Around half of hospitality businesses (51%) are facing difficulty hiring suitable members of staff, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Deputy data has shown this is particularly salient in Victoria and New South Wales where businesses are rostering 30% fewer shift work hours compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Deputy’s recently released report, The Big Shift: The Changing Landscape of Australian Hospitality, reveals insights into how the hospitality industry is coping after the pandemic amid widespread labour shortages and supply chain disruptions.

To fill gaps left by migrants, locals are working more hours in hospitality businesses. While Millennials continue to take up the majority of shift work hours, Gen X, Gen Z and Baby Boomers are staffing more shifts.

Sit-down restaurants saw the greatest generational shift with a 5% decline in Millennials, and a 5% increase in Gen Z. If the sector continues to change at this pace, Gen Z will be the largest cohort in sit-down restaurants in five years. Some older workers are even coming out of retirement to join the hospitality industry. Among cafes and coffee shops, the proportion of shift work hours staffed by Gen X grew from 11% to 12%.

Like many other industries, hospitality businesses have made a conscious effort to provide more flexibility and certainty of shifts to encourage women to enter the workforce. Across the industry, women are working 48% of shift work hours, up from 47.9% in 2020. The largest increases for female shift workers were seen in cafes and coffee shops (4%), where women now work most shift work hours.

The share of hospitality shift workers with multiple jobs within the Deputy platform peaked in July 2022 at nearly 3% of shift workers. Additionally, shift workers are working longer hours, even compared to their average shift work hours before the pandemic or during festive seasons when shift work hours tend to peak seasonally.

“Deputy’s industry-focused data analysis shows that Australian businesses are still struggling with labour shortages due to the departure of overseas workers and international students following the pandemic,” Deputy CEO and co-founder, Ashik Ahmed said.

“Despite the struggles they have had to endure, hospitality businesses have displayed tremendous resilience and adaptability. By offering flexible working hours and placing a greater emphasis on mental health and wellbeing, hospitality business owners have successfully enticed more locals to enter the industry to fill the gap left by migrants.

“While hospitality businesses have taken a step in the right direction, it is now time for the government to also do its part to alleviate the pressures these businesses face. To start, they could be granted tax breaks to better manage rising costs of goods and sky-rocketing inflation rates. The government must also strengthen the definition of permanent employees to encourage more locals to join the industry. Long-term, I look forward to seeing increased spending on hospitality training to encourage more Australians to consider hospitality as a viable career option.”