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The shutdown of venues has left businesses and their staff in a holding pattern, with many still unsure whether they will be able to reopen at all.

While some of these challenges will remain this year, Reed's Hospitality & Leisure Salary Guide 2021 also highlights key reasons why both companies and their employees can be optimistic about the year ahead.

1. The lifting of restrictions will turn pent-up demand into a windfall for hospitality and leisure firms

Are you longing to go to a restaurant, the pub, or an event with your family and friends? Or to go to the gym and participate in other leisure activities? You are not alone.

As evidenced by Eat Out to Help Out and the rush to pubs when they reopened after the first lockdown in 2020, there is an insatiable demand from the public to go back to some form of ‘normal’. When restrictions are lifted following the vaccine rollout, the sector will once again play a central part in people’s lives, as Reed Hospitality & Leisure Expert Sam Baldwinson explains:

“The enforced closure of venues will likely heighten demand when things return to normal, with people relying on the hospitality sector to put a smile back on their faces - whether that be a quiet dinner date, a night out with friends or other special occasions.”

2. Increased innovation provides a long-term foundation

To survive the pandemic, hospitality and leisure companies have had to innovate to maximise their revenue. For restaurants and bars this includes the adoption of apps to facilitate table service or create a takeaway service, while all hospitality and leisure venues have been required to ensure they are Covid-secure.

These changes will pay dividends in the short-term, as social distancing is likely to remain in place when restrictions are eased. However, the investment in new technology and innovation around customer experiences will help to improve the long-term prospects of firms too.  

3. Greater value placed on teamwork and wellbeing

While everyone has had a difficult experience through the pandemic, hospitality and leisure professionals have faced more challenges than most. What these challenges have done, however, is fostered a bond within hospitality and leisure teams, encouraging staff to get through this difficult period together.

It has also led to many employers increasing their focus on employee wellbeing. Some of the most supportive acts taken by firms have been very simple, such as being transparent about how the business is doing and what measures it needs to put in place, as well as using technology to help employees who are working at venues, remotely, or even those who have been furloughed, to stay in touch and support each other.

Those businesses who have done the ‘right thing’ for their employees will not just benefit morally, but have set themselves up for what lays ahead, as Sam Baldwinson outlines:

“Those businesses which have supported staff as much as possible during the pandemic have stood themselves in good stead with their employees, creating a relationship of trust and commitment. This will aid future retention, with employees showing loyalty to companies who supported them through tough times.”

4. Hospitality and leisure salaries on the increase

Despite the sector being hit hard by Covid-19, the data used to compile our guide illustrated that available salaries for new roles were increasing in 11 out of our 12 UK regions, with pay for new roles only falling in Northern Ireland.

While this will not incorporate existing roles where staff have taken pay cuts or been placed on furlough, this does signal that hospitality and leisure professionals should not see the fallout from the pandemic impact their earning potential when seeking new roles.

5. Chefs are in demand

While salaries for many roles in the sector have fluctuated across different regions, chefs have seen consistent average salary growth across the majority of the UK. For example, head chef salaries have increased by 7% in the East Midlands, demi chef de parties in Wales have witnessed a 4.8% average salary rise, while sous chef pay has gone up by an average of 8.5% in London

This is down to food businesses in the hospitality sector having a greater number of options to adapt to the coronavirus restrictions. Restaurants have been able to operate as takeaways, while many catering businesses have shifted their service towards providing meals for schools and key workers – maintaining the demand for chefs.

For more information on salaries and benefits for hospitality and leisure professionals, download Reed's free Hospitality & Leisure Salary Guide 2024. The guide contains industry insight and salary data across the UK and will help you make informed decisions in the year ahead.