The majority of COVID-19 measures in Switzerland have been lifted since February 17th, 2022. The hospitality industry in particular is benefitting from the removal of COVID-19 protection measures and expects good capacity utilisation, thanks to the increasing number of events and the impending arrival of spring. However, despite the upswing, it is worth taking a closer look at the current situation in the hospitality sector. Many companies were affected by staff shortages in the lead-up to the pandemic, and the landscape of work and recruitment in hospitality have undergone seismic changes since. To better understand worker sentiments, Coople conducted a survey with over 2’000 hospitality professionals who worked before and during the COVID-19 crisis. Once again, the results illustrate just how much one’s priorities and perception of work has changed for flexible staff.
The Swiss hospitality industry looks back on two years of lockdowns and multiple adjustments to coronavirus protection measures. One of the consequences of this is that medium to long-term planning of operational and staffing needs has become difficult. Recently, restaurants and hotels have been allowed to operate again at full capacity and without COVID-19 safety measures. The fear of another lockdown that prevailed last year will be replaced by operational uncertainty in 2022, which relates in particular to the threat of staff shortages and the expected rush of hotel and restaurant visitors in the coming months.
Only one third of the participants are fully convinced of a return to the hospitality industry
After Coople conducted a large survey among flexible workers in June 2021, 2’000 people were surveyed once again in February / March 2022. All respondents had worked in the hospitality sector before and during the pandemic, either on a full-time or part-time basis. The results show that the attractiveness of jobs in the hospitality industry continues to decline significantly in the eyes of many employees.
When answering the question of whether or not flexible workers would like to return to the hospitality industry, only 35.7% were completely convinced that they would like to work in this sector again, compared to 45.3% in June 2021. Nevertheless, 44.5% answered that they can see themselves going back, while 19.7% consider a return to the hospitality sector uncertain to impossible.
When asked why a return to the hospitality industry was unlikely, the four most common answers in 2022 were: the desire for better pay (41%), more flexibility (29.5%), a job with better working hours (26.1%) or the desire for better jo security (23.1%).
Concerns about one’s professional future decrease
Much like in the 2021 survey, participants were asked to rate the extent to which their professional life has changed due to COVID-19 and whether they are worried about their professional future. Most respondents indicated that their professional life has changed at least moderately to very much (5.7 average value, 0 = no influence / 10 = strong influence). This average value decreased compared to 2021 (6.7 Ø value), which can be explained by a medium-term adaptation to the pandemic situation and a change in and adjustment to everyday life.
At the same time, the individual perception of one’s professional future among flexible workers in the hospitality industry has also changed: in 2022, just under 35.6% of respondents (values 0 to 2) state that they have little or no worries about their future career prospects (in 2021, only 21%). Compared to 2021 (5.5 Ø value), the distribution of respondents who are moderately to very worried about their future decreased noticeably (4.6 Ø value, 0 = not at all / 10 = very strongly).
Lack of skilled staff and uncertainty in personnel planning as the biggest challenge
When asked about the biggest challenge for businesses in the hospitality sector, 17.3% of respondents cited “lack of skilled staff”, closely followed by the associated uncertainty in staff planning (15.1%). 12.6% of respondents also consider fewer foreign tourists to be a noticeable challenge. As many as 11.2% still see financial bottlenecks as the main challenge for business in 2022.
The upcoming staff shortage can be counteracted with attractive pay and flexible working time models
Daniel Staffelbach, Country Manager at Coople (Switzerland): “Our latest survey shows that despite the lifting of the Coronavirus measures, it is currently difficult for hospitality businesses in Switzerland to fall back on their traditional, experienced staff in order to adequately cope with the expected rush in the coming weeks and months. The survey confirms that many employees in this sector would like to earn more and also have some flexibility in their working hours”.
Yves Schneuwly, CCO of Coople: “We see a recognisable trend here towards a “sustained loss of confidence” in the hospitality industry. We strongly advise that it is important to act now and that it is not enough to just indicate the demand for staff. There needs to be a strategic emphasis on responding to the wishes and demands of staff.”
Average wages are still comparatively low and significantly reduce the attractiveness factor of the industry. The industry and the employers themselves are in a real dilemma here, as many companies cannot (yet) afford to raise wage levels in the current situation.
The 2022 survey also confirms the trend towards greater flexibility and autonomy in the hospitality industry. This trend can not only be implemented by every company, but it can even help save money. Companies that respond to the growing demand for flexibility and systematically rely on a flexible workforce are laying the right foundations in the short and medium term. In order for this trend to be sustainable, companies should strategically build up a pool of flexible workers.
This enables them to react optimally to fluctuations in supply and demand, while positioning themselves as a flexible and attractive employer. Today, staff planning no longer has to be done from the top down, but can also be done from the bottom up with the help of a digital marketplace such as Coople. In this way, employees retain their autonomy in choosing the jobs that suit them and their motivation remains high.
Since its founding in Zurich in 2009, Coople has developed into Europe’s largest digital platform for staff leasing with over 650,000 registered employees and 20,000 companies. The company places flexible workers for short- and long-term assignments in the areas of healthcare, gastronomy, hotel business, retail, aviation, logistics, events and promotion as well as in the commercial sector.
2,016 participants, not representative of all flexible workers in Swiss gastronomy.
All participants were active users of the Coople platform in the last 8 months.
Coople flexible workers in the restaurant/hospitality industry, e.g. barman/barmaid, receptionists, chefs, waiters or dishwashers