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Misunderstanding between employers and employees: why the hotel and catering industry is struggling to recruit on the Côte d’Azur

Despite the confinements, closures, curfews, gauges imposed to combat the spread of Covid-19, the tourism and leisure businesses have been able to bring customers back to their establishments.

But not the employees. 450,000 people left the profession in France between February 2020 and February 2021, while 213,000 joined it, according to an estimate published by the Department of Research, Studies and Statistics (Dares).

“The tensions in the tourism professions are not only linked to the crisis, but the crisis has exacerbated them” recognized François de Canson, president of the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur regional tourism committee, during the launch of a campaign to promote tourism professions, on April 5 in Nice.

“Salary is not everything”

Most bosses are questioning themselves and say they are ready to offer salary increases, flexibility, well-being at work, motivating salary policy, career development or skills enhancement.

“There is a real awareness”, affirms Bernard Marty, president of the union of professions in the hotel industry (Umih) Paca Corse, determined to fight against the turnover which weakens the profession, by proposing “a rapid rise in responsibility, a shared schedule, a charter of benevolence. Today we are obliged to make an extra effort. Raising salaries is not everything”believes Bernard Marty.

Proposed by the employers’ organizations in December, a new salary scale in the cafes, hotels, restaurants sector ensuring a minimum remuneration of more than 5% of the Smic for the first level of this grid (with a gross hourly rate of 11.01 euros against 10.57 previously) as well as an average increase of 16.33% of the entire grid, applies since April 1.

“We fight to keep the employees”

“We did not wait for the agreements on the grid to increase wagesreacts Denis Cippolini, president of the UMIH of the Alpes-Maritimes, who indicates, by way of example: “A beginner clerk will be able to earn 1,500 euros net per month for a 39-hour weekly contract. It can go up to 3,000 or 4,000 euros. A server between 1,800 and 2,000 euros, depending on seniority. And we are lucky, in this job, to be able to work paid overtime.”

“We can’t go higher because everything is increasing: gas, the electricity we need to work, and food products. Of course we are cutting back on our margins, but one season does not make the year. must ensure the sustainability of the establishments all year round”exposes the boss of Umih 06.

He nevertheless deplores a situation which “drives us to one-upmanship. We sell to the highest bidders. We fight to keep employees and attract new ones. Because here we are going straight into the wall. Some restaurants close on weekends because they cannot find no staff”.

The weekend, a stumbling block?

“When an employee needs his weekend to attend a wedding or a baptism, we always manage to grant it to him. But the reality of the job will not change. We work when people are not working”summarizes the one who is also the boss of the Servotel Saint-Vincent hotel in Nice and the beach The time of a second summer, Promenade des Anglais.

“Hence the idea of ​​a shared agenda software”, revives Bernard Marty. Accessible to all members of the team, it would allow everyone to anticipate by volunteering on weekends without waiting for the employer to appoint them.

The president of Umih Paca Corse is convinced that there will be no lack of volunteers, “It suits some people to work at the weekend to have days off during the week”.

The cut that repels

Another problem is the split between two services which tenses goodwill. “It comes to us from Paris. Given the journey time by metro, the employees there do not have time to go home before returning to work”explains Philippe Cannatella, boss of the Gusto Family group, who is still looking for around thirty employees for the season, in the kitchen and in the dining room, for all of his seven establishments.

“Here we don’t have the amplitude of the big Parisian brasseries, but we are thinking about it. We are trying to find a balance between salary increase, schedule changes and staff support. Our period is changing. In a year, we’ll be good.”

Tourism professions represent 165,000 direct and indirect jobs in Paca. According to Pôle Emploi, 45,000 would still have to be filled to allow establishments to “turn” satisfactorily.

“The quality of work is at the heart of the aspirations of the younger generations”

Cathel Kornig, sociologist from the laboratory of economics and sociology of work in Aix-en-Provence, explains what gets stuck between employers and employees in the tourism sector.

The tourism and leisure professions are struggling to recruit despite proposed salary increases. What’s stuck?

The incomprehension of employers in the face of more attentive candidates, despite salary increases, is not a problem specific to the hotel and catering industry, but to so-called unskilled jobs, such as those of home help. For some of the new entrants, around half, the hotel and catering professions are not passion professions, chosen ones, for which they have been trained, but a springboard for professional integration because it is a sector in which one can work quite easily. It’s a first experience. So there are a lot of young people passing through. But employers also find it very difficult to question the conditions they offer. Another problem, employees who have training, to be able to enhance their CV, climb and make a career, must move and change companies regularly.

What do the younger generations aspire to? Is their approach to work different from that of older generations?

There is a kind of fantasy around the younger generation who no longer want to work hard and who would be, unemployed, too compensated to be forced. When we look at the reality of the amount of unemployment benefit, for more than 40%, it is 500 euros per month. We can’t live with that. Some employers offer more attractive salaries, but it is the quality of work that is at the heart of young people’s aspirations. They want quality work, to have responsibilities, work that makes sense, that allows us to evolve and in which we are recognized as important in the company. The salary is not enough.

It is also related to the moment of life. When you enter the labor market for the first time, you have other aspirations than when you are 50, because you are creating a family, starting out in the profession and dreaming of lots of things. All the active employment policies to reduce unemployment have acted as if there was a responsibility on the part of the job seeker. Everything is focused on the individual. The responsibility of the employer is completely obscured.

How to get out of this impasse?

If we knew, we would have written it already! There is a whole sector regulation to be had. As long as we remain in an individual-centered approach, we are going into the wall. Each of the actors points out the responsibility of the other. Companies that put human capital at the heart of their strategy by listening to their teams, giving them the power to act and the possibility of making proposals keep their employees.

There are work organizations that can counteract the difficulties of the profession, schedules, cuts… If all that is aimed for is competitiveness by reducing costs, including the payroll, by general behind there are recruitment difficulties. While companies which are in a strategic approach of competitiveness by quality are those which have the least problems of recruitment and turnover.

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