29 Sept 2022

EDITORIAL: Staff shortages? Employers are often the problem...

In this week's Nationalist

Business handshake

A debate dominating public discussion is the current hospitality staff shortage, a problem that has become particularly acute during tourist season. Many employers impacted have attributed the problem to an entitled younger generation’s work-shy mentality.

But is this true? As Ireland has one of the most educated workforces in the world, perhaps it’s time we asked the real questions. What wages are we expecting people to work for?

We can’t continue to expect young people not to know their rights and accept substandard working conditions. As Ireland has the highest college contribution fees in the EU and sky-high rents, most students are forced to endure their own hospitality horror stories.

It’s not uncommon to have young people expected to work for below the minimum wage, not receive their tips or work zero hour contracts. Too many employers became comfortable with the idea of having a high staff turnover, never held accountable for why so many disgruntled employees are throwing in the towel.

Employers can’t be expected to rely on staff afraid to uphold their rights. In a world of the internet, a quick google search can tell you your entitlements that are supported by our legislation for a reason.

We can’t lament the lack of Irish workers in our hospitality sector if we refuse to offer them proper working conditions.

The pandemic gave workers a buffer, a time to retrain and regroup. When some students could work from home to save on rent, returning to undesirable workplaces became an option rather than a necessity.

For the businesses that do value their staff, the staff turnover is less as the benefits of staying are higher.

While the shortage may still be felt, a living wage and abiding by workers’ rights is a guaranteed solution to filling vacancies.

As a rich, developed country, we can’t be expected to accept the crooked mentality of exploitation at a time of hyper-inflation.

It’s time for business owners to ask not what your employees can do for you, ask what you can do for your employees?

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