Cashing in on the fringe

Businesses benefit from persuasive perks 

By Leslie T. Snadowsky

The SERG Group is known for its impressive roster of award-winning local restaurants and catering services, including WiseGuys, Frankie Bones, Skull Creek Dockside and Nectar, and its dedication to providing guests with quality cuisine, exceptional service and genuine coastal hospitality.

Jordan Norris, the SERG Group’s HR director, said SERG’s commitment to excellence also serves up enviable benefits for its biggest asset: loyal and dedicated employees.

“You have to think outside the box to attract employees and figure out what is appealing and important to them,” says Norris. “Offering different benefits to people from different generations is important. From 100 percent health care to 401K plans to a rewards program to college tuition savings opportunities, we know everybody at every age is motivated differently, so we offer an array of benefits to them all, from Gen Z to management.”

Cash for credits

When good help is hard to find, many businesses advertise perks for student employees. SERG has a college-savings program where employees can earn up to $1 for every hour they work to be used at any university of their choosing. In addition, Technical College of the Lowcountry (TCL) and University of South Carolina Beaufort (USCB) students who work 100 hours per semester get a $250 tuition reimbursement. If they work 200 hours per semester, they get $500.

Health benefits with heart

During the last few years, SERG offered an average hourly wage of $17.78 to employees and an average annual salary of $74,906 to managers, but health benefits seemed to be the biggest motivator on the menu when attracting and retaining talent in the challenging labor environment.

“The food and beverage industry is tricky due to cost flow, but health insurance is very important for certain demographics,” says Norris. “SERG decided to cover 100 percent of the high-deductible plan for our management team and 90 percent for our hourly employees.”

Off the clock

One of the biggest perks a boss can offer is paid time off, and SERG just rolled out an appetizing program sure to make employees hungry to work there.

“In 2021 our hourly employees started to earn one hour for every 40 hours they worked,” says Norris. “Our staff can use that time whenever they want for vacations, or if they need a little cash, they can cash them out at any time. It’s kind of like a little bank account for them to use.”

Refer a friend

“Instead of offering sign-up bonuses, we wanted to reward the employees who were already working for us versus rewarding somebody coming in off the street,” says Norris.

Last summer SERG offered $500 referral bonuses to employees when they recommended friends to work at SERG who were employed for at least 90 days. A similar year-round program offers a $100 referral perk.

Team SERG Rewards

The Team SERG Rewards program offers employees goods for goodwill. “We’ve been testing this program over the summer, and it’s been received really well,” Norris said. “Employees can earn points for doing good things, picking up shifts, helping out, going above and beyond, and they can cash in those points for real, tangible things like tickets to football games, hotel stays, gifts like kayaks and bikes, swag and stuff off of Amazon. We feel this program is somewhat unique and something that shows we value our employees.

To learn more about the SERG Restaurant Group perks, visit serggroup.com/careers and serggroup.com/collegesavings.

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