Lack of staff in hotels: Not even a pot outside?

Status: 2012-06-19 04:53

During the pandemic, many employees from the hospitality and catering industry emigrated. Now they are missing just before the summer business. Some companies are creative about this.

Author: Markus Pfalzgraf, SWR

The water from the Danube spring near Furtwangen in the Black Forest is drinkable – cool and clear, bubbling from the rocks. If you want to drink something different, you have to be patient on this summer day, because the terrace of the nearby hotel restaurant is still closed. Due to the lack of staff.

The Kolmenhof in Furtwangen has been a family business for the third generation. Senior boss Franz Dold took over the hotel and restaurant from his parents 35 years ago. Currently, the company is run by his son Christoph. Franz Dold reports that there has always been a shortage of staff in the region. A strong industry in the area has always attracted and withdrawn workers from the catering industry. But he has never experienced a situation like this: companies sometimes hire people without applications, the need is so great.

There was indeed a solution to the lack of staff in the company: two Romanian employees were recruited. But now they’re being canceled for family reasons – right before the summer season. Now the Dold family has hired two Ukrainians who (still) do not speak German. The induction is going well, says Franz Dold. Elsewhere in Baden-Württemberg, hoteliers have found what they are looking for in Morocco and recruit chefs there.

Black Forest or Lake Constance, the same problems everywhere

Hotels need to be creative not only with their employees, but also with their offer. The Kolmenhof only opens to restaurant guests in the afternoon and closes earlier in the evening. Before that, only hotel guests could be served. In addition, there are now two days of rest. “We used to have a seven-day week and three shifts a day,” says Franz Dold. I definitely don’t want to save on quality. He would prefer to limit the menu or suggest simpler dishes.

This is confirmed by Horst Müller of the Winzerstube Hagnau on Lake Constance: “I don’t know anyone with enough staff,” he says. There is no restriction on the activities of the hotel and partial closure cannot be made. That is why many restricted the activities of the restaurant. Additional days of rest can be implemented, for example, in restaurants, but not in hotels – here guests must be able to book at any time and for as long as they wish. This is what many hoteliers on Lake Constance and in the Black Forest report.

Reducing bureaucracy or recruiting abroad?

The problem, especially in heavily industrialized regions, is that skilled workers are being squeezed out. The DEHOGA hotel and restaurant association complains about targeted campaigns, especially during the Corona period. Many workers who were looking for another job during the pandemic, also due to closure, no longer return. Many companies report this. But for some, working hours are also an issue. Many employees pay more attention to reconciling work, family and leisure time.

And even if those interested have no problem with unusual working hours, they may find that they have reached their limits: for Roland Birkenmeier, who runs the Löwe country inn in Breisgau near Freiburg, working hours and conditions are too tightly regulated. If its employees have reached their weekly number of hours, they may have to close early – even if it’s a Sunday.

This hurts business for him and his colleague Dold in Furtwangen. They both suspect that gastronomy is no longer interesting, especially for young people. And this despite the fact that it is a varied job where you can move around a lot, as Dold and Birkenmeier think. They want less bureaucracy – and more is done with double training.

Don’t even think about retiring

This is also how the association of hotels and restaurants perceives it. DEHOGA’s CEO Ingrid Hartges emphasizes the importance of dual training. It also gives qualifications that people may later need elsewhere. It also calls for the simplification of the recruitment of skilled workers from countries outside the EU.

In Furtwangen in the Black Forest, the Dold family is supported by two Ukrainian employees. But the older boss and his wife still need to help – even though they were actually retired. And now the summer season has come. Franz Dold says, “Now it really begins.”

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