Restaurants are struggling to hire as COVID restrictions are lifted. Chains are holding hiring events, adding extra perks, and, in some cases, raising wages. Nearly half of restaurants say they’re “severely understaffed.” See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Restaurant chains are rolling out new perks to hire workers as COVID restrictions lift and business picks back up.

But many companies are having trouble finding employees, so they’re rolling out extra incentives to draw in workers to deal with the job boom. Even getting applicants in the door has been a struggle in some cases, so some chains are turning to large-scale hiring events to screen swaths of candidates at once.

IHOP is hosting a “National Recruiting Day” to fill some of its 10,000 openings, and Taco Bell hosted hiring parties at 2,000 US stores this week to hire 5,000 employees. The chain even interviewed potential workers from their cars.

McDonald’s is looking to hire 25,000 employees in Texas and 8,000 in Tennessee, while Whataburger wants to hire 50,000 new employees. Even getting workers to apply and show up to an interview is proving difficult. A Florida McDonald’s is paying candidates $50 just for an interview and even that isn’t creating enough applicants, Insider previously reported.

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If these events can get candidates in the door, restaurant owners are hoping new perks can get them to actually take the job.

Taco Bell recently expanded benefits for managers, adding extra vacation time, parental leave, and short-term disability benefits. Whataburger made a similar move, promoting all managers to “operating partner,” and raising salaries to at least $100,000. Chipotle is expanding debt-free degree options for employees to include agriculture, culinary, and hospitality programs.

Other restaurants are relying on different incentives, like letting people apply by text message. Blake Casper, the McDonald’s franchisee who paid interview candidates $50, told Insider that he’d had some success with signing bonuses and


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