A McDonald’s franchise owner in Florida is having a hard time keeping his restaurants fully staffed. A restaurant manager in a Tampa McDonald’s suggested that offering a $50 incentive for applicants to show up might be in order. In our strange new pandemic world, job applicants are being bribed to come in for a job interview.
Jazz has recently written about the woes of employers in other states trying to fill jobs. One reason cited is enhanced unemployment benefits. Workers are choosing to stay home and collect unemployment benefit checks rather than going back to work. That could be because the unemployment checks provide a greater income than minimum wage jobs or it could be because of the cycle of closing and re-opening businesses we’ve seen during pandemic lockdowns. This is a Florida story, though, so I assume it has to do with wages. Florida businesses have been open through much of the pandemic.
Even with the offer of paying a job applicant to show up for an interview, there is little response.
Blake Casper, the franchisee who owns the restaurant, told Insider that a general manager and supervisor came up with the idea for the interview reward after he told them to “do whatever you need to do” to hire workers.
“At this point, if we can’t keep our drive-thrus moving, then I’ll pay $50 for an interview,” said Casper, who owns 60 McDonald’s restaurants in the Tampa, Florida area.
You can see the restaurant advertises the offer on the outdoor sign.
Regular checkin to how the labor market is right now… pic.twitter.com/pPq6zbCiah
— Dan Nunn (@danyay) April 15, 2021
Casper says it hasn’t been this difficult to find workers since the late 90s. Business is booming, thanks to the successful launch of a chicken sandwich and he’s scrambling for help. The restaurant has to keep the drive-thru lanes moving. People are shopping and spending their stimulus checks. In order to find workers in his other restaurants, he’s relying on referral programs and signing bonuses. He is considering raising wages but understands why some people may just be staying home right now. He already pays more than minimum wage in his restaurants.
Casper said that, to his surprise, offering people $50 simply to come in for an interview still has not convinced many people to apply for jobs. He has found more success with referral programs, signing bonuses, and allowing people to apply via text message. Last week alone, his 60 restaurants hired 115 new workers.
The labor shortage is also forcing Casper and other franchisees to raise wages. Casper said he is considering raising starting wages from $12 — $3 above Florida’s minimum wage — to $13, in an effort to attract more employees.
“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 said. “And, how do you blame somebody? You can make more money on unemployment — and so, we’ve got to be at least above that.”
The National Federation of Independent Business cites a March survey that found 42% of small business owners said they had job openings that they could not fill. Other McDonald franchisees say they are having difficulty finding employees. As happened pre-pandemic, workers are choosing jobs in retail and gig economy jobs that offer more money and flexible schedules. The summer hiring season is quickly approaching and the lack of employees is causing some restaurants to delay reopening inside dining.
“It’s just craziness out there,” said John Motta, a Dunkin’ franchisee who serves as chairman of the Coalition of Franchisee Association. “People are closing early, people are not opening lobbies.”
“This is the COVID of 2021,” Motta added. “This is the pandemic of 2021 — lack of people to work.”
We’ll see what happens with the wage issue. The National Restaurant Association opposes a $15 an hour minimum wage. McDonald’s, however, doesn’t see minimum wage hikes as a problem.
The National Restaurant Association has opposed federal efforts to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, spending $2.6 million on federal lobbying last year, including lobbying against the Raise the Wage Act.
However, in 2019, McDonald’s told the National Restaurant Association that it would no longer participate in lobbying efforts to oppose minimum wage increases at the federal, state, or local level.
In January, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski told investors the company “developed quite a bit of experience” with minimum wage hikes at the state level, and they haven’t been a problem.
“Our view is the minimum wage is most likely going to be increasing whether that’s federally or at the state level as I referenced, and so long as it’s done… in a staged way and in a way that is equitable for everybody, McDonald’s will do just fine through that,” Kempczinski said.
Florida House Republicans rejected a Democratic effort to increase the maximum unemployment benefit from $275 to $375 per week last week. Governor DeSantis signed a bill that costs Floridians an estimated additional $1 billion a year in online sales taxes to replenish the state’s unemployment trust fund. It also reduces the commercial rent tax for Florida businesses. Whether it is federal stimulus checks or state unemployment, the taxpayer is on the hook.