Get a Hiring Bonus From These Entry-Level Jobs


Illustration for article titled Get a Hiring Bonus From These Entry-Level Jobs

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Even as sales at retail chains improve, a low labor participation rate has caused a shortage of workers, leading some companies to offer perks like boosted wages, hiring bonuses, and even subsidized tuition to lure in employees. If you’re vaccinated and looking for a job, this might be a good time to shop around.

The labor crunch is real

A National Federation of Independent Businesses report found that in March, 42% of small business owners reported having jobs they couldn’t fill. As result, chains like Costco and Kroger have increased their hourly wage, some like Subway and Dunkin’ have reduced their hours in some locations, and other chains are setting up massive recruitment events to attract new employees.

According to QSR, a fast-casual news site, some Taco Bell locations are even interviewing candidates from their cars, drive-thru style. In probably the most extreme example of desperation, one McDonald’s franchise even offered to pay applicants $50 just to be interviewed.

Take advantage, if you’re looking

It’s a sellers’ market for entry-level positions, which means you can shop around a bit, comparing hourly wages and benefits before you commit to a job. You could also ask upfront if they have off any incentives, like extra pay, especially for overnight shifts—which were notoriously hard to staff even before the pandemic. That’s why it can’t hurt to ask and negotiate a bit, especially if another company is hiring for a similar job down the road.

Below is a list of hiring incentives or bonuses meant to attract applicants. It’s by no means comprehensive, as the offers vary by locality and franchise owner, especially if they’re a restaurant chain, but it should help give you an idea of what’s out there to look for:

  • Chipotle is offering subsidized college tuition to employees who work at least 15 hours a week after four months on the job. The company has also introduced 24/7 access to healthcare experts for employees they could access on mobile devices.
  • Kroger and Costco raised their hourly pay to $16 last March.
  • FedEx is adding $2 an hour to the wages of evening employees at its World Hub in Memphis, Tennessee.
  • Portillo’s Hot Dogs, an Illinois-based chain, boosted hourly wages in select markets and is offering $250 hiring bonuses.
  • Per Insider, Taco Bell has recently enhanced benefits for managers, with short-term disability benefits, extra vacation time, and parental leave.
  • Darden, which owns chains like Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse, announced last month that tipped and non-tipped employees would now earn at least $10 per hour, which will rise to $11 per hour in January 2022 and $12 per hour in January 2023.

This post was updated April 27, 2021 to reflect that Olive Garden is owned by Darden Restaurants, not Red Lobster, as it was originally written.