Last year, more than 2,600 Chipotle employees ranging from crewmembers to support center staff received over $10.5 million in tuition assistance. In addition, the brand provides access to a personal education coach, tuition discounts, college credits for on-the-job training, and access to exclusive degrees in business management and hospitality. It also offers family members of employees immediate assistant to complete English as a second language and general education classes.
How critical is this? Not only do restaurant employees often seek outside education for future careers, but many of them are already students trying to fund those goals. Twenty-eight percent of restaurant/bar employees are enrolled in school versus just 10 percent of the total U.S. employed labor force, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey. A third of all working U.S. teenagers are restaurant employees.
Last year, Chipotle’s rate of internal promotion was 79 percent. It employed more than 73,000 people, including roughly 67,900 at the hourly level. And with some restaurants turning over entire staffs in a year, with rates north of 100 percent, it pays not just to retain workers, but to attract those younger people likely to churn, and to do so consistently amid a cyclical turnover dynamic. In other words, a fight for workers in the “talent crisis.” Finding the best and most capable employees, quickly. One key way to get there is by acknowledging this might be a part-time start to their careers and something that catapults them elsewhere. Embracing that concept by offering education benefits to help them along.
Overall, 30 percent of the eating and drinking place workforce are part-year employees, compared to 18 percent of the total U.S. workforce. Students might not stick around, but that doesn’t mean they’re not valuable when they’re there.
Starbucks has invested heavy in this field, too. Every benefits-eligible U.S. employee working part- or full-time receives 100 percent tuition coverage for a first-time bachelor’s degree through Arizona State University’s online program. Workers can choose from more than 80 diverse undergraduate degree programs.
The java chain's "Pathway to Admission" platform is an expansion of its Starbucks College Achievement Plan benefit. Through this program, Starbucks and Arizona State University provide an admissions pathway for benefits-eligible employees who do not initially qualify for academic enrollment.They can take up to 10 college-level courses to earn their admission into the university, with credit conversion costs fully covered.
Here’s a look at the turnover challenge at Chipotle, which mirrors a lot of counter-service brands of this scale.
- Restaurant hourly (crew, kitchen manager service manager): 144.9 percent
- Restaurant salary (apprentice, general manager, restaurateur): 49.1 percent
- Restaurant field managers (field leaders, team directors, executive team directors): 26.3 percent
- Staff employees (support center workers and field support employees: 49.9 percent
- Restaurant hourly: 158 percent
- Restaurant salary: 37.1 percent
- Restaurant field managers: 18.7 percent
- Staff employees: 23.9 percent
- A positive note is that the hourly figure is going down.