Southwest Airlines' next CEO said an application to work at Whataburger was stapled to his food bag: 'That's what it's come to'

Eric Gay / AP
Upcoming Southwest CEO Robert Jordan said an application had been pinned to his Whataburger bag.
It shows how tight the job market has become, he said during the Skift Global Forum.
Southwest plans to hire 13,000 new employees by 2022 but is struggling to attract applicants.
Check out Insider's business page for more stories.
A hiring crisis hits companies across the country and affects everyone from the new CEO of Southwest Airlines to the employees of his local Whataburgers.
Robert Jordan, who will take the helm of Southwest early next year, spoke about the country's labor shortage in an interview on Thursday at the Skift Global Forum. To fill vacancies, many companies have resorted to new tactics, such as: Others try something more unusual.
Jordan described visiting a Whataburger drive-thru in the Dallas area, a Texas-based hamburger chain. When he received his bag of groceries, he found that something was attached to it: an application.
"You put an application on the sack of food that every single person who comes through the passage gets and you say, 'That's what happened,'" said Jordan. "For me it has become a kind of symbol for the job market we live in here - there is so much competition."
A Whataburger spokesman did not respond to Insider's request to comment on his hiring tactics.
But similar to Dallas Whataburger, Southwest, is having trouble attracting applicants, Jordan said. Southwest is hiring 5,000 new employees this fall and another 8,000 in 2022, but the applications haven't arrived - while Southwest used to get around 43 applications per opening, it's currently only about 14, he said.
"The restrictions have always been: can we get planes, can we get facilities, we can get goals," he said. "I've never seen a time when the restriction is: Can we get employees?"
Southwest and Whataburger are not alone in their battle for employees. A nationwide labor crisis has burned out current employees taking on extra work and companies losing money because they don't have enough employees to do standard tasks. While some companies blame a lack of willingness to work for the shortage, workers say they don't have to take low-wage jobs when the market is so competitive.
Economists say there is a combination of problems that led to the shortage, Insider's Juliana Kaplan reported. A skills gap combined with employers' reliance on hiring software means workers are filtered out if, for example, they don't have a four-year degree. And pandemic-induced migration is making it harder for large cities like New York to hire service workers.
Expectations have also changed: workers refuse to settle for low wages - or roles that could endanger their health and safety.
Extended coverage module: what-is-the-labor-shortage-and-how-long-it-will-be
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