7 Restaurants Offering Better Pay and Perks to Fill 160,000 Jobs

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Young woman works in a fast food restaurant
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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder.

Desperate restaurant chains looking to hire thousands of employees are offering higher wages, signing bonuses and referral bonuses.

McDonald’s announced it is raising pay at corporate-owned stores for existing and new employees to $11 to $17 an hour for entry-level positions and $15 to $20 an hour for shift managers. It wants to hire 10,000 people.

The need for employees is so high, one McDonald’s franchisee in Tampa, Florida, has offered $50 to anyone who comes in for an interview. Several Subway stores in Minnesota are offering a $1,000 signing bonus to managers who successfully complete their 90-day training program. The sandwich chain needs to hire 40,000 employees.

Nationally, the median pay for food and beverage servers at restaurants including fast food was $11.63 an hour in 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But now is the time to lock in higher pay and other perks because restaurants can’t increase staff fast enough as pandemic restrictions drop.

Whataburger: 50,000 jobs

Whataburger fast food restaurant
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In April, Whataburger tried to entice job applicants with a virtual leadership conference featuring NBA All-Star David Robinson and Aarón Sánchez, celebrity chef and TV personality.

The company provided more than $90 million in bonuses in the past year to employees for persevering during the pandemic and severe weather, it stated.

The burger chain plans to open 37 new locations this year and beef up its staff at more than 700 existing stores. With stores open around the clock, it needs a lot of employees.

Wages: An average of $10 an hour for team members and $44,000 annually for management, according to Glassdoor.

Perks: Emergency pay, increased 401(k) matching and bonuses.

How to apply: Go to the website.

Subway: 40,000 jobs

Subway restaurant
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The sandwich chain is filling entry-level to management positions at 20,000 stores across the country. Some franchises are offering $1,000 bonuses for new managers.

Wages: Average of $10 an hour for crew members and $15 an hour for management, according to Glassdoor.

How to apply: Go to the Subway website.

Chipotle Mexican Grill: 20,000 jobs

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The quick-service Mexican chain hopes to hire 20,000 new employees to handle the peak summer season and 200 new restaurants.

It’s raising crew members’ pay to $11 to $18 an hour, resulting in an average hourly wage of $15. It’s also offering referral bonuses to employees who help recruit a new hire. A referral that results in a new crew member is worth $200, while a referral for an apprentice or general manager gets a $750 bonus.

Wages: $11 to $18 for crew members, according to the company.

Perks: Pay increases, referral bonuses, 401(k), educational programs.

How to apply: Go to the Chipotle website.

Starbucks: 20,000 jobs

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The coffee giant is hiring for various positions across the country. Some stores need several employees, while others are fully staffed. A few clicks on a map on the company website shows applicants what jobs are available in their area.

Wages: Average hourly wage for baristas is $12, and the average annual salary for managers is $59,000, according to Glassdoor.

Perks: Parental leave, up to $10,000 reimbursement for adoption, surrogacy or fertility procedures, 100% of tuition reimbursement for a bachelor’s degree through Arizona State University’s online program, 401(k) matching.

How to apply: Go to this website.

Applebee’s: 10,000 jobs

Applebee's restaurant
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This longtime staple in casual dining hosted a National Hiring Day in mid-May and is continuing to recruit for a variety of positions at locations across the country.

Wages: Average hourly wage for servers is $10; for line cooks, it’s $13; and managers make an average of $53,000 a year.

How to apply: Go to this link.

McDonald’s: 10,000 jobs

McDonald's cashier with order
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McDonald’s is looking to hire 10,000 employees at its company-owned stores over the next three months as dining rooms reopen and business picks up during the summer. The company just announced it’s raising hourly wages for all of its existing employees and new hires. It can’t mandate the same for franchises, which make up 95% of its stores, but it is encouraging them to raise their wages, too, the company president said in a letter to employees.

The restaurant is also hoping to entice new hires with paid time off (no details announced on how much) and financial aid for education. McDonald’s will offer qualifying crew members $2,500 a year toward college tuition and $3,000 to managers. It also has a program to help employees earn a high school diploma at no cost and English-as-a-second-language classes for free.

Wages: $11 to $17 for entry-level positions; $15 to $20 for shift managers, according to the company.

Perks: College tuition aid, high school diploma program, free ESL program, paid time off.

How to apply: Go to the McDonald’s website.

IHOP: 10,000 jobs

An IHOP restaurant sign in Nashville, Tennessee
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IHOP is hoping to fill 10,000 jobs under its trademark blue roof at all of its 1,600 restaurants, with in-person and virtual interviews in a more streamlined process.

Wages: Servers make an average of $12 an hour, line cooks make an average of $13 an hour while managers make an average annual salary of $56,000, according to Glassdoor.

How to apply: Interested applicants can check out openings here.

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