Ireland's hospitality industry needs to rethink their workplace environments in order to make careers in the sector more appealing as the sector grapples with a significant labour shortage a leading hotelier has said.
Restaurants, bars and hotels are all struggling to recruit the necessary staff with many venues holding recruitment days and now reconsidering perks and benefits they offer and raising wages.
“As an industry, the sector needs to change and become more employee-centric," John Burke, of the Armada Hotel at Spanish Point in Co Clare said. As the hotel undergoes a €3m redevelopment they have begun a recruitment drive seeking 100 workers across 30 different roles.
Mr Burke said that in an effort to encourage workers to relocate to the west coast they have begun sourcing accommodation in the area and upgrading their own staff apartments and said they are examining the introduction of premium pay rates and health insurance in order to entice the right staff.
"Hospitality employers need to rethink the workplace environments they create in order to make careers in the sector more appealing," he said. “There is no doubt that the hospitality sector faces challenges but we plan to lead the way in terms of what a hotel can offer employees around pay, perks, hours and conditions of work and ultimately, quality of life.
The hospitality industry in Ireland is faced with a significant shortage of staff. The Restaurant Association of Ireland said 70,000 people have left the sector alone since the onset of the pandemic and there is a shortage of 7,000 chefs. In their pre-Budget submission, they called for the establishment of a National Tourism and Hospitality Training Authority that would work to resolve the recruitment shortages in the industry.
Mr Burke said they have called their recruitment drive the 'Quest for Ireland's Best' setting up its headquarters in a beach hut by the sea at Spanish Point. Potential recruits are offered interviews with existing staff and tours of the hotel. "We are constantly reviewing staff pay and conditions around everything from breaks and benefits to the comfort of the working environment and we’re currently looking at introducing premium rates for staff working past midnight," he said, adding that they were unveiling a full suite of health insurance support packages in conjunction with VHI.
The Armada's redevelopment includes a new restaurant, ocean bar and private dining area. Further renovation works will take place in January when the hotel is closed to guests.
The labour shortage within hospitality is not just confined to Ireland. A bar group in Australia is offering to cover the cost of flights from the UK in order to attract British workers back to the sector.