Food, folks, and funds.
Blake Casper, the franchisee owner of the fast-food eatery, said to Business Insider that a general manager and supervisor dreamed up the concept of an interview reward after he instructed them to “do whatever you need to do” to get new employees.
“At this point, if we can’t keep our drive-thrus moving, then I’ll pay $50 for an interview,” said Casper, who is the proud owner of 60 McDonald’s restaurants in the Tampa, Florida area.
As businesses across the country struggle to reopen and look to restaff while competing with supercharged unemployment benefits, the number of fresh applicants has been drastically slashed, Casper says. According to the restaurant owner, it hasn’t been this hard to hire fresh employees since the late 1990s.
While fast-food chains try to meet the challenge of attracting new staff, Casper has confirmed that McDonald’s business has never done better, courtesy of the popular introduction of the chicken sandwich and customers willing to spend more money from their stimulus checks.
“It’s a perfect storm right now,” Casper noted.
“You’ve got a lot of people with a lot of money, and they’re out there shopping,” he continued. “And then, on the flip side, we’re scrambling for help.”
Casper remarked that to his amazement, trying to lure people to apply for new positions with $50 still has not seen a significant increase in applicants. He said that his establishments have had more success with referral programs, signing bonuses, and letting people apply with text messages. In just the last week, the owner said that his 60 restaurants hired 115 new employees.
The shortage of workers is also pressuring Casper and other business owners to raise wages. Casper said he is mulling raising the entry level wages from $12 — which is $3 higher than Florida’s minimum wage — to $13 in a desperate attempt to draw in more workers.
“The biggest challenge out there is the federal government and the state government are going to continue with this unemployment, because that is truly creating the incentive to not work right now,” Casper stated. “And, how do you blame somebody? You can make more money on unemployment — and so, we’ve got to be at least above that.”
A survey conducted in March by the National Federation of Independent Business discovered that 42% of small business owners reported they had positions open that they could not fill.
“We are struggling to get people,” another McDonald’s franchisee said to Business Insider.
“I don’t have enough,” reported the franchisee, who did not give their name in order to speak openly about the situation. “Can’t get enough. Wish I had enough.”
While experts insisted that enhanced unemployment benefits might be at the root of hiring struggles, they argued that restaurants were having similar problems before the pandemic.
Credit Suisse analyst Lauren Silberman reported to Business Insider that although unemployment is a component, most people are still eager to work if they have the chance. In the past, workers have had more choices, including retailers that promise a $15-per-hour entry-level wage and a booming gig economy that provided more control and flexibility.
“I think there’s a fear element” stopping people from seeking jobs at restaurants, Silberman acknowledged. “Because these are frontline workers, and we’re still in the midst of a pandemic.”
“It’s just craziness out there,” remarked John Motta, a Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee who chairs the Coalition of Franchisee Associations. “People are closing early, people are not opening lobbies.”
“This is the COVID of 2021,” Motta continued. “This is the pandemic of 2021 — lack of people to work.”