USA Verdict

Labor shortage: the hiccup of the holidays?

Marlène* had been dreaming for months of this family holiday at Club Med, toes fanning under the sun of the French west coast, sipping cocktails by the pool while the “GO”s take care of distracting the children. Successful mission, despite some disappointments. Closed restaurant, irregular room cleaning, overwhelmed staff … If the stay was overall pleasant for the Parisian family, she found the service not really at the price level. And she’s not the only one. On the Internet, reviews left in recent weeks depict for many the same situation and point to the cause: a glaring lack of staff.

“It may be that, from time to time, we have difficulties,” acknowledges Stéphane Durand, Vice-president HR Europe, Middle East and Africa at Club Med, who indicates that the 35 clubs in France must recruit nearly 3,000 people in 2022. And like the entire hotel and restaurant sector, the French holiday village giant is facing a severe shortage of manpower. An ill-timed shortage, when after two years of pandemic, customers are returning in greater numbers than ever.

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10% of employees flown out

The season is approaching and the bosses are shaking: between 250,000 and 300,000 positions would have to be filled, according to representatives of the sector. “This shortage existed before Covid-19: in 2019, we were looking for 150,000 people, recalls Vincent Sitz, restaurateur and chairman of the employment and training commission of the National Group of independent hotel and catering. But the pandemic has accelerated things. »

The long periods of closure of establishments have pushed some employees to take the step of retraining, forced others to take a job elsewhere, discovering the pleasure of no longer working every evening or every weekend. As a result, about 10% of employees would have left the sector.

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Hoping to stop the bleeding, unions and bosses agreed at the beginning of the year on an increase in minimum wages, by 16% on average. Some have thought about new organizations to alleviate the constraints: elimination of the cut-off between evening and noon services, rotating teams for weekends … But to remain attractive, the profession will have to start its introspection.

War of talents

“Young people want to work,” says Vincent Sitz, “but attitudes have changed. “Gone is the career plan that makes you agree to drool over it for ten years hoping to be able to open your own business. Inconceivable, pyramid management where employees have no say. “There is a real demand to be able to participate in the company, to give ideas and to be listened to … ” Constraints are inherent in the profession – a restaurant or a hotel opens when customers are resting –, so it must be made more attractive.

An advantage for Club Med, Stéphane Durand wants to believe, who highlights the “community living experience” offered by a GO season in the mythical villages. Especially since the Frenchman is already making the bulk of his assignments (15,000) at his clubs through internal mobility from one season to the next. And wants to attract young people by strengthening work-study contracts and training to find new talents and anchor them in the profession for good. “This is the new deal: before, the talent war was more about the developer or the data scientist ; today it concerns waiters or household staff. »

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In the immediate future, we will especially have to find arms for the summer. “We shouldn’t have too much trouble with students in July-August, but the most difficult thing is the long and qualified contracts, over the entire season from April to September,” explains Thierry Grégoire, president of the Union des métiers et des industries de l’hôtellerie (Umih) in charge of seasonal workers. As a last resort, bosses can always use foreign labor, as in agriculture. “And when we can’t find it, we will have to close our establishment two days a week, reduce the number of cutlery …” A height when restaurateurs can again operate at full capacity after two seasons marked by health restrictions.

*The first name has been changed.

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