Taco Bell is expanding its hiring party initiative. / The Associated Press Taco Bell is expanding its hiring party initiative. / The Associated Press

Taco Bell’s Wacky Hiring Strategies Are Actually Working

In an effort to stand out in a wildly competitive job market, Taco Bell is applying the same kind of whimsy that customers usually see in the chain’s marketing campaigns to something far more routine: job applications.

Taco Bell’s hiring parties, first tested last summer in four company-owned locations in Indiana, have been a welcome hit for the chain. Free food and games abound, and participants have the opportunity to secure on-the-spot job offers. Within the six-hour window that the party was held at the test locations, the restaurants saw 75 in-person job applications, resulting in 40 hires. Taco Bell also saw a spike in online applications due to the promotional activity around the parties. Over 300 people submitted online applications after the parties launched in the stores.

“The hiring parties are very on-brand for Taco Bell,” said Bjorn Erland, the chain’s vice president of people and experience, and it’s helped the company set itself apart from the competition. “Brands that are able to put in place hiring strategies that align to their brand purpose tend to have success in differentiating themselves in the market.”

Taco Bell plans to launch a week’s worth of hiring parties in nearly 600 restaurants from April 22 to 27, showing that franchisees are starting to throw their weight behind this idea, too. The opportunity to throw a party was open to any franchisee who wanted to participate, Erland explained, as long as they hosted the party in the set week-long timeframe to achieve maximum marketing impact.

The hope is that the week-long hiring push will set the restaurants up well to be able to staff appropriately ahead of the busy summer season.

An Easy Win for Franchisees

Going forward, Taco Bell franchisees will have access to marketing kits for the hiring parties and Erland sees possibilities for franchisees in the same geographic location to team up and host parties at the same time to create more of a marketing splash.

“The franchisees are hungry for innovative ways to find great talent and they see this as one of those ways,” Erland said. “It’s not a huge effort on their end, either. They host it for a couple of hours in their restaurant.”

Executives at Yum Brands’ other chains, KFC and Pizza Hut, are aware of the hiring parties but there’s been no indication yet if they are planning to test out the idea at those brands.

Erland declined to share details around the hiring parties’ effect on retention in last year’s test market, saying that there wasn’t clear data tracking available to see which of the 40 hires may have left for another job, or perhaps back to school and were left in the system with the intention of coming back to work over the holidays.

But it is clear that the hiring parties drum up more initial job interest in a short time frame than the company was previously seeing in their stores. Plus, Erland noted, the memorable strategy could have a lasting effect on people who may not be looking for a job immediately, but they would be more likely to consider applying in the future.

To help it manage a young, digital-savvy workforce, Taco Bell has also secured a partnership with Crew, the workforce scheduling app, over the last couple of months. Operators at over 1,000 restaurant locations currently use Crew to managing staffing at their stores.

There’s free shift meals on the table now, too. Taco Bell just started offering the perk to employees at company-owned locations, with some franchisees already buying into the idea beforehand and others jumping on board after the company-owned stores rolled it out.

“We’re creating those overall experiences for people,” Erland said, “which builds the overall employment brand as well.”

More from Skift Table