Leathwaite partner Holly Addison discussed how staff shortages can be resolved and push business leaders to reduce barriers to entry at MCA’s latest FD Leaders event

Holly Addison, partner at executive search specialist Leathwaite, discussed how accessible recruitment processes and diverse talent pools can help resolve the labour and skills shortage in hospitality by sharing insights and solutions from her work with the sector as well as other consumer-led industries.

Along with fellow speaker John Webber, head of rating at Colliers, MCA’s latest FD Leaders event on 17 January featured Addison discussing the talent gap in hospitality and ways in which finance leaders can help resolve it. She also shared insights from her work with Balance the Board, a mentoring programme of which she is a co-founder.

“Possibly more than any other corporate functions, CFOs have been under immense pressure to find solutions in unprecedented times,” she said. “The role has evolved arguably more than any other.”

According to the Office for National Statistics, there are more job vacancies than unemployed people and vacancies in the hospitality sector have risen sharply since the beginning of the pandemic, compounded by the creation of new jobs and “talent leakage” to other sectors, according to Addison.

“Brexit has caused the issue to be exposed, but it was arguably already there,” she added. “Some hospitality businesses may operate outdated staffing models as well.”

Other sectors have become more meritocratic and reduced barriers to entry, leading to more industries competing for the same talent pool. Changing staffing models to add flexibility, through job sharing, multiskilling, and hybrid working where possible, can allow hospitality to become more competitive, Addison argued.

“As we look to grow and engage with talent, there’s an opportunity to be clever about the way we work…people’s appetite to return to work and more social environments continues to grow, but the return will be largely on their terms.

“They’re reluctant to relinquish the ownership they have over work-life balance…that change is probably a permanent shift.”

Engagement, reward, and a sense of purpose is also more important than ever for employees, who are increasingly gravitating towards those organisations that align with their values.

Addison further emphasised the importance of being inclusive to people of all abilities and from all communities, regardless of identity, background, or circumstance.

““This is also an opportunity to think about removing barriers, being more proactive, and ensuring recruitment processes are accessible to all,” she continued. “I urge you to look at [diverse populations] as a rich source of talent at all levels.”