Birmingham hotel increasing minimum wage to attract applicants

Local News

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A Birmingham hotel is raising its minimum wage in order to attract more applicants as hiring struggles continue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week, the Hilton Birmingham at UAB announced that non-tip jobs will now pay at least $12 per hour. It’s part of the hotel’s “Open for Business Plan,” which also includes signing and performance bonuses, referral pay and weekend incentive pay. The hotel also will send meals for a family of four home with employees after work on Sundays.

“I’m hopeful that this Open for Business plan will attract the right candidates that we’re looking for,” said Karen Melton, director of human resources for the hotel.

Hiring and keeping qualified employees have been challenging for many businesses in the restaurant and hospitality industry during the pandemic. Melton believes some former employees may have been worried about returning to work during the pandemic. Others may have decided to pursue other careers. Some may have chosen to stick with unemployment benefits.

Together, those factors have made the hiring process difficult. Melton gave an example of what she might encounter when hiring for a housekeeping position.

“I might have 18 or so interviews set up,” she said. “From thatm I might have three people show up. From that I will have maybe one potential hire. They may come for a couple days, then they’re gone again. So it’s really been unstable, as far as that goes.”

Hilton Birmingham at UAB general manager Lisa Castagna first noticed the problem about six months ago when the hotel needed to starting bringing back more employees. When they posted jobs, few applicants applied. Now, it’s become more urgent to find quality candidates as Castagna expects business to stabilize by the fall.

“Our business levels are actually increasing faster than we thought they would,” she said. “We’ve had a pretty good first quarter, relative to what we had been seeing. The business is coming, just the employees aren’t coming yet.”

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