HVS survey: 17% of hospitality leaders have rehired all employees let go due to pandemic

As the hospitality industry prepares for a resurgence globally in the foreseeable future, HVS Executive Search reached out to industry employers and leaders to understand, sense and address what could be a unified response code across the globe.

The “HVS Global Employer Survey” findings, carried out across the U.S., Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa, aimed to understand current employer sentiment, objectives and key concerns as we all enter the COVID-19 recovery zone, according to the company.

This survey was focused on receiving feedback from 106 hospitality employers and leaders—owners, CEOs, heads of operations and general managers—across these regions and provides a ready referral and a tool kit to future employee resource planning.

Approximately 5% are owners; 18% are board members, presidents and CEOs, 39% are GMs, 26% are VPs/ SVPs/managing directors and 12% are other senior hospitality leaders such as CFOs and development heads of leading hospitality and restaurant chains.

The survey was carried out from March 20-April 10.

“We have seen the incredible resolve shown within organizations around the world and putting their people first,” said Court Williams, CEO, HVS Executive Search. “Enormous sacrifice and sheer determination are leadership qualities helping our industry come back, albeit slowly, with current travel restrictions and ongoing pockets of increased COVID-19 cases.”

He added, “Rehiring has been on the uprise but cautiously. Many leadership positions have been expanded to greater bandwidth as organizational structures are rethought, creating a great opportunity for high performers with high potential to grow. Technology continues to improve and take on a greater role in how the hospitality industry is managed, and in many cases, reduction in human capital is the result.”

Key findings of the survey:

  • A combined 64% of employers confirmed that a percentage of employers were laid off last year, while 21% said that more than 50% of the workforce was let go and 36% of employers confirmed that less than 5% or, in certain cases, no employees were let go last year.
  • Close to 75% of the respondents confirmed that they had rehired one out of four employees that were let go. Approximately 17% of the respondents confirmed that they have now hired back 100% of the employees that were let go due to the slow down of business during the worst phase of the pandemic.
  • 43% of the respondents confirmed that, as of the beginning of Q2 of 2021, the salary/benefits had been brought back to the original levels of Q1 of 2020, while 18% of the respondents confirmed that there were no cuts in the salary structure in the first place. Some regions and a few employers even extended 5-7% salary increments to employees who performed exceedingly well in 2020. Moreover, certain enhanced benefits such as “work from anywhere” and extended financial/medical/emotional support during the pandemic have ensured that many employees now have a very high level of loyalty for their employers.
  • Only 29% of our respondents across the globe have confirmed having made permanent changes to the compensation structure.
  • 79% of the respondents across the globe agree that learning and development will play a key role in the immediate future. Critical and immediate training would be required to enhance safety skills. A refresher on basics as well as gearing up to the “new standards” is imperative. The need of the hour is collaborative teams and multi-skilled employees who are agile, alert and have a high sense of entrepreneurship. Training to improve and enhance employee digital skills is also needed.54% of our respondents confirmed that they would need to hire talent for key roles in Q3/Q4 of 2021.
  • 59% of respondents confirmed that they plan to further invest in technology, artificial intelligence and automation to compete and thrive in the “new normal” circumstances.