- Over 2,600 Chipotle employees qualified to earn an extra week of pay through the company's new crew bonus program, according to a press release.
- Under the new initiative, restaurant teams that meet certain criteria like predetermined sales, cash flow and throughput goals each quarter have a chance to earn up to an extra month's worth of pay each year.
- Chipotle reported a decrease in employee turnover at the manager and crew levels over the past year and improvements in throughput. The company attributed the uptick in throughput to its focus on training and upgrades such as its new user-friendly dashboard.
Chipotle's new bonus program has clearly struck a chord with its workforce. Incentivizing team members with extra pay for a job well done is a straightforward way to not only cultivate a better work environment, but to boost company performance as well. The program might also serve to cultivate camaraderie and a team spirit among workers, as meeting performance-based criteria is a store-wide effort. Experts advise tying bonus pay to multiple factors, however, so that certain store operations aren't prioritized over other less quantifiable tasks.
Chipotle has also placed an emphasis on harassment training and building a healthy workplace, including zero-tolerance policies and providing resources to franchisees to deal with conflicts. The company faced a PR disaster last year after a video of a manager making racist comments toward a group of guests went viral; the company implemented a new round of trainings shortly after.
Motivating restaurant workers can be difficult. The job often comes with low wages, less than ideal hours, ungrateful customers and tedious routine tasks. Showing genuine appreciation for their labor and making advancement tangible are some of the best ways to motivate food service employees, according to Upserve. Companies all too often dangle carrots in front of workers faces without ever making good on promises. Chipotle's program offers clear criteria, and given the number of workers who qualified for extra pay, the metrics seem achievable.
As the restaurant industry faces chronic difficulties with retaining employees in light of the low unemployment rate, QSRs are offering a variety of incentives, like Shake Shack's four-day workweeks for managers and Sweetgreen's five months of paid paternal leave. In many cases, especially for less heavyweight brands, the cost of adding these programs is passed on to the consumer, resulting in surcharges or pricier menu items. Some restaurants in cities including Austin, Chicago, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and San Francisco have added a healthcare surcharge to help cover the costs of workers' insurance, for example.