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Staff shortages spreading to almost all sectors, survey finds

Staff shortages spreading to almost all sectors as one in four mid-sized firms struggle to operate at normal levels

  • Mid-sized firms across almost all sectors have reported staff shortages
  • Almost a third of firms polled said they will raise prices in the coming months 
  • Expect ‘significant’ knock-on impact on consumers as we approach Christmas 


Staff shortages are spreading from the haulage, hospitality and farming sectors to almost all parts of the economy, putting ‘severe pressure’ on mid-sized businesses, a new survey has found.

More than one in four of the 500 UK companies polled said the lack of staff and reduced stock caused by supply chain disruption were making it hard for them to continue operating at normal levels.

Almost a third of firms have said they will raise prices in the coming months, which will have a ‘significant’ knock-on impact’ on consumers just as we approach Christmas, accountancy and advisory firm BDO said.

Hiring spree: Nearly a fifth of firms said they had upped their wages to attract staff

Meanwhile, over a third of firms have responded to the crisis by reducing product lines, with a similar proportion expecting this to continue in the coming months and others seeing fewer products become a long-term issue.  

Nearly a fifth of mid-sized firms also said they had upped their wages to attract staff, which will add to already high levels of inflation, while others introduced perks.  

‘Brexit, global supply chain issues and the long tail of Covid-19 has created a perfect storm for UK businesses,’ said Ed Dwan, partner at BDO.

‘After navigating the challenges of the pandemic and hoping for some respite, businesses have found themselves facing more major disruption, with those across almost all sectors reporting staff shortages.

‘This is an era of upheaval, and the challenges faced by the UK’s mid-tier – the engine of the UK’s economy – points to a long road ahead.’

Medium sized businesses, which are defined as those with revenue between £10milion-£300million, represent one in four jobs across the economy, BDO said. 

The survey adds evidence to the crisis sweeping the country, with fuel shortages and empty food shelves caused by a lack of HGV drivers expected to last for months to come.

Last month, big supermarkets like Tesco warned customers to expect the return of panic buying in the run up to Christmas, as bosses urged the Government to ease restrictions on foreign workers to help alleviate the supply chain crisis.

However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson dismissed calls for ‘uncontrolled immigration’ this weekend, arguing the country is going through a ‘period of adjustment’ to a higher-wage economy after Brexit.  

Last week, even the Brexiteer boss of Wetherspoons said the pub chain was struggling to recruit staff in some parts of England. 

The hospitality sector has been particularly affected by a shortage of staff, with one in six jobs currently vacant, according to another survey out today.

The poll of 200 hospitality businesses like pubs and restaurants shows that less than one in five bosses were confident about finding and retaining staff over the coming year. 

That’s a ‘dramatic collapse’ from the near 70 per cent who felt confident in the last survey just three months ago.

Fuel shortages and empty food shelves caused by a lack of HGV drivers are expected to last for months

Fuel shortages and empty food shelves caused by a lack of HGV drivers are expected to last for months

The shortage of staff is prompting business leaders to step up efforts to attract and keep hold of staff, with three quarters saying they have already upped wages to attract employees.

Businesses that have increased pay have done so by an average of 11 per cent for current staff, and by 13 per cent for newly hired team members. 

Others have tried to ‘cultivate the right working culture’ and ‘support staff wellbeing and mental health’, according to the business confidence survey by consultancy CGA and technology services firm Fourth.

‘Hospitality is nothing without people and the sector is in a desperate battle to find the staff it needs to rebuild after a devastating 18 months,’ said Sebastien Sepierre, managing director – EMEA, Fourth.

‘With the right business landscape, hospitality has the potential to drive the UK’s economic recovery. But the current operational environment is extremely tough and these results lay bare the workforce challenges senior leaders must solve, especially in light of the key festive trading period on the horizon.’  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk