waiter by swimming pool

Solutions for hotel staff shortage to be tested this summer

… particularly in the Algarve

Has enough been done to solve the hotel sector’s staff shortages, which proved to be a critical issue in 2022?

This summer will provide the answer, according to the president of the Portuguese Association of Hotel Managers (ADHP).

Speaking to Lusa news agency, Fernando Garrido expressed his optimism about the measures that have been implemented, such as salary increases and ‘immigration agreements’ with other countries to attract foreign workers.

“The results will come exactly during the high season, particularly in the Algarve, one of the regions most affected. There were even hotels that did not reopen after the pandemic because of a shortage of staff,” Garrido said, adding that the same is true for the rest of the country.

His interview with Lusa came as a prelude to the association’s 19th congress, which will be held in Albufeira on March 30 and 31 and will focus on these very issues.

The ADHP boss says there are already more workers in the sector as a result of the measures implemented so far – as well as policy changes which have kept employees under contract during the low season to guarantee they will be available to work during the high season.

“The paradigm has changed,” he said, admitting that companies would let workers go when demand started to drop.

“This year, we (hoteliers) ensured their jobs during the low season, so that later we wouldn’t have to re-hire and train new workers all over again,” Garrido explained.

But this paradigm shift may not be enough to solve the sector’s issues, even if there has been an increase in hotel staff.

“We do not know if it will be enough. We actually believe it won’t,” he said, adding that hotel workers continue to be faced with exceptionally long working hours with few, if any, days off.

“This is a business that operates 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, and it is inevitable that workers have to work Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. We have to find a balance. Only by providing this balance will we be able to attract workers,” Garrido added.

In other words, hotel managers are beginning to understand that by providing good working conditions to employees, they are also ensuring a quality experience to their guests.

Garrido admitted that the shortage of staff saw the quality of hotel services decrease.

While most workers used to have some training in the hospitality industry, hotels are now hiring people who lack any kind of training.

“The whole process of hiring workers has changed in the industry. We used to welcome workers who we knew had some training. Since last year, we started hiring people with no training at all, and we ourselves started providing the training,” he said.

Whether the measures introduced will help the sector get back on track is something that will only become clear when hotels are at their busiest, which will be as soon as this summer, if not before at Easter.

By Michael Bruxo
[email protected]