Industry

Staff crunch grips hospitality sector


The hospitality industry in India could be facing a significant shortage of around 350,000 workers as the business has boomed post the third wave of Covid-19, and operations and working hours have normalised, industry associations and professionals told ET.

Leading Indian and global hotel chains, along with large quick service restaurant (QSR) brands, are all experiencing a staff shortfall primarily due to redundancies created during the pandemic, people familiar with the matter said. “The demand aggregation of the industry for skilled staff is increasing post the pandemic with new hotels, outlets, restaurant chains, and cloud kitchens opening and expanding aggressively,” said Rajan Bahadur, chief executive officer of Tourism and Hospitality Skill Council (THSC), promoted by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) to help fill skilling gap in tourism and hotel industries. “We have already received a demand of over 300,000 workers for different tourism and hospitality job roles in the 2021-22 period,” he said.

“At present, the industry has a requirement of over 350,000 manpower at various levels…. This number is likely to appreciate as the industry is on a constant road to recovery post the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.” Industry insiders said many workers who were laid off during the pandemic have moved to other sectors, such as retail and banking, and are now reluctant to return as there is a feeling that hospitality roles are insecure, not as rewarding, and far too demanding.

Shortage of staff is a “big challenge” and “almost all hotel companies are addressing this in terms of putting a lot of focus on multi-tasking and also developing new talent,” according to KB Kachru, chairman emeritus and principal advisor, South Asia, at Radisson Hotel Group.

“We are working closely with Skill India, which is helping out in terms of developing talent for different departments; whether it’s housekeeping or maintenance, each area has to be addressed separately,” said Kachru, who is also vicepresident of Hotel Association of India.

Vikramjit Singh, president at

, said since stress levels are “comparatively low” in other industries, people are choosing them over hotels, adding that many have moved to hospitals, call centres, retail and real estate. “Post Covid, it has become very difficult to get quality staff at prevailing salary structures,” he said. “We are finding it difficult to get frontline staff in departments such as front office, housekeeping, food and beverage service. It has also become difficult to retain engineering, finance, IT and HR resources as they are changing the industry to get decent salary hikes.”

BOUNCE BACK RIPPLES
Sanjay Bose, executive vice-president for human resources, learning and development at

Hotels, said with business bouncing back faster than estimated, the industry is under immense pressure to have a ready workforce to cater to the enhanced footfalls. “We are also seeing the phenomenon of large-scale attrition, with organisations dealing with the workforce crunch by aggressively hiring from competition. However, this is expected to settle down over the next six to 12 months,” he said. While this is an industrywide problem, at ITC Hotels, the impact is “minimal” as jobs, salaries and benefits were protected during the pandemic and the workforce remained intact, Bose claimed. Chains such as Indian Hotels Company, Accor and McDonald’s India North and East declined to comment on the matter. Others such as Marriott International, Oberoi Group, Sarovar Hotels, and did not respond to emails seeking comments till the time of going to press.

EMPLOYMENT NETWORK

Industry body National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) partnered with staffing and employment platform Kaam.com this year to launch a nationwide recruitment, skill development, and financial inclusion platform for all workers within the hospitality industry. At an NRAI townhall this month to discuss restaurant staffing solutions,

Khiani, founder of Kaam.com, said attrition is a big part of the problem. “Within the sector, 80% of people are migratory. Reverse migration during the pandemic led to a massive vacuum. A lot of people didn’t return,” he had said.



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