At a time when hospitality is suffering its worst staffing crisis in living memory, tech startup Limber believes ‘surge pricing’ for staff can help the industry get back on its feet following Covid-19.
Limber, is an app which connects staff wanting to pick up flexible shifts in the hospitality industry with venues looking to fill them. It has introduced a feature allowing workers to increase the hourly rate they’re willing to work for. The feature is especially popular on Friday and Saturday evenings when demand for staff is highest.
Limber’s founder, Chris Sanderson, says: “Our users are reporting Christmas-like levels of demand, with around half the staffing levels. Covid-19 restrictions have made hospitality more labour intensive than ever with requirements such as table service, meeting and greeting, etc a necessity. What should be a period of welcomed profitability for the industry after a tough year, is becoming really challenging.
“In response to this we’ve introduced our own version of ‘surge pricing’. Whenever the app is busy, workers applying to shifts can opt to increase the hourly rate they’re willing to work for. Venues have to pay a bit more but, in the current climate, that might be what it takes to keep the business moving.”
According to data from the Office for National Statistics, almost half of all UK jobs lost over the past year were in the hospitality sector. In the 12 months to March 2021 the total number of paid employees in the country fell by 813,000, with hospitality businesses accounting for 43% of the national total, losing 355,000 employees over the period.
Now those positions are open and need filling again but staff aren’t returning in the numbers hoped for. The fear is that Covid-19 and Brexit have caused hospitality to lose that talent for good.
Chris continues: “The idea of aggregation is really important to us. If we can collect all the unfilled shifts and match them with skilled staff then we can make sure no opportunity to earn goes to waste. It’s vital to both support the industry and help people get back on their feet financially. There also needs to be a focus on nurturing young talent and strengthening the pool of skilled hospitality workers – it’s a fantastic industry to be a part of but it’s facing a real crisis.”