- Chipotle launched a hiring campaign Thursday that aims to attract 15,000 new employees by spring. The months from March to May mark the chain’s busiest season, according to a press release.
- The campaign, which spotlights the career advancement of six current Chipotle employees, is designed to highlight the company’s internal promotion processes.
- As the company targets 7,000 units, more than double its current unit count, it plans to promote managers and leaders from its hourly workforce.
Internal promotion is a powerful driver of recruitment and retention. Chipotle promoted internally for 90% of its restaurant management roles in 2022 and saw its retention improve, according to the press release. In the company’s Q1 2022 earnings call, CEO Brian Niccol said workers can rise from hourly employees to restaurateurs, the company’s highest general manager position with an average compensation of $100,000, within 3.5 years.
The company said its educational assistance program, combined with employee perception of a career path, was particularly effective at retaining workers. Chipotle’s retention rate is twice as high for workers involved in its education assistance program, and these employees are six times as likely to become managers.
Though the foodservice industry is nearing pre-pandemic employment levels, turnover remains elevated compared to the rest of the economy, with 5.7% of restaurant workers leaving their jobs in November, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A recent study from HourWork found only 46% of QSR employees failed to reach the 90-day mark at their jobs. Such high turnover drives up labor costs.
Such short-staffing, worsened by turnover, was one of the chief complaints voiced by Chipotle employees in Maine when they moved to unionize last summer. Chipotle ultimately closed that unit, but another in Michigan restaurant unionized with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Ensuring adequate staffing levels at current units while the company expands may help inoculate workers against organizing efforts.
Chipotle’s emphasis on its internal promotion paths and benefits may also offset damage to the brand’s reputation as an employer caused by a series of high-profile incidents of discrimination and harassment at the chain. In the last year, Chipotle has been sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over sexual harassment, agreed to a $20 million settlement for allegedly violating New York City’s Fair Workweek law and settled over 30,000 allegations of child labor violations in New Jersey for $7.75 million.
Scott Boatwright, chief restaurant officer, said in a statement that effective recruitment and retention were key to the company’s plan to reach 7,000 units. "We will continue bringing in new crew to support Chipotle's aggressive growth plans, while simultaneously promoting and upskilling those currently in role."