Dick’s Drive-In, a burger joint based in Seattle, pays its employees $19 to $20 an hour, plus benefits.
A TikTok filming the busy staff with the caption “no labor shortage here” recently went viral.
But Dick’s is still struggling to hire enough workers, the chain’s president told Insider.
Dick’s Drive-In, a popular burger joint based in Seattle, recently went viral on TikTok after a customer filmed what appeared to be a fully-staffed restaurant with the caption “no worker shortage here,” sparking labor-shortage debates in the comments.
Unfortunately, the family-owned fast-food chain is not immune to the nation’s hiring challenges, the company’s president told Insider. Despite a recent wage bump and competitive benefits, Dick’s is still struggling to fill positions at its seven locations along Interstate 5 in Washington state.
“We are making some progress on hiring but we’re definitely not fully staffed – not at that location or any of our locations yet,” Dick’s Drive-In President and CFO Jasmine Donovan said. “We’re doing the best that we can.”
As highlighted in the TikTok, Dick’s Drive-In raised its hourly wages from $18 an hour to $19 an hour in late September, with its two busiest locations paying a $20 minimum wage. Non-managerial employees can make up to $21.75 per hour if they pass a skills test.
On top of the wage raise, Dick’s reduced its eligibility requirements for employees to access funds available for childcare and scholarships. The chain previously required staff to work for at least six months before they could take advantage of this benefit. Now, workers are eligible as soon as they pass the skills test, which takes an average of 12 weeks.
“One reason why she sees a kitchen that has what appears to be the right number of people in place is because people are picking up extra hours and extra shifts,” Donovan told Insider, discussing the TikTok video.
She said employees’ average hours have decreased substantially compared to before the pandemic, causing a select group of people to constantly take on additional hours. Overworked staff often suffer from burnout, she said, which has led some workers to quit or request substantial time off.
Dick’s Drive-Ins are usually open from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. While the late-night hours may contribute to hiring challenges, Donovan said they are a main reason why the chain can afford to pay for employee scholarships and other benefits. Due to understaffing, two of the seven locations have been forced to close early.
As for reasons behind the labor shortage, Donovan said childcare is a “huge challenge for people.”
“It’s unreliable. It’s really hard to get childcare here in this area,” she told Insider. “There are also people who are either afraid of COVID or afraid of the vaccine, and then there are people who are afraid of both,” she added.
At the same time, Dick’s is struggling to compete with holiday hiring, Donavan said. Amazon, which is also based in Seattle, announced plans to recruit 150,000 seasonal workers for the holidays with a starting pay of $18 an hour and signing bonuses up to $3000.
“It’s not unreasonable to expect that they would go work that job for three months and then come work for me,” she explained. “It may be that more of the people that would typically work for us are going be more interested in our jobs after the holidays, I hope.”
Jasmine Ritter, a 22-year-old senior crew member, told Insider that she was able to get a theater scholarship through her job at Dick’s.
“I have a lot of student loans, and being able to have a consistent job during these times as well as get pay raises and bonuses throughout has been amazing,” she said.
“I’m glad she was proud to share her local restaurant and what we do for our employees,” Donovan said about the customer’s TikTok. “We want to be fully staffed and we’re working hard to do that.”
Read the original article on Business Insider