BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Businesses in the food industry are struggling to find employees, which is spurring conversation about the minimum wage. For one regional chain, those conversations have turned into action.
Half Shell Oyster House, which has several locations in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, has raised its starting wage for the second time in a year.
It’s a decision that was made to help the people who keep the restaurant going, said the company’s Vice President of Operations and Human Resources.
“We believe we have a custodial responsibility to those work for us. The food on the table that our employees’ children eat is our responsibility and, quite frankly, they just can’t afford it at $7.25 an hour. A year ago, we raised our minimum wage to $11 an hour and we feel by raising it again this year that we are better paralleling the needs of our staff,” said Vice President of Operations and Human Resources Kevin Fish.
Beginning Thursday, Half Shell Oyster House increased its minimum wage for non-tipped employees, implementing a $12 starting wage. That applies to tipped employees, too, but only when they are performing non-tipping duties, such as expediting or opening.
Half Shell is one of several businesses along the Gulf Coast that are working to hire new employees, offering incentives like the companywide “Bring a Friend to Work” bounty program. Current employees who refer a friend to apply and complete training with the company receive $200. If the new employee stays for 30 days, the referring employee will receive $300.
Another incentive they’re offering to get workers is financial compensation for new employees who complete their training. According to a post by the restaurant chain’s South Mississippi locations, that signing bonus could net a new employee as much as $600, which is broken down into three payments with a $100 once training is complete, $200 extra on the employee’s second paycheck, and an additional $300 after the worker has completed 90 days of employment.