7 perks fast-food chains are offering as they attempt to win over workers in the war for talent

  • Fast-food chains like McDonald’s, Chipotle, and Taco Bell are desperately trying to hire and retain workers.
  • US unemployment is hovering near its lowest point in decades, hitting 3.7% in June according to government data.
  • Chains are adding new perks to win over workers, such as Shake Shack which is testing a four-day work week and Chipotle’s new bonus system.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Fast-food chains are desperately seeking workers.

With US unemployment hovering near its lowest point in decades, hitting 3.7% in June according to government data, companies are scrambling to win over employees.

While retailers such as Amazon, Target, and Costco have raised wages, restaurant chains have primarily focused on perks.

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Some perks are more common, such as flexibility in hours and career coaching. Other chains are thinking outside the box, such as Shake Shack, which is testing a four-day work week, and Chipotle, which is adding a new bonus system.

Here are some of the best perks that fast-food chains have rolled out over the past year:

Career coaching from influencers at McDonald’s


In October, McDonald’s launched a campaign called “Where You Want To Be,” which partners a handful of workers with experts, including rapper Yazz the Greatest and dermatologist Meena Singh, to discuss career options. The fast-food chain also launched a service pairing all restaurant employees with free career and academic advising services.

“Everybody wants to feel recognised, everybody wants to feel valued, everybody wants flexibility,” Melissa Kersey, McDonald’s US’ chief people officer, told Business Insider at the time.

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McDonald’s adds new perks for employees as fast-food chains battle for workers

Taco Bell offers free meals and hiring parties


Taco Bell only recently started offering free meals to employees.

“It’s simple and it’s crazy that we didn’t have it,” Julie Felss Masino, president of Taco Bell North America, told Business Insider.

“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.”

Taco Bell is also known for its hiring parties, which offer free food in a festive atmosphere along with on-site applications and interviews. Masino recalled a story from a New York City hiring party that highlights their power.

“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.

New bonus program for hourly workers at Chipotle


In June, Chipotle announced that it would debut a new quarterly bonus program that allows hourly workers to earn up to an extra month’s pay each year. Employees need to meet certain criteria, such as sales, cashflow, and throughput goals, to earn the bonuses.

“At Chipotle, we’re not only looking to compete for the industry’s best, we’re looking to keep the industry’s best,” Marissa Andrada, Chipotle’s chief people officer, said in a statement

“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,” Andrada continued.

Starbucks subsidizes workers’ child care


In October, Starbucks announced it had partnered with Care.com to offer all employees – both corporate and in-store, part-time and full-time – a new range of child and elder care benefits.

Employees have 10 subsidized backup care days a year, with in-home care costing just $US1 per hour and in-center backup childcare costing $US5 per day. All Starbucks workers will also have access to unlimited senior care planning and a premium membership to Care.com for free.

“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, told Business Insider at the time.

“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.”

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Shake Shack tests a four-day work week


In March, Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti revealed that the chain had been testing out a four-day work week.

“Here in Las Vegas, in some of our Shacks, we’re testing a four-day work week. That’s a big thing. Nobody’s really been able to figure that out in the restaurant business,” Garutti said, according to Bloomberg.

“If we can figure that out on 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.”

Church’s Chicken debuts new uniforms


This year, Church’s Chicken and its sister brand, Texas Chicken, rolled out new uniforms for employees as part of its brand refresh.

“We have very low turnover, especially when we invest in the restaurants,” CEO Joe Christina told Business Insider. “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.”

Christina said that new technology and updated internal practices can help in engaging customers.

“We’ve looked at a variety of different ways, not only our 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.

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Dave & Buster’s workers win prizes if they can sell more than coworkers


The Wall Street Journal reports Dave & Buster’s workers who sell more menu specials or game cards can earn prizes from the chain.