How Food And Beverage Companies Are Incentivizing Employees To Get Vaccinated

Food & Drink

While many corporate restaurants are reluctant – or on the fence- to require their employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, other food and beverage companies are offering them incentives to do it. 

Most are big corporations and national restaurant chains with the monetary resources to do so, but Red Rooster Coffee, a small business in Floyd, Virginia, is offering an even more generous vaccine incentive to employees, compared to those of their wealthier counterparts.

Red Rooster’s incentive includes a $250 bonus for getting the vaccination plus 16 hours – that’s two whole workdays – of paid time off. This incentive is much more more generous compared to those offered by other companies, especially since they have considerably fewer corporate dollars to spend on employee programs compared to the larger national chains.

For example, McDonald’s is only offering four hours of PTO to get vaccinated. Companies such as Darden Restaurant Inc., the parent to Longhorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden, and Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, is offering workers two hours of paid time off and other incentives to get the Covid-19 vaccine so that they won’t have to use paid sick leave. Grocery chains like Trader Joe’s and Aldi are also offering token financial incentives for employees to get vaccinated.

Tipped employees and hourly staff at Washington D.C’s Knead Hospitality + Design will get four hours of minimum wage or higher (around $60 to $80), while salaried staff will get a bonus day of paid time off. Hawaiian restaurant chain Zippy’s Restaurants plans to offer digital tokens for staff, which could be redeemed for paid time off if they choose to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The company is also considering creating a marketplace of redemption items, possibly to include uniforms and street clothing featuring the Zippy’s logo.

But Red Rooster is an extremely ethically minded business, so it’s only fitting their incentive would match their morals. Founded in 2010 by husband and wife Haden Polseno-Hensley and Rose McCutchan, the specialty coffee company roasts high quality beans from around the world while striiving to make a positive social impact both at home and abroad.

“In a time of distrust and misinformation, we wanted to provide a feeling of both security and enthusiasm around the vaccine,” says Polseno-Hensley. “Considering all the restrictions and stress we’ve had in our lives over the past year, the vaccine is really cause for celebration. And we want our employees to feel excited and optimistic about the future.” 

Other companies are taking a similarly altruistic angle. Chicago’s UNO Pizzeria & Grill just launched an internal concierge system that will help individual employees to secure and attend vaccine appointments. This complimentary bilingual service is available to UNO employees across its company-owned restaurant locations.

Meanwhile, the Texas Food and Wine Alliance, alongside Olamaie’s Chef Michael Fotjasek and the Texas Restaurant Association, is developing a partnership with CVS Pharmacy to roll out vaccine sites for hospitality workers throughout Texas. The TRA created a survey, sent out to restaurant and bar operators, to help build a list of hospitality and restaurant workers in major metro areas throughout the state who are interested in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

While the form is in no way a sign-up sheet for the vaccine, it can help the organization demonstrate need and eagerness.

Polseno-Hensley reports the incentives at Red Rooster have had a great response. “Currently, over 85% of our staff have received at least their first dose of Pfizer/Moderna or their full dose of Johnson & Johnson. Shout out to the New River Health District in Virginia which has truly done a fantastic job of organizing and getting shots in people’s arms.”

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