Hospitality workers calling urgent support amid cost and staffing crisis

The BBC issued an interview with a small business owner this week after they had publicly called out for the government to provide urgent support of the hospitality industry. Esmie Stewart, the owner of the Coventry-based Caribbean restaurant “Esmie’s”, faces closure because she cannot find workers to staff the restaurant, especially those with prior experience working within the cuisine. 

The BBC report follows surveys released by the Office for National Statistics in September suggesting that “almost 40% of hospitality businesses in the UK have struggled to recruit staff at a time of recession, high inflation and rising energy bills.” As small businesses reach a breaking point, heads of well-established independent businesses are calling out for the government to provide funding to help smaller businesses recruit and train staff, or risk the industry having to face dramatic closures. Speaking to the BBC Midlands Today team, the Michelin-starred chef and perhaps the most famous of Birmingham’s chefs - Glynn Purnell, of Birmingham’s Purnell’s Restaurant - has called for the government to “lower VAT [and] adjust business rates” to give small businesses more breathing space. 

However, whilst spending on training and recruitment can be expensive, Brigad can help alleviate some costs. Businesses using the Brigad platform can save both time and money spent on training and recruitment by working with Brigad’s users - experienced and self-employed professionals. They pay no fees to use the platform and all Talents are experienced professionals who have fully completed training and experience working within the industry before signing up to Brigad. This means that businesses can immediately connect to a community of self-employed professionals, as soon as they have completed the quick sign-up. 

The value of hospitality in the U.K.

There is a clear incentive for the government to provide more help to businesses in the hospitality industry: Hospitality is the third largest private sector employer in the UK. It represents 10% of employment, 6% of businesses and 5% of GDP. According to ONS data published on 12 August 2021. In wake of the pandemic, the UK economy grew by 4.8% in the first two quarters of 2022, and analysis by CGA’s UKHospitality Quarterly Tracker showed that hospitality was responsible for 40% of the UK’s total economic growth

This data shows just how important hospitality businesses are to the economy, and in providing employment. When Talents have moved onto using Brigad to work in the industry, they have received, on average, a 15% higher per-hour as a self-employed professional, compared to remaining on a full-time contract.

Nevertheless, whilst the government has issued some measures to help families and vulnerable people through the energy crisis, Birmingham’s Glynn Purnell said that: “businesses need help too, otherwise if we don't use it, we'll lose it.” Surveys issued by UK Hospitality in October revealed that “a third of UK hospitality businesses are at risk of going out of business in early 2023, as 34% are currently running at a loss.” 

Esmie’s - the Coventry-based Caribbean restaurant interviewed by the BBC - will not be the only restaurant struggling to find experienced workers, especially within cuisines from other parts of the world: Brexit and the tightening of VISA qualifications has contributed to a dramatic falls in the number of foreign workers coming to the UK

Small businesses like Esmie’s often rely on family, friends or word-of-mouth recommendations to find their staff, especially when finding workers with prior experience in the cuisine. With costs already tight, many small business owners cannot afford the often-expensive costs of advertising job vacancies, or the time-consuming activity of seeking out a worker with the perfect skill sets. Esmie’s team of 12 has been reduced to just 2 after the pandemic. Ms. Stewart cites rising costs and poaching from larger corporations to be at fault: “good talent is being poached because bigger companies can pay more than small independents.” There’s no doubt that larger corporations have the funds and time to spend seeking out skilled workers, time and money that small business owners do not have. 

Nevertheless, it is platforms like Brigad which can help bridge the gap between businesses and workers, with the platform connecting experienced, self-employed professionals to their ideal missions. Owners of small businesses will not need to pay the cost of extensive advertisements, nor spend as long looking for workers with the right skills and experience. With no fees to post a mission, just the payment to the worker who accepts the mission, there are no hidden fees to consider when looking for extra support. On average, 80% of missions are accepted within 2 hours, so you can rely on us to help you out in a sticky situation. Brigad’s profiles list users' skills, attributes and prior feedback, a quick and easy way for owners like Ms. Stewart to find a professional with the experience she needs to work with her cuisine.

Star Hotels have been using Brigad at three of their sites, The Gore, The Pelham and The Franklin, but they were naturally sceptical to begin with. Having explained the concept of Brigad to their General Manager, and impressing him, he quickly passed us on to their Director of Food and Beverage. They offered their 3 criteria that their staff have to meet at Star Hotels; passionate, experienced and well-qualified. Having had bad experiences with agencies in the past, it was natural that they were unsure if Brigad could serve them and their customers appropriately. After taking the leap over Summer, the flexibility of the platform and professionalism of the workers convinced him to carry on using the application. What cemented his consistent use of Brigad was the ease of adding on extra sites to the app. Now, with 3 sites using the app every week and Star Hotels booming with business, it was simply a match made in heaven. 

Let us help you find your next business and self-employed professional! We have now launched in Birmingham and will soon be supporting restaurants like Esmie’s and hotels just like Star Hotels in the Midlands very soon.

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