Retaining British Hospitality Workers – How the UK Can Avoid a Crisis in the Hospitality Sector
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Retaining British Hospitality Workers

Over 50% of YouGov respondents say more control over work and life patterns would aid staff retention.

Deputy recently commissioned a survey with YouGov to better understand the low retention rate in the UK hospitality industry. Unsociable working hours, low pay and benefits, and lack of career prospects are the top three reasons why the UK hospitality sector suffers from an annual staff retention level of just 70% (vs UK average of 85%).

We worked out that the hospitality sector has an employee turnover rate of 30% (3 out of 10 workers leave their role within a year) – double that of the UK average – and is forecast to get worse as a ‘Brexodus’ of EU workers are set to rock the hospitality sector over the next few years.

The UK hospitality sector is the third largest private employer in the UK and could face a significant shortfall in the talent pool. Many in the hospitality sector are worried about what Brexit will mean for the workforce. As the talent pool dries up, increasing retention in the hospitality sector over the next few years is vital. We used the survey to discover the real reasons people leave the hospitality sector and what might be done to retain more talent.

YouGov Report

Deputy worked with YouGov to investigate the key reasons that hospitality workers leave the industry and what could be done to help retain them. The survey of 1,006 GB employees reveals that:


  • Close to half (42%) of GB employees are either employed in the hospitality industry or have worked in it at some point.
  • 40% believe it is viable to have a long-term career in the hospitality sector, rising to 62% for those who currently work in the hospitality sector; just 20% overall said they didn’t think it was possible.
  • GB employees were asked what would make employees in the hospitality sector less likely to leave the sector. The answers suggest the key factors that could improve retention are:
    • Better pay and benefits (63%)
    • More control over work life and shift patterns [MP2] (55%)
    • More stable income and guaranteed hours (52%)
    • Better career prospects (42%)
    • More transparency from employers regarding shifts/scheduling (32%)


  • When asked why they took their most recent role in the hospitality sector, 40% of respondents who have worked or currently work in hospitality said they took a job in the sector because it was the only one available at the time.
  • 44% of those who have worked in the hospitality sector said it was their main occupation, while 38% said they did it while in education and 15% said it was a second or third job, meaning more than half could be labelled ‘casual workers’.


  • GB employees were asked why someone working[BG3] or looking to build a career in the hospitality sector would decide to leave or look for a job in a different sector. The top three reasons were:
    • Unsociable working hours (69%)
    • Low pay and benefits (63%)
    • Lack of career prospects (35%)
  • Just 3% answered that they chose to work in hospitality for the career prospects it offered

One statistic that stands out is that the majority of GB employees (55%) feel more control over work and shift patterns would make hospitality workers less likely to leave or look for a job in a different sector. This is something that Deputy can help with as companies are trying to deal with staffing issues, and free up time from admin tasks that should be consigned to the 20th century.

After better pay, the survey showed that workers want more control over their working lives and more stability. Anyone who has worked in the hospitality sector knows what it feels like not to know when you’ll be working week to week. It can be stressful and limits your ability to plan and make the most of both work and ‘down’ time.

Using the data from the YouGov survey, Deputy has compiled a detailed report which explores the current state of the UK hospitality sector, the gathering storm of challenges that look set to exacerbate the staff retention issue, along with potential solutions both from an industry and individual business perspective.

If you want to read more, download the full report below.


Survey figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,006 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between July 4-9, 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of British business size.

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