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With the US unemployment rate at 3.7% in June, almost the lowest its been in decades, companies are now actually competing with each other to attract talent. And that includes fast-food chains.
Retailers like Target, Amazon, and Costco have resorted to raising wages but restaurants have chosen to go with perks. From the usual flexible working hours to out-of-the-box perks like four-day workweeks, here are some of the perks that fast-food companies have come up with to stay ahead of the pack:
1 – McDonald’s: Career coaching by influencers
Melissa Kersey, McDonald’s US’ chief people officer, told Business Insider, “Everybody wants to feel recognized, everybody wants to feel valued, everybody, wants flexibility.”
That’s why the company launched “Where You Want To Be” in October which brings experts like rapper Yazz the Greatest and dermatologist Meena Singh to coach a handful of workers on career options. McDonald’s also offers free career and academic advising services to all employees.
2 – Taco Bell: Hiring parties and free meals
Taco Bell employees now get to enjoy free meals.
Julie Felss Masino, president of Taco Bell North America, said, “It’s simple and it’s crazy that we didn’t have it.”
“You know when you work, we’re going to feed you,” Masino continued. “That’s really been a great benefit that people have been really excited about.”
Hiring parties are also one of Taco Bell’s trademark activities with free food flowing in a festive atmosphere. Masino recounted the power of hiring parties based on what happened one time in New York City.
“There was a guy walking by to go apply to McDonald’s and he saw the hiring party and he stopped in and we hired him,” Masino said.
3 – Chipotle: A new bonus program for hourly workers
Chipotle introduced a new quarterly bonus program in June that gives hourly workers the chance to earn up to a month’s worth of extra pay each year as long as they meet certain performance criteria.
Marissa Andrada, Chipotle’s chief people officer, said in a statement, “At Chipotle, we’re not only looking to compete for the industry’s best, but we’re also looking to keep the industry’s best.
“Chipotle is about Cultivating a Better World, building a real community that works together to win together, and this bonus program provides a strategic investment in the people who make up the brand.”
4 – Starbucks: Subsidized childcare
In partnership with Care.com, Starbucks now offers child and elder care benefits. Announced in June, the benefits are applicable to both corporate and in-store employees whether they’re part-time or full-time.
Employees can avail of 10 subsidized backup care days each year. In-home care will be at $1 per hour while in-center backup childcare comes in at $5 per day. Care.com also offers Starbucks employees unlimited senior care planning and free premium membership.
“This is a need across our country. Working parents today have a kid or kids, and also parents or grandparents,” Ron Crawford, vice president of benefits at Starbucks, said.
“Stuff happens from time to time where you have a sick kid or a parent that needs a little bit of assistance — and that can be a little bit of a strain on a working family.”
5 – Shake Shack: A four-day workweek
The four-day workweek is a pretty off-the-box idea but Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti announced the initiative in March.
“Here in Las Vegas, in some of our Shacks, we’re testing a four-day workweek. That’s a big thing. Nobody’s really been able to figure that out in the restaurant business,” Garutti said.
“If we can figure that out on the scale, it could be a big opportunity,” he said. “We’re not promising it yet, but it’s something we’re having fun trying, and seeing how our leaders like it on a recruiting basis and ongoing retention basis.”
6 – Church’s Chicken: new uniforms
As part of its brand refresh initiative, Church’s Chicken and sister brand, Texas Chicken, released new uniforms this year.
Said CEO Joe Christina, “We have very low turnover, especially when we invest in the restaurants. Throughout my career I’ve always seen when you invest in a restaurant, your employees feel like you’re investing in them, which you are.”
He added that updated internal practices combined with new technology help with customer engagement.
“We’ve looked at a variety of different ways, not only the new uniforms that we’ll be rolling out in the restaurants but also our HR practices in the restaurants on how we communicate to those employees, the managers,” Christina said.
“I think it’s a combination of an investment in the restaurant with some of the best training out there in the restaurant business on how to keep those employees engaged, happy, and employed,” he continued.
7 – Dave & Buster: Prize programs for workers who can sell more
According to the Wall Street Journal, workers who can sell more game cards or menu specials are eligible for special prizes from the chain.