Industry in Focus: Sports, Leisure and Hospitality in the UK


Our ‘Industry in Focus’ series reviews the current and future people-related challenges facing key industries and uncovers the role that technology will play in resolving those challenges. In this edition, we look at the sports, leisure and hospitality industry – a sector that has rebounded after a tough three years but is facing significant talent attraction and retention challenges.

Post-pandemic people challenges

From guest services to ticketing and sales, through to security, catering and cleaning, the list of job roles that contribute to putting on a sporting, entertainment or business-related event is daunting.

And while the pandemic caused major disruption to the UK’s workforce, the impact was most acutely felt in those sectors that rely heavily on temporary skilled migrants and casual workers. Fortunately, the sector has rebounded and events are now back – but with that rebound comes significant HR challenges, including:

·         A labour shortage

It’s not so much about a skills shortage as it is a shortage of people, full-stop. COVID-19 and the impact of Brexit resulted in many EU and international workers leaving the UK. Many have been slow to return, having been attracted to better pay in industries that require working Monday to Friday with weekends off – conditions that don’t apply to events and stadia workers.

·         Employee retention

Staff retention is a challenge for any organisation that relies heavily on casual workers. In a pre-pandemic survey, 47% of respondents said it would be difficult to retain talent in the next year.[1] This situation has worsened since the pandemic eased. Employers have had to prioritise the overall employee experience (EX). The EX covers all touchpoints employees have with their employer, from recruitment and onboarding through to learning opportunities, career paths and day-to-day activities such as rostering.

·         Financial pressures

The industry has faced unprecedented pressure with inflation at a 40-year high, supply chain disruption and soaring energy prices. Rising operating costs for labour, goods and services means budgeting and value for money have become even more significant. Innovative technology and smart use of labour are helping to alleviate these pressures.

Industry in Focus

Our fact sheet outlines the current people-related challenges facing sports, leisure and hospitality employers in more detail. It also provides insight into how these challenges are being navigated – including how optimising employee rosters and careful scheduling with workforce management software can help ease the pressures of skills shortages and high employee turnover.

Keen to know more? Complete the form to download Humanforce’s ‘Industry in Focus: Sports, Leisure and Hospitality in the UK’.


[1] UK Events Industry Board Talent Taskforce Survey, December 2018