Taco Bell on Tuesday announced its fourth-annual Hiring Parties event as it braces for “continued growth and reopenings.” This provides some insight into what could broadly be in store.
To be held April 21, Taco Bell will convert parking lots into job fairs, with on-the-spot interview opportunities taking place at nearly 2,000 participating company and franchise-run locations nationwide. The goal being to hire at least 5,000 people.
Taco Bell will host these “Hiring Parties” outside (due to COVID) in locations like patio areas. Some stores will even offer “drive-up interviews” where candidates won’t even need to get out of their cars.
“It’s no secret that the labor market is tight, which is why we are thrilled to host our fourth round of Hiring Parties in partnership with our franchisees,” Kelly McCulloch, Taco Bell’s Chief People Officer, said in a statement. “This initiative continues to be successful for us year after year, and we welcome candidates to join in to learn more about what makes Taco Bell a great place to work. We’re eager to welcome prospective new hires into the family and show them why working at Taco Bell can be more than just a job.”
Like Whataburger and other chains, beyond hiring events, Taco Bell continues to bolster its incentives to lure talent—not just from other restaurants and workplaces, but out of the house and from unemployment, too. Recently, it announced GMs at corporate units would have expanded leadership benefits, including up to four weeks of accrued vacation per year. These GMs also now receive four weeks of paid “baby bonding” time for new parents and guardians and eight weeks of fully paid short-term disability after the bird of a child.
Roughly 475 of Taco Bell's 6,800 domestic stores are company-run.
In addition to standard roles, Taco Bell said it’s looking for “bellhops” to support drive-thru service with tablet ordering. This will be part of a real-estate shift complete with multiple new prototypes, including revamped drive-thrus and the “Go Mobile” design.
Taco Bell said it plans to have 10,000 locations open globally this decade.
The brand began its “Hiring Parties” initiative in 2018 with a test at four Indiana locations. These included free food, party games, on-the-spot job interviews, and gift-card signing bonuses. The latter of which generated viral buzz for the chain.
The big draw, though, was Taco Bell ability to skip the advanced application or callback stage of hiring. These events generated nearly 80 in-person applications and 40 new hires out of the gate. More than 300 online applications came in, too.
On a similar labor token, Firehouse Subs said Monday it’s hosting its first national recruiting event from April 6 to April 8, with the goal of filling more than 12,000 roles.
All 1,139 or so locations plan to open the doors from 2 to 5 p.m.
Sonic Drive-In announced in late March, “during a time of unprecedented challenges within the employment landscape,” it would seek to add 20,000 employees.
All three stressed a common point for potential employees, and something almost surely something you’ll hear often in the coming weeks—flexibility. Work-from-home trends and hesitation to reenter the workforce has driven the gig economy to a new level.
“Taco Bell restaurants have as much variety in its job opportunities as it does in its menu,” the company said.
“From Sonic’s iconic carhops to multi-unit leaders, the brand offers a wide range of opportunities centered on the growth and development of employees,” Sonic said. “For the past 26 years, drive-in team members nationwide have participated in a series of individual and team trainings as part of the Dr. Pepper Sonic Games, the brand’s premier training program that strengthens Carhops’ teamwork skills, and guest and operational service. Additionally, many leaders within Sonic have built careers with the brand, from working in the kitchen and serving guests to becoming successful operators and franchise owners.
“Flexible work hours are also available to provide drive-in team members, management and leadership the support needed to succeed in and outside of work,” it added.
Added Firehouse CEO Don Fox: “Our brand is lucky to be in a position where we can expand our restaurant teams and create opportunities within our local communities during these challenging times.”
On the full-service side, Darden announced, starting in late March, tipped and non-tipped employees would now earn at least $10 per hour, including tipped income. The wage is expected to rise to $11 per hour in January 2022 and $12 per hour in January 2023. This is almost surely a sign of things to come as well.
“I think our greatest challenge right now is staffing,” CEO Gene Lee said during Darden’s Q3 review. “It’s staffing, trying to attract people to come to work, that’s why we’re strengthening our employment proposition, which is already strong. We’ve got to staff it, we’ve got to train people. We train people now in a very high-volume environment. As I think about what we’re focused on, it’s really back-to-basics restaurant operations. And one of those things that we focus on is hiring great people and having great certified trainers that are able to train those people to bring our brands to life.”
Darden has invested $200 million in programs benefiting employees since March 2020. On average, hourly workers earn more than $17 per hour, including servers and bartenders, who earn more than $20 per hour, Lee said.