Better benefits, including faster pay, show that your brand understands and respects its hourly associates.

The backbone of the restaurant industry is its workers. That’s a reality the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent labor shortage drove home to any operators who may have been reluctant to acknowledge it beforehand. 

“It’s time for employers to catch up with the times and start treating front-line associates like kings and queens,” says Stewart Stockdale, co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Rellevate, a digital banking services platform. “I’ve run Fortune 500 companies, and we’ve always said hourly employees need to be at the top of the pyramid.”

Restaurants depend on their employees bringing their best every day. To do so, people need to feel safe, empowered, and valued. What’s more—if they aren’t getting those needs met, they’ll take their work to the next company or industry. As the gig economy grows stronger, the flexibility of working on an as-needed basis is drawing many people away from shift-based work—and replacements aren’t so easy to come by anymore. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently found there are 1 million fewer workers in the hospitality industry today than in 2019.

“The world is changing, and the quick-service industry has to rethink its employment practices,” Stockdale says. “To say that ‘people don’t want to work’ is shortsighted. People have real reasons they stopped working or switched industries—from not wanting to get sick from face-to-face interactions and covering childcare needs to needing more flexible hours, benefits, and on-demand pay.”

Replacing former employees is a costly line item. A recent case study from Rellevate found each new hourly quick-service hire is a $2,000 expense. With turnover rates in the quick-service industry exceeding 100 percent, that compounds quickly.

So restaurants are raising pay, improving benefits, and getting creative with other perks. For many lower- and middle-income workers, higher wages make a big difference—and so does faster pay. According to CareerBuilder, 78 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and 44 percent have not been able to save $400 in case of an emergency. If these workers have a single unforeseen expense, like a car breaking down or a child getting sick, they may have nowhere to turn. Predatory payday loans can charge 250 percent interest.

“If you want to retain your best employees, you have to offer better benefits, including faster pay,” Stockdale says. “A sense of urgency in terms of pay is extremely important. If I’m an employee, I want to get paid right away—I don’t want to wait two weeks. It’s not just the amount of pay that counts, but also when and how I get paid.” 

Rellevate’s Pay Any-Day and the Rellevate Digital Account allow employees to receive pay on their terms without taking out a loan. It is an advance. For employers, it is zero-cost to execute, and provides employees security within uncertainty by offering a financial wellness benefit with minimal fees.

“If you really want to attract and retain the best and brightest, you need to go above and beyond,” Stockdale says. “Rellevate can help quick-service brands get there.” 

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By Kara Phelps

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