanding of how fundamental hospitality is to the UK.
The petition for a Minister for Hospitality was created in October 2020 by Claire Bosi, Editor, Chef & Restaurant Magazine. It got off to a good start but then lost momentum, the 100,000 signatories target required for the debate to take place seemingly a distant prospect.
Harry Murray MBE, Chairman, Lucknam Park was one of the first to adopt and champion the campaign, tirelessly badgering for support through twitter.
Robin Hutson, CEO, Home Grown Hotels with help from Freya Morton and Lydia Rigby, alongside a group of management trainees within Home Grown Hotels then created #SEATATTHETABLE, an online campaign to inform people of the petition and its importance to not only the hospitality industry, but the nation as a whole.
James Martin and a video call to his 695,000 twitter followers was a significant step forward, and social media once again showed its power when flexed by a true influencer.
With the support of many the campaign then achieved more than double its required tally and the debate took place.
One question arose around campaigning discussions more than any other, why it seemed such an arduous process to achieve 100,000 signatures. Especially in an industry that employs circa 3 million people.
The questions collectively could be summarised as: Why are so few people in hospitality not getting behind a campaign to support our industry, when it is needed most?
Looking closely at the demographics of employment in our industry in part shines a light on an answer.
Rather than use multiple reference sources in the notes below, all are taken from the Government ONS website and – Hospitality and Tourism workforce landscape | June 2019 – A research report mapping the sector workforce landscape for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The 55 page report can be read and/or downloaded here.
Most people who work in hospitality are young, the 16-29 age group being the largest.
Most people who work in hospitality are in part time and temporary positions.
Most people who work in hospitality are in low pay jobs.
Most people who work in hospitality receive little or no training.
There are clearly tomes of data to study and evaluate from the reference sources cited, as well as many others. But the fundamental basics stated in the simplest form are the best starting point to try and seek an answer.
At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic J D Wetherspoon’s Chairman Tim Martin gave a clear indication of what value he placed in the majority of his 42,000 workforce before making them redundant. He advised them to go and get a job in a supermarket.
Pizza Hut and many other hospitality employers were recently named and shamed by government for not paying employees the minimum wage.
These examples are an unfortunate window to all too many employers treatment of their own people.
Unpalatable reading, and thankfully a great many exceptions to it, but a window none the less. And perhaps a window that is more reflective than some might like to think. But, like all problems acceptance and recognition is the first step towards finding remedy to them.
At the very least, Pizza Hut and JD Wetherspoon are not alone, and the statistics available clearly show hospitality employment issues related to low remuneration and career development.
These issues have a negative impact with those directly affected. So, maybe the next time you are looking for a member of staff don’t be surprised if potential applicants instead choose to stack shelf’s at Asda for more money. Also, do not be surprised if they don’t have any interest in supporting an industry campaign like Minister for Hospitality.
What can be done?
There are countless hospitality employers providing jobs with good remuneration, good training, good career development prospects and much more.
There are countless hospitality employers that provide a culture where people can be inspired to develop a career and thrive within hospitality.
A benchmark to be recognised as a good employer could be taken from those that excel in being just that.
Maybe the time has come to create a ‘Hospitality Employer Standard’ that transparently assesses a business’s HR credentials, and awards stars for levels of excellence. Over time these could become as recognisable as awards for culinary excellence, by the public as well all employers and employees. For illustration purposes, let’s call them HR Stars.
If hospitality employers adopted such a code there would be significant competitive advantage in recruitment for companies that excelled in applying the new HR benchmark. This competitive advantage would then become a strategic goal for most if not all employers, as they would want the profits that flow from them.
If consumers were drawn to hospitality venues with higher HR Star ratings, and doubtless they would, this new competitive landscape would raise the bar for all.
By making people management a vital and transparent part of hospitality businesses attracting customers, at the same time it would create an industry where people wanted to work, felt part of, and supported initiatives for the good of the industry, like Minister for Hospitality.
Hospitality when it reopens will travel through a reset, focusing more as an industry on the meaningful development of young people will be truly advantageous.
News from the hospitality and catering industry is also being featured extensively in our Facebook and twitter social media accounts with the opportunity to engage with others in hospitality and share your views.
Hospitality & Catering News: Hospitality Reset – 26 January 2021 – Hospitality Reset.
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