Business offers incentives to customers to find workers

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — Business owners struggling to find workers are taking recruiting efforts to another level.

There are restaurants offering incentives to customers for referrals.

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It’s not unusual for employers to give referral bonuses to the staff.

At Gyotaku restaurants, customers can get a gift certificate of up to $1,000.

“Because who knows better than you what kind of great employees that we have right?” said owner Tom Jones to his customers.

He just launched the incentive program. Customers can get a $25 gift certificate for referring someone who applies and interviews. If they stay on for three months, the customer gets a $500 gift certificate. If a manager is hired, the customer gets a $1,000 certificate.

With three Gyotaku restaurants, he figures customers can become a great recruiting force.

“We’re serving over 1,000 meals a day,” said Jones. “So our customers are probably the best people to recommend who they would like to be preparing the food and serving them in our restaurants.”

Some business owners say the federal $300 weekly unemployment benefit added on to the state benefit is keeping people from going back to work.

Twenty-five states plan to opt out of it by next month.

When asked about Hawaii opting out, Gov. David Ige says the money contributes to the economy. But he plans to monitor how that added benefit is affecting the staffing shortage.

“And if we believe that many are declining job opportunities, then we would consider dropping it at the appropriate time,” said Ige.

Local economists say the $300 is not the only reason for the lack of workers.

Parents need to find childcare to get back to work. The good thing is the added benefits also allow the unemployed to find jobs more suitable for them.

“If we can get workers into better matches that’s good for the workers,” said Sumner La Croix, from the U.H. Economic Research Organization. “It’s good for the economy. It’s good for their long-term income prospects.”

He points out that more people will be going back to work within the next two months.

Public schools start in August so childcare won’t be as much of a problem.

The federal benefit ends on September 6.

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