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labor shortages

Know How to Attract and Retain Workers

The Baldwin Group
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Updated: June 17, 2024
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2 minute read

If you’ve gone out to a restaurant recently, you’ve probably seen signs posted that read, “Now hiring,” or, “Please be patient with us as we’re currently understaffed.” Though many companies are still having trouble filling empty positions, the hospitality sector is one of the industries that has been hit the hardest. The numbers speak for themselves. In November 2021, a record breaking 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs, and 1 million of them were restaurant and hotel workers. Three percent of the total workforce quit, but for hospitality, the rate was 6.4 percent of the industry’s workforce.

As a response to workers leaving their jobs, hospitality employers are raising wages in an attempt to retain talent. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the hospitality industry remains the lowest paid industry, with average hourly earnings of $21.36 per hour as of late 2023. Though this is a 26% jump from the $16.90 per hour average right before the pandemic, it might not be enough to keep workers.

Why are workers leaving the hospitality industry?

Some people thought that federally enhanced unemployment benefits were to blame for the labor crisis in the hospitality industry. However, those programs have long ended and there’s still a labor crisis, which indicates that the underlying causes are likely longstanding and deep-seated. Simply put, the pandemic put many things into perspective for hospitality workers. As frontline workers, they felt the effects of the pandemic more than workers in many other industries by either getting let go unexpectedly or having to keep establishments up and running with smaller headcount.

Many people reevaluated their lives and sought out improved work-life balance, predictability in schedule, and better benefits, perks which are traditionally hard to find in hospitality jobs. For others burdened with childcare, it’s made more financial sense to continue to care for their children rather than return to work at a low-paying job here most of the paycheck would end up covering costly childcare expenses.

An unexpected surge in retirements in the hospitality industry has also contributed to the limited availability of workers for hire. In November 2021, 1.5 million more people retired than what was expected based on pre-pandemic trends. With more experienced workers at or approaching retirement, this also creates a skills gap within the hospitality industry.

What can the hospitality industry do to attract and retain talent?

In this evolving landscape where the competition for talent is fiercer than ever, hospitality industry employers must remain proactive in their quest to secure and retain exceptional team members while also balancing their own bottom line. Partnering with an experienced advisor plays a crucial role in guiding you through these complexities, ensuring you make educated choices to both strengthen your workforce and manage financial vulnerabilities effectively.


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