Worker shortage inspires NCFL businesses to offer incentives for new hires

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 6:14 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Experts say they’ve never seen it before.

Service industry and retail jobs are offering signing bonuses, free food, and employee benefits to new hires and current employees who recruit new staff.

As of May 18, these businesses are offering perks for new hires, and some for interviewees.*


-Crispy chicken sandwich combo meal for interviewees

-10% hourly pay increase over the next several months

-Free employee shift meals

-Tuition assistance


-$2 increase in the minimum wage

-$200 referral bonus for crew members

-$750 referral bonus for apprentices/general managers


-$300 signing bonus

-$2 increase in the minimum wage**


-Interviewees will receive one coupon for a free appetizer

Olive Garden:

-$12 an hour plus tips by 2023

Applicants are encouraged to call ahead to ensure these benefits are being offered at said location.

Kevin Sheilley, CEO of the Ocala CEP, said incentives may not be the cure to this shortage of workers. He said businesses play a big role in attracting and keeping employees in this uncertain time.

“For those organizations that can really stop and think about how do I value employees, how do I make this a great place to work, um, how do I engage them in the processes that we’re involved in? I think those will be companies that are able to be more successful both in retaining employees and attracting new employees,” Sheilley said.

Related Story: Unemployed Floridians will once again have to prove they’re looking for work

Debbie Sorgy, one of the managers at Hurricane (Gator) BTW, shared some of her struggles with the lack of new hires, but she said they’ve always focussed on taking care of their team as if they’re family. Sorgy said they’re not offering any hiring incentives to new hires with hopes to attract long-term team members rather than short-term hires looking for a quick bonus.

“We’re all working a lot of hours, but we love what we do,” Debbie Sorgy said, “we have really focussed on making sure the employees that are here are treated well, are paid well, and are taken care of.”

Sheilley said he’s optimistic about what benefits this will bring to both businesses and their employees down the road.

“I think really smart companies will look at different ways of doing business and how they interact with their employees- not that they were doing poorly before, but it gave them a chance to reset and look to improve. And I think for employees, it’s allowing them to stop and think ‘what’s important to me in a job?’” Sheilley said.

*Depending on location, ownership, and duration of employment

**Until unemployment benefits last

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