Some 84% of hotel operators are “concerned” about the impact of the end to freedom of movement on their future recruitment, according to the latest survey from audit, tax and consulting firm RSM.
The survey of over 300 middle market consumer business leaders found almost half are prioritising investment in their workforce over the coming year.
RSM said this is likely to include investment in workplace training and employee incentives in an effort to retain staff, as well as a higher spend on wages, employment agencies and search services.
Additionally, 77% of hotels reported having “struggled to recruit effectively” in the last 12 months, and said the challenge looks “set to continue” with 79% saying they plan to increase their headcount in 2020.
However, the research also revealed a “high degree of optimism” for the year ahead among hotel operators.
In total, 87% of respondents from the hotels and accommodation sector said they were positive about their business prospects in 2020, higher than the average of 81% across all consumer-facing business sectors.
Investment in technology was the second highest priority for hotels and accommodation providers, with 44% saying this was a priority for the year ahead.
Chris Tate, of RSM’s consumer markets team, said: “Despite some emerging risks, such as coronavirus, hotel businesses are remarkably upbeat about the year ahead. However, many are mindful of the challenges to come particularly with regards to recruiting and retaining the best staff.
“Many operators will now be trying to understand the implications of the recently announced points-based immigration system that will come into force in January next year when freedom of movement comes to an end.”
He added: “This will pose a challenge for many who have previously been reliant on EU staff to plug skills gaps. Sensibly, many are budgeting for higher investment in their workforce over the coming year in an effort to retain staff and prepare for the recruitment challenge ahead.”