UK Restaurants at Tipping Point as 41% Blame High Staff Turnover and Low Morale on Poor and Inadequate Training

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Under-staffed restaurants are operating with a lack of skill and expertise as new study shows strong link between retention, staff training and happiness.

30 November 2022, Surrey – As the number of job vacancies across the hospitality industry continue to soar, a new, independent study of UK restaurants has revealed a clear link between staff training and the resourcing shortages the industry is facing. Polling hundreds of head chefs and general managers working in restaurants across the country, the survey, which was commissioned by procure-to-pay, catering technology firm, Zupa, revealed that 78% of restaurants believe the pandemic has permanently changed their business. The study also highlighted that lack of staff training is being attributed to a variety of operational issues from staff happiness and low morale, to lack of innovation and even food wastage.

A resounding 97% of workers said high staff turnover is a significant problem for their restaurant and of these, 41% blamed this specifically on poor or insufficient training. Staff training was also cited as the top reason for low staff morale (39%), followed by the burden of being short-staffed (34%) and the frustrations of working within disjointed teams (26%).

Ex-chef and commercial director at Zupa, Neil Shayle, believes that the impact of staffing and lack of continuity is really affecting people on the ground, he said, “Finding the time and budget to invest in training can prove challenging, but this growing inability to attract and retain good people poses a significant risk to the sector, and we are seeing evidence of this within our latest research. By ignoring the need for critical training and engagement programmes that allow staff to grow in confidence and innovate, hospitality businesses are creating a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle which directly impacts their revenue, customer relationships and future profitability. It is vital that operators recognise training as a cornerstone of their people strategy.”

Quality of customer service is another concern for restaurants. In fact, 96% of respondents reported this as a key issue and of those, 47% said they believed it was linked to lack of staff training. Likewise, of those restaurants who claimed they were affected by low staff morale, one quarter (25%) blamed this on a lack of innovation or creativity amongst employees – which in turn was attributed to these top three factors: staff training (32%), limited investment in staff (28%) and lack of people (28%).

“Innovation is crucial in helping restaurants to optimise their guest experience,” says Shayle. “People are eating out less and becoming more selective about where they spend their money. The industry is also under pressure to provide more value as well as a differentiated customer experience, but to achieve this they need happy, experienced and motivated staff who have the freedom and the bandwidth to innovate. Therefore, in a sector struggling to attract and retain staff, the focus has to be on investing in, and freeing up more time for the people you already employ.”

All respondents confirmed that they use outdated, manual processes and 99% admitted things are being side-lined and mistakes are being made due to lack of time. In fact, over half (52%) of restaurant managers said they would spend more time on staff training if they had more hours in their average working day and could reduce the admin burden. Respondents also agreed that even though they often make mistakes, rather than look to technology to solve these, they believe staff training and resourcing is the root cause.

“It’s clear there is a failure to make the connection between long-winded, admin-intensive processes which impact staff motivation, wellbeing and happiness. Automating processes brings significant benefits to restaurants that are buckling under the burden of lack of staff and bandwidth. Recognition that the right technology can help to reduce pressure on over-stretched and short-staffed teams and give them back more hours in their day, will in turn have a direct impact on their day-to-day happiness,” added Shayle. UK restaurants attribute several operational issues to a lack of staff training:

  1. Poor customer service (47%)
  2. Mistakes (42%)
  3. High turnover of staff (42%)
  4. Low staff moral (39%)
  5. Food wastage (36%)
  6. Lack of innovation (32%)


Notes to Editors UK Restaurant survey independently conducted by Censuswide Ltd. between 31 August and 5 September 2022 and commissioned by Zupa Ltd. Surveying 250 general managers, heads of operations, operations directors, procurement and purchasing directors, group executives and head chefs/ executive chefs, working within hospitality and catering in restaurants with more than £1 million turnover, across the UK. Questions were multiple choice, and in some cases, respondents were asked to tick all that apply. Censuswide abides by, and employs members of the Market Research Society, which is based on the ESOMAR principles.