Over half (70%) of hospitality employees plan to stay in their current roles, and have no plans to work outside of the hospitality and leisure industry for the foreseeable future, despite the reduced job security they now face.
The study, conducted by print firm, Solopress, reveals the top concerns from hospitality employees as industry workers protested outside Westminster yesterday following the government’s introduction of a three-tier system, forcing pubs and restaurants in tier three regions to close indefinitely.
Despite being able to operate, hospitality businesses under tier one & two restrictions are still facing issues.
Customer sentiment has dropped recently, with 30% of visitors claiming the experience at their favourite hospitality haunts isn’t the same as before the coronavirus crisis. 28% of customers even claimed that face coverings are affecting the quality of customer service.
Zoe, a bartender based in Leeds, agrees that the restrictions prevent her from carrying out her customer service role properly.
“These new restrictions mean yet another rule for us to enforce and monitor, like our jobs aren’t difficult enough at the moment already. Most businesses aren’t in a financial position to pay doormen or bouncers anymore, so it lands on us regular employees to do this – which can be especially intimidating when you’re dealing with drunk people in a bar.”
“That fun, enjoyable experience of working in a bar has slowly diminished. Customers can’t even see me smile behind my mask, and the social aspect of chatting with customers is something I loved about my job.”
“Most customers I deal with don’t even follow the guidelines properly, I’ve seen people swapping and sharing their masks, so there clearly needs to be more education around not just what the rules are, but how to follow them properly.”
This concern about hygiene is prevalent amongst most hospitality employees, with over half calling for hygiene rules to remain permanent even after the pandemic ends, including mandatory face masks (32%), mandatory sanitising (61%) and customers to social distance (50%).
Saskia, a local bistro supervisor in Blackburn – which is currently a tier-three zone – echoes the hygiene concerns, but still thinks the government should revisit their stance on shutting down pubs, bars and restaurants.
“Of course there are concerns amongst staff about catching the virus, but that concern is there when you visit shops, gyms, when you use the bus or the train. It’s safe to say that most people are concerned about leaving the safety of their homes right now, but everyone is doing all they can to make sure it’s safe and hygienic when they do leave.“
“There’s no reason for the government to target hospitality establishments over any other public space. It’s completely disheartening, as we’ve put up with their ever-changing rules since July only to be shoehorned into the ‘places to avoid during covid’ category.”
“We’re all just keeping faith and looking forward to one day in the future when we can celebrate and reward all the hard work of our staff, but for the time being our aim is to ensure financial security for them all.”
The regions placed under tier-three, meaning the risk of catching the virus in these areas are very high, are largely based in the north. However, the study data shows that hospitality employees in the south are less likely to trust that their colleagues are following the proper hygiene guidelines (23%) than their northern counterparts (15%).
Si, a waiter from Hackney, London, has witnessed most of his colleagues breaking the rules since they reopened.
“We try our best to keep the face masks or visors on all day, but it’s impossible, especially on a warm day. Sometimes when you’re serving customers they struggle to hear you, so I’ll see some of my colleagues removing it then.“
“I know our manager has had to have words with a group of staff who were socialising outside of work hours together, going for an after-work drink, that type of thing. There’s only so much that managers can police though, as it’s not really in their remit to dictate what staff do outside of work, but it definitely makes me feel uncomfortable to know that they’re breaking the rules and seeing people outside of their household.”
“If they’re comfortable socialising with each other, they’re probably seeing hundreds of other people as they clearly have a disregard for the restrictions.”
Simon Cooper, Managing Director of Solopress said: “We have a brilliant client base in the hospitality industry and wish them nothing but the best in these unprecedented circumstances. It’s clear that both staff and customers have concerns about safety and hygiene, and these will continue even after the pandemic.
“With just a little investment in protective products and essential equipment, hospitality businesses can help ease these concerns and make customers and employees feel as comfortable as possible. We’re proud to be producing items like sanitiser stations and floor stickers, which are clearly paramount in creating a safe environment for both.”
To help hospitality businesses operate safely under the new restrictions, Solopress has launched a range of COVID-19 essentials such as visors, sneeze guards and sanitiser stations.