Saturday, October 16

The staff shortage already affects companies in all economic sectors in the United Kingdom

The UK staff shortage is expanding from the transport, livestock and hospitality sectors to almost every sector of the economy, thus putting “heavy pressure” on all medium-sized companies in the country, a new survey reveals.

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More than a quarter of the 500 companies surveyed say that lack of staff hampers their ability to operate at normal levels and that dwindling stocks – the result of supply chain disruption – are hurting their business.

While some companies have considered cutting production, others are planning to raise prices, fearing higher inflation as the Christmas trading season approaches. Almost a fifth of those surveyed say they have increased salaries to attract new employees, while others have introduced additional benefits for the same purpose.

However, the study, published by the accounting and advisory firm BDO, notes that the repercussions for consumers could be “significant”: Almost a third of companies say prices would have to increase in the next three to six months to compensate for this disruption.

More than a third of the companies surveyed say they have also cut the supply of available products and services and another third plan to do the same over the next month, unless the situation improves dramatically. A similar percentage expect the variety in stocks to be affected in the long term.

Companies blame the pandemic and Brexit for the shortage of foreign staff. 38% of those surveyed say the lack of local workers is hurting their ability to hire the staff they need. “Brexit, global supply chain problems and the enduring effects of COVID-19 have created a perfect storm for British businesses,” says Ed Dwan, Partner at BDO.

“Having weathered the challenges of the pandemic, hoping for a little respite, companies have run into an even bigger problem, with staff shortages reported in almost every industry,” says Dwan.

Emergency visas

The study indicates the challenges facing all sectors of the British economy. The HGV driver shortage has already led to fuel shortages across the country, while big companies like Tesco warned last week that a lack of labor could result in empty shelves in supermarkets and rampant shopping ahead of time. Christmas, unless the government relaxes immigration rules.

Since then, the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson has introduced emergency visas. The measure is expected to lead to the immediate arrival of some 300 fuel transporters who will stay until the end of March and another 4,700 food truck drivers from the end of October, who will leave at the end of February.

Likewise, the hospitality sector also suffers from a worker shortage. According to the latest business confidence survey by consulting firm CGA and technology services company Fourth, one in six jobs in the sector is vacant.

Confidence drop

Only 18% of the 200 companies in the restaurant, bar and pub sector say they are sure they can hire and retain the necessary staff to run their businesses. This is a drastic decrease compared to the 67% who just three months ago were confident of meeting their expectations in the hiring of personnel.

About two-thirds say they expect to hire at a higher rate than usual this year and were already having to deal with absences. They also indicate that on average, about 6% of staff remain in preventive isolation due to the risk of contracting COVID-19.

The shortage is forcing companies to redouble their efforts to attract and retain staff. Three-quarters say they have offered better wages, while two-thirds have “tried to cultivate the right work culture” to retain their workers.

Bosses who have increased salaries claim to have increased salaries by an average of 11% for current staff and 13% for new hires.

The report notes that rising wages will put an additional cost to the hospitality sector, which is already facing rising prices for food, beverages, supplies and utilities.

One of the directors of CGA, Karl Chessell, argues that the figures illustrate the “full scale” of the recruitment and retention crisis in the hospitality sector and calls on the government for support.

“Thousands of companies are facing a critical staff shortage, while many of those with a sufficient workforce struggle to retain it,” says Chessell. “Lack of customer service and service personnel and rapidly rising wage costs threaten to derail the recovery of the sector. Sustained and targeted government support is urgently needed today to address the problem.”

Translation by Julián Cnochaert.

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