In January, Randstad published this year’s HR trends for 13 sectors, including HORECA. In this sector, 12 companies surveyed expect no net revenue decline this year, 58% forecast growth, 25% expect stagnation and the remaining 17% do not yet know. For all respondents, they expect net revenue growth of between 4% and 10%, which is in line with the expectations of the HORECA sector. Among all respondents, the biggest challenges in 2024 will be increased wage and operating costs due to high inflation, and loss of employees due to wage inflation. These factors also pose increased challenges for the HORECA sector.

Looking at the workforce, 33% of respondents representing the HORECA sector expect an increase and 31% expect a decrease. Looking at all industries, 31% decline is the largest of all, while 33% growth is only ranked 7th. This year, fluctuation will be highest in the HORECA sector. The highest rate (64%) will be above 30% this year, which is not a particular surprise for the sector. The reasons for hiring new staff are business growth, national or international growth of the company and the need for new skills.

The biggest HR challenges are related to hiring new employees, retaining existing ones and keeping them engaged. These are mostly resolved by employers through pay rises, training and more flexible working arrangements. In 2023, companies gave more pay rises than they had planned – with the largest increases ranging from 11-15%. On average, pay rises will be lower this year, but increases are expected across the board. In the HORECA sector, most are planning pay rises of between 6-10%, but 42% of respondents are planning pay rises of between 11-15%. This is second only to the transport and logistics sector for all sectors. Employees in all sectors expect higher wage increases than employees plan.

Competitive wages and work-life balance will also be the biggest attractions for companies in 2024. However, the main arguments for changing jobs, apart from pay, were better career development opportunities. These suggest that, in addition to flexible working arrangements, employees would benefit from more transparent and clear career development opportunities to retain their best employees.

The report also covers the state of Artificial Intelligence (AI). According to respondents, they will use AI in the following areas: administration (58% will use it), marketing and advertising (38%), customer service and support (38%), finance and accounting (35%) and HR management (32%). The biggest challenges in using AI will be the lack of competent professionals and managing the security and privacy of data stored in such systems. If we focus on HORECA and try to map these trends, it is difficult to imagine the uptake of these innovations outside the back-office processes of large hotel chains. As these emerging new technologies, regardless of their usefulness, will be extremely expensive to deploy, which the SME-dominated sector would find difficult to afford.