Hospitality employees happier at work than they were, despite mid-level pay squeeze

salary and benefitsSalaries in the hospitality sector have seen a squeeze at the mid-level with a larger number of workers earning less than £30k (up from 30% in 2023 to 37%) and a rise in those earning £60k or more (up from 13% in 2023 to 16% in 2024), according to a major survey of hospitality employees.

The UK’s Largest Hospitality Salary Survey 2024, created by KAM in partnership with Access Group, the BII, Hospitality Jobs UK, Montgomery Group and Otolo, reveals a decrease in salary levels across most sectors of hospitality, with the exception of hotels where average salaries have risen from £42.1k to £44.8k.

According to over 1,300 UK employees taking part in the annual survey the average salary in fast food/cafes has dropped this year from £42.7k to £37k, from £41.2k to £40.2k in full service restaurants and in pubs, clubs and bars has dropped from £41.2k to £40.2k.

The survey, now in its third year, found a decrease in salaries across the main job roles, with the exception of general management, and a decrease for employees at mid-career level and lower, compared with an increase in average salaries for those with 13+ years experience.

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Employee satisfaction amongst respondents had risen, however, with the number of workers reporting a healthy work/life balance up from 51% in 2023 to 59% this year. Some 69% of workers report being happy in their current roles, up from 62%, while 62% expect to be working for the same company in 12 months time, up from 54%. An impressive 82% of employees say they would recommend a career in hospitality, compared with 74% that would have done so last year.

While receiving a fair salary remains the most important benefit cited by employees, the survey reveals employees are placing more emphasis on other benefits including holiday entitlement (cited by 92% of respondents as very or quite important) training and development sessions (88%), flexible hours (83%) and mentoring (75%). The provision of ‘softer’ benefits has also risen in importance such as ‘well-being sessions’ (up 6%), discounts on eating and drinking out (up 10%) and counselling (up 9%).

“It seems the UK’s hospitality sector has worked at improving those areas it was traditionally weaker on – so training and additional benefits. While there has been a slight decrease in average salaries across most sectors, improved employee benefits are going some way to make up for this prompting more employees to be happier in their work. It’s vital this continues in order to retain and attract staff going forward,” commented Access Group’s director of learning Jamie Campbell.

Other findings from The UK’s Largest Hospitality Salary Survey 2024 include:

  • A sharp decrease in pay for 16-18 year olds, but an increase for 19-21s and an increase for salaries for 36-54 year olds
  • 40% of hospitality workers are clocking up 7.5+ additional hours per week, down from 43% in 2023, although more workers are doing up to 2.5 hours over and above their contracted hours, from 26% in 2023 to 30% in 2024 – 62% of employees are not paid extra for working additional hours
  • 50% say they have received sufficient training to feel fully qualified for their role, although 35% saying they haven’t had as much training as they would like to feel confident.

The Salary Survey was conducted in Jan-Feb 2024, with 1,328 respondents across a range of ages, sectors and job types. You can download the full survey by clicking

Tags: benefits, salary


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