A McDonald's manager in Tampa, Florida tried to make a splash by offering $50 to prospective workers just when they show up for an interview earlier this month. Even his boss approved the idea because so few people were applying for positions at the fast-food restaurant. However, even the $50 was not enough to attract people and the sign was removed after two weeks.
On April 15, a Twitter user posted a photo of the sign outside the restaurant, which read "Get $50 for interview." The manager, James Meadowcraft, told the New York Post he "tried to make a little splash." It didn't work. By April 20, the sign was changed to read "Get hired today $11.50/HR." No one responded Meadowcraft told the Post. "I didn't even get anyone trying to scam us."
Regular checkin to how the labor market is right now... pic.twitter.com/pPq6zbCiah— Dan Nunn (@danyay) April 15, 2021
Blake Casper, the franchisee who owns Meadowcraft's restaurant and 59 others in the Tampa area, told Business Insider he supported the idea because they needed more employees. Business at the restaurant is booming because of the popular chicken sandwiches and consumers have a bit more in their pocket because of the stimulus checks. "It's a perfect storm right now," Casper said on April 16. "You've got a lot of people with a lot of money, and they're out there shopping. And then, on the flip side, we're scrambling for help."
While the $50 didn't help, Casper was able to attract employees through referral programs, signing bonuses, and even allowing people to apply for jobs through text messages. Earlier this month, he hired 115 new workers at his 60 restaurants. Still, there are more jobs open and Casper said he was considering raising wages to $12 or $13 per hour. Florida's minimum wage is $8.56 per hour and will go up to $10 by September, MyNews13 notes. During the November 2020 elections, Florida residents approved a constitutional amendment that will make the state's minimum wage $15 per hour by 2026.
For now, Casper believes one reason he hasn't been able to attract as many potential employees as he needs is government assistance. "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 told Insider. "And, how do you blame somebody? You can make more money on unemployment — and so, we've got to be at least above that."
Casper isn't the only business owner in the restaurant industry trying to find unique ways of attracting people to fill low-wage jobs. One McDonald's franchisee, who did not want to be named, told the Post that "a lot of operators" are offering $100 signing bonuses. The operator said he was offering $200 bonuses to new hires who stay at the restaurant for 90 days. "Our staffing levels have not really changed from a few months ago, but the demand (from customers) has gone up dramatically," the operator explained. "Stimulus + tax refunds + pent up demand + extended unemployment has given the food industry an enormous boost all at once."