At Denny’s, everything is better together: pancakes and eggs, burgers and milkshakes, bacon and somewhat dystopic messaging about The Great Resignation.
In a press release titled “Calling All Besties,” Denny’s has announced its new hiring initiative, which involves soliciting both you and a friend to apply to restaurant jobs in the hope of hiring and retaining more employees.
“We’re inviting 7,500 people and their best friends to become #Friendployees at Denny’s restaurants nationwide,” reads the press release. “And, because we know that friends who work together stay together, applicants can enter for a chance to score ‘The Perfect Weekend Off’ – an all-expense-paid vacay for two to the U.S. destination of their choice.”
A weekend vacation paid for by the diner that’s always open might sound like a great perk to some people (though a bit short for a vacation), but it does feel eerily similar to the eagerness of last year’s Denny’s hiring initiative.
How Denny’s is luring applicants
In 2021, after the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported about 9.5 million people (5.9% of the country) were unemployed, Denny’s announced a cross-country hiring tour in the hopes of gaining 20,000 employees.
“With the country continuing to open back up, Denny’s is committed to inviting Americans across the country to get back to work,” said Denny’s CEO John Miller. “We are glad to be able to mobilize the hiring experience to make it as easy and enjoyable as possible for applicants.”
And, if mobile job application sites weren’t incentive enough, the first 25 interviewees at each of Denny’s storefront locations were given a redeemable voucher for a free Red, White, and Blue Pancake Breakfast.
Why it’s hard to hire restaurant workers right now
An all-expenses-paid vacation is undoubtedly better than a single pancake breakfast, but it doesn’t prove that Denny’s is actually listening to the concerns of the 5.5 million restaurant workers who found themselves out of a job in 2020. For those who were able to eventually return, the hours and wages just weren’t worth it.
Instead, many of these workers turned to personal development. How many people do you know who, during the pandemic, uncovered new passions, learned to make some undeniably sick bread, or decided to go back to school? How many came to the realization that they spend more time with their coworkers than with the people they love? And how many were just plain burned out on the service jobs they held?
This reexamination of self-identity permanently changed some people’s relationships with their jobs. Namely, they didn’t want to go back to the same role unless it was definitely going to be worth their time, i.e. with stronger benefits, more flexible schedules, and a general feeling of a company investing in them just as much as they invested in the company.
While Denny’s is definitely on the right track by appearing to prioritize a high-quality work experience for its employees, the company still said the quiet part out loud: its steep hiring needs are virtually unchanged from last year, even after that mobile hiring tour.
“We believe there is no better way to enjoy your day on – and off – than with your best friend,” said Gail Sharps Myers, Denny’s Chief People Officer. Fair point, but it mostly just sounds like a better way for Denny’s to double its workforce.
Applications for The Perfect Weekend Off are open now through June 17. #Friendployee.