The ‘Brexit Factor’ and how to survive it

While we’re still waiting for the government’s Brexit negotiations to reach a resolution, there’s already been worrying speculation about the effect post-Brexit changes will have on the UK’s hospitality industry.

A recent report by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has recommended that ‘immigration into the UK should be weighted to prioritise ‘˜high-skilled’ workers1‘ and seek to end the flow of low-skilled workers coming in from the EU.

Since low-skilled workers fill the majority of hospitality roles, the negative impact on our industry could be considerable. According to an article in The Independent, ’97 per cent of current EU employees in the UK hospitality industry would be ineligible under the new MAC guidance2‘, a move which the British Chambers of Commerce quickly described as being potentially ‘disastrous.’

In a similar article in The Caterer, Kate Nicholls – the Chief Executive of UK Hospitality – also warned, ‘If preference is given to high-skilled workers from outside of the UK, then hospitality businesses will struggle to fill vacancies, investment will dwindle and businesses will suffer’¦ lower-skilled workers [are] vital to the ongoing success of the hospitality sector and the wider UK economy.’

Whether or not any of MAC’s recommendations will be taken up by the government awaits to be seen, but here at Prime Recruitment we’ve been receiving calls from clients on a daily basis asking what the ‘˜Brexit Factor’ will actually mean. It’s a subject which is causing understandable anxiety, especially because – until Brexit is signed, sealed and delivered – none of us can predict what’s going to happen next. But, regardless of what happens next, it’s important to stay positive and focus on the three things all hospitality employers can do to keep their businesses running smoothly and stay ahead of the competition’¦ and if you want to attract the very best staff available, you shouldn’t wait for Brexit to happen before you put these recommendations into place.

Offer more competitive pay rates

Although attracting and retaining the best employees isn’t all about money, offering more competitive pay rates will go a long way towards drawing in and holding onto the right people. After all, your staff are the most important part of your business and finding the ones who’ll work hardest for you and represent your business in the most efficient, friendly and professional way possible is vitally important if your business is going to remain a success and satisfied customers are going to keep walking through your doors.

But the hospitality industry is more competitive than ever (and will become even more competitive if MAC’s recommendations come into force) so you should do everything you can to establish yourself as an employer who values their staff, rewards their commitment, and cares about their welfare’¦ and the first way you can demonstrate that is by offering them a more attractive rate of pay. It also means that when you advertise a vacancy, a greater selection of people will apply and you’ll have a much better opportunity to find the star player(s) you’re looking for. And look at it this way, if you want them to bring in tangible worth to your business, it’s only fair that the rates you offer should reflect what you’re expecting of them.

Provide a great place to work

You’ll always find the very best staff in the very best workplaces. That means doing as much as you can to create a happy and supportive working environment where your employees feel valued and are regularly reminded how important their contribution is to you and your business. An employer or manager who takes time to notice and praise what their staff are doing, listens and (where appropriate) reacts to their opinions or concerns, offers opportunities for training and development, and shows appreciation to their workers whenever possible (even if it’s only letting them leave early after a job well done) is somebody the best people will be clamouring to work with. Because even if you’re offering the competitive pay rates we mentioned earlier, if your staff feel uncomfortable and undervalued in your hotel, bar or restaurant etc. they will eventually move on.

Alternatively, though, when your staff enjoy genuine job satisfaction they’ll always want to meet your expectations, and you can be reasonably sure they’ll be telling people outside the workplace how great an employer you are too. When the time comes for you to recruit again, you can be certain some outstanding candidates will be applying.

Have a much more open recruitment policy

If you want to attract the very best staff possible, you’ve got to be as flexible as possible. Don’t limit yourself by looking at only one particular type of candidate when part-timers or trainees or people who may not exactly fit your criteria could be an even better match for the role. Keep your expectations open and it’s much more likely that a terrific candidate will apply, but restrict yourself to looking for that one ‘˜perfect’ applicant who may not even exist and you’re almost guaranteed to come away dissatisfied.

If you want to find the very best staff, don’t make it hard for them to find you. That’s important to remember at any time, but if MAC’s guidelines become a reality it will be invaluable advice. And don’t forget one other thing, the more flexible and proactive your business and staff are, the more effective you’ll all be when unexpected challenges arise’¦ like the almost inevitable transition into Brexit.

Don’t wait for the government to determine your business’s future. If you want to attract, recruit and retain the very best candidates for your workplace, our expert term are here to help right now.  Contact us today on 020 7580 4398 or email We’re looking forward to assisting you.