tess posthumus

Staffing crisis could open opportunities

23 June, 2022

The pandemic has thrown many challenges at bar owners over the past couple of years and the ones that survived the various lockdowns and restrictions deserve a pat on the back. However, while revenues are returning and bars are beginning to recruit once more, we’ve come up against a whole new set of problems, one of which is a global starring crisis.

Pre-Covid I would receive 80+ applications for any job I posted on social media, but now the tables have turned and it’s the applicants who can be picky about where they work, not the venues. In the Netherlands bartending isn’t considered a traditional career option and due to the constant restrictions introduced by our government, the industry was made to look fragile. This means people aren’t as confident working in hospitality. Combine this with international workers returning home for the pandemic and bar staff have become a finite resource. 

One of my biggest concerns right now is that hospitality has had two dormant years. Experienced bartenders have been able to learn new skills at home but the junior staff members doing the basic glass collecting and bar back rolls haven’t been needed. 

This means we’re going to have more than one or two inexperienced members on bar teams, which can be problematic, and it’s going to be a tricky few years with a high turnover of staff. But with my optimistic hat on I think the good bars will continue to survive because the few bar staff we have le want to work at the best places. The ones working for the money will go to hotel chains, while independent operators who o er education, networking and other valuable skills will attract the motivated staff. We’re already seeing signs of people returning from abroad as the news gets out that we’re struggling for staff and, given that we’ve recently increased our salaries in line with inflation, this should be a further incentive. 

Further a eld things like Brexit in the UK and strict visas in the US are making it more difficult to attract international bar staff, but this could be an opportunity to increase homegrown staff should their respective governments support our industry appropriately.

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