Desperate pub bosses increase wages as they struggle to hire staff in Black Country

Hard-hit pub and restaurants are now having to increase pay to attract staff as shortages continue to hamper the industry’s recovery.

Emma and Terry Cole from the Royal Oak in Wolverhampton
Emma and Terry Cole from the Royal Oak in Wolverhampton

Terry Cole runs the busy Royal Oak pub in Compton Road, Wolverhampton.

Based just down the road from Molineux it can welcome up to 300 fans on match day. But with a mere six staff currently available, Terry said it is ‘all hands on deck’.

Mr Cole said: “When we came back from the first lockdown, we offered all our staff a pay rise to keep them on.

“I know some have gone to work at other places but a lot have re-trained and gone to work in supermarkets or elsewhere. We can’t find any good staff anymore. We aren’t the only ones.”

He and his wife Emma have joined their team working every hour they can as they struggle to recruit more workers.

They even brought Emma’s elderly parents out of retirement to lend a hand on busy shifts.

The 43-year-old said: “We’ve spent three months trying to find people. Before Covid we would have filled the roles within days.

“We are all doing long hours. It’s good we are getting back to normality but we would like some time to ourselves too.”

Despite having advertised for more staff for three months, Terry said he just hasn’t been able to hire anyone.

Meanwhile, Matt Ward is one of the owners of the New Hall Arms in Cannock and said while he hasn’t had a problem recruiting, he knows plenty of places that have struggled.

“Honestly, I haven’t struggled to get staff. We just hired a few part-time staff last week. But I know loads of people have had trouble hiring. I’ve seen so many signs in doors and windows advertising for staff.”

A national survey of 200 managers, conducted by the research firm CGA with technology specialists Fourth, showed that the shortage of staff was prompting bosses to step up efforts to attract and retain people to do the job.

About 76 per cent of respondents said they had offered better pay, while 75 per cent had stepped up levels of communication with staff.

Jan Denning, who runs Destination Wolverhampton and the Black Country and also The Hospitality Partnership, said: “Since restrictions have eased the industry has faced more challenges. A lot of good staff have been lost.

“It’s important to note the shortage of staff is not just in the UK but across Europe and globally too.

“By raising salaries this will attract new staff.

“But attracting staff is not just about salary, it’s about taking care of them. They need good training programmes, they need recognition, they need rewards, like discounts in the business, and an employee of the month programmes.

"They also need to be using a good recruitment specialist, to get the right people on board.”

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