In another move to combat the persistent challenge of retaining talent, Chipotle announced Thursday that it is enhancing its paid parental leave program and testing unlimited paid time off for restaurant support directors, executive team directors, and team directors.
Starting this year, the brand will increase paid parental leave for the Restaurant Support Center and eligible field employees to 12 weeks for birth moms and four weeks for new dads and people adopting children. Chipotle also plans to pay for breastmilk shipping services for mothers to use during work travel. In addition to those benefits, the chain will offer a guide (Humans Uniting to Support the Ladies’ Experience, or HUSTLE) to ease employees back into the workplace.
"Over the past year, we've positioned ourselves as a leader in curating an environment that maximizes the potential of our outstanding workforce," says Marissa Andrada, chief people officer, in a statement. "We want to ensure our employees are able to share important moments with their family and have the necessary time away from work to recharge after a monumental life event."
Regarding unlimited PTO, Chipotle said the benefit will “reward the leaders who are ultimately accountable for innovating and supporting the brand's mission to Cultivate a Better World.” The company will use its stage-gate process to decide whether to extend the benefit to more employees.
Chipotle has spent the past year rolling out additional benefits to employees. In November, the brand announced simplified access to mental health benefits and financial counseling platforms. And a month before that, the company instituted an educational assistance program that allows employees to pursue debt-free college degrees. Chipotle covers 100 percent of tuition costs up front for 75 types of business and technology degrees via Guild Education. That built on Chipotle’s other educational program, which allows workers to be reimbursed up to $5,250 a year at any school.
In June 2019, the brand introduced a bonus program that allows employees to earn an extra month’s worth of pay. It’s resulted in more than $2.75 million in bonuses, with 10 percent of units achieving a bonus in at least one quarter.
Keeping employees remains a top challenge for restaurants across all segments in the industry. Employers are willing to try multiple avenues, such as Taco Bell testing $100,000 salaries for managers or Shake Shack experimenting with four-day work weeks. According to a report by the National Restaurant Association, 35 percent of operators in the fast-casual segment said that recruiting and retaining talent was their biggest hurdle heading into 2020. That’s 14 percentage points more than the second-highest, which was maintaining sales.