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Hospitality and leisure - looking up for the year ahead

Prior to the pandemic, the hospitality and leisure sector comprised around 20,000 small businesses and contributed more than £120 billion a year to the economy.

It was also the third-largest sector for employment, with an estimated 3.2 million people working in restaurants, pubs, and other areas. Unfortunately, the events of last year forced these businesses into mass furloughing and layoffs.

However, I am optimistic that the sector will be restored to its former success with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout this year. While innovation and creativity were driven by the pandemic over the last year, it will likely continue when fierce competition resumes. Businesses will come up with new concepts to give them an edge on their rivals by using technology or by developing new types of experiences. Any innovation which caters to customers’ increasing desire for personalised experiences will help companies to bounce back quickly.

The right workforce

While some hospitality and leisure professionals have left the industry for now, many are still employed and staying loyal to supportive employers, either working as normal when venues are open, or from home, or on furlough. To ensure their remaining employees feel valued, leaders can do simple things like keeping staff informed about business expectations, plans, and where they stand.

When the market reopens, businesses should first offer rewards to their loyal employees in the form of promotions and development opportunities. Those who do this will improve their brand image and be recognised for how well they treated their employees during tough times. This will attract candidates who will return to the sector once it bounces back.

Hospitality and leisure salary and benefits

Across the sector, employers are limited in what they can offer at present. To be competitive when the market resumes, businesses must understand what candidates want and do their best to offer it.

In a REED survey conducted at the end of last year, we found that performance bonuses, and flexible and remote work were among the top priorities on the list of benefits professionals are looking for. Also, given the pandemic has led many to re-evaluate their futures, candidates I have spoken to really emphasised the attractiveness of generous pension schemes.

Hospitality and leisure roles in demand

Many businesses are still up and running, having adapted to the conditions of the pandemic. This means salaries continue to rise, especially in roles including commis chefs (8.2%), food and beverage managers (11.9%) and reception managers (12.4%).

Hotels, for example, are still open for key workers or donating their rooms to use as testing centres or homeless shelters. Therefore, they will still need to employ staff to look after guests, cook meals, clean rooms and more. Also, restaurants can still thrive providing they can accommodate delivery or takeaway options until the restrictions end.

What salaries and benefits can you expect within hospitality and leisure regionally?

REED’s Hospitality & Leisure Salary Guide 2021 includes a comprehensive list of the most popular roles in the sector, helping candidates to understand their value and supporting hiring managers to ensure they make competitive offers in the recruitment market.

Nationwide, salaries in the sector have grown by 4%, demonstrating the potential for success when the market reopens and renews its former success.

Yorkshire and Humberside


Restrictions in Yorkshire and Humberside have had a severe impact on the hospitality sector, much like the rest of the UK. However, salary growth is stronger than in other areas, with pay increasing by 10.6% on average.

Assistant manager roles have risen in value by 10% in the last year, and chefs should earn between £20,400 and £39,000, on average, in 2021. None of the most popular roles have witnessed salary declines, despite the general struggle across the sector. Apart from front-of-house managers and executive chefs, most roles in this region have seen salary increases of more than 2% this year.

East Anglia


The average increase of salaries in this region is 6%. In the past year, the digital world has saved the industry in its time of need and the relationship between tech and hospitality is one that will be here to stay.

The boom in demand for commis chefs is reflected in an average salary rise of 9.4% – they can now earn around £19,700 a year, and projections for 2022 indicate further growth to an average of £22,100. However, cashflows and recruitment have been disrupted by closures and the investment in staying COVID-19 compliant. Until the market returns to ‘normal’, we expect businesses to focus more on retention than recruitment.

For more information on salaries and benefits in the hospitality and leisure sector, as well as regional insights on your local market, 
download our 2021 salary guide


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