By James Atkinson

Top level chefs and venue managers are now in such high demand that hotel, bar and restaurant owners may be forced to offer up a stake in their business to attract and retain talent, a leading recruitment firm has predicted.

A total of 67 per cent of employers surveyed by Michael Page Hospitality & Leisure reported that skills shortages would cause salaries in the sector to rise above the inflation rate in the next 12 months.

The recruiter's 2013/14 Salary and Employment Forecast also found that more than a third of employers (34 per cent) thought it would be difficult for them to maintain headcount in the current climate.

Michael Page Hospitality & Leisure senior consultant Warren Coxall told TheShout the roles in highest demand in pub, bar and restaurant groups are executive chefs and venue managers.

He said that depending on their level of experience, executive chefs now command salaries of between $90,000 and $130,000 in most Australian states.

Venue managers meanwhile can command anywhere from $65,000 to $120,000, depending on the venue.

But with the best candidates able to command a salary increase of 10 to 15 per cent every time they move jobs, Coxall said salary alone may not be enough to ensure their loyalty.

"Do businesses start to offer people, at that level, a stake in the business?" he asked. 

"It's not something that's really happening out there in high volume, but there are certainly businesses out there that are discussing whether or not that's an option."

Coxall said the increased competition for talented kitchen staff is partly a result of fine dining restaurants scaling back to become more casual, and pubs and small bars providing more sophisticated alternatives to what they have in the past.

"People still want to be in a nice trendy environment and have award-winning food but they want to do it at a good price point," he said.

"Competing venues in the past may have been polar opposites to one another. There's been some narrowing of that gap."

Find your "employment value proposition"

Michael Page Hospitality & Leisure national director Richard Wynn said that aside from money, an attractive brand and location, candidates are looking for an "employment value proposition" (EVP).

"An EVP is an attraction strategy, it's a retention strategy. If companies don't have them – they should start thinking about why somebody should work for you or why should they stay working for you."

Wynn said a company's EVP may be comprised of any number of factors including hours of work, fringe benefits, whether the new hire can get involved in business strategy, and how much they are valued and respected.

"EVP is definitely more prevalent in the hospitality sector than I've ever known it," he said.

Wynn warned employers that they have to move fast to secure top talent.

"It's a very candidate short market at the moment, so candidates typically are in numerous hiring processes," he said.

"If a hiring manager wants to drag his feet, nine times out of ten you will miss out on that candidate – you've got to move very quickly."

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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