Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol shared during the brand’s Q1 recap it recently saw “historically low levels” of turnover, with some regions reporting “well below 100 percent” at the crew level. Under normal times, this would be no mean feat. But Chipotle, from 2016 to 2022, witnessed its hourly rate rise from 130 to 193 percent. Part of that surged owed to the broader labor climate—only 54 percent of quick-service employees reached 90 days of working before quitting in 2022, according to industry research. The National Restaurant Association said first-time employees filled 27 percent of category openings that same year. So there was more churn than usual.

And this despite the fact wage levels were up 5.6 percent in limited service compared to a roughly 3 percent 15-year average, per Rabobank. It wasn’t just about wages, in other words—it was a multi-pronged reaction to a pool that hadn’t yet settled from COVID-19. And in an industry that generally grapples with cyclical, seasonal turnover and heavy part-time work.

On Friday, Chipotle released its 2023 Sustainability Report, which showed restaurant hourly (crew, kitchen leader, and service) turnover of 183 percent, or 10 percent above last year. To note, Niccol’s comment was in response to the present, not the past year.

Yet while still a lofty figure, as you can below, the 183 percent result marked the first downward movement since the pandemic began.

Restaurant hourly (crew, kitchen leader, service leader)

  • 2023: 183 percent
  • 2022: 193 percent
  • 2021: 194 percent
  • 2020: 141 percent
  • 2018: 144 percent
  • 2017: 158 percent
  • 2016: 130.1 percent

Here’s how the rest of Chipotle’s positions are tracking:

Restaurant salary (apprentice, GM, restaurateur)

  • 2023: 33 percent
  • 2022: 44 percent
  • 2021: 43 percent
  • 2020: 31 percent
  • 2018: 49.1 percent
  • 2017: 37.1 percent
  • 2016: 38.1 percent

Restaurant field managers (field leaders, team directors, regional VP)

  • 2023: 18 percent
  • 2022: 19 percent
  • 2021: 21 percent
  • 2020: 16 percent
  • 2018: 26.3 percent
  • 2017: 18.7 percent

Staff employees

  • 2023: 22 percent
  • 2022: 23 percent

Senior management

  • 2023: zero percent
  • 2022: 14 percent
  • 2021: 0 percent

Every category improved, with senior management taking the biggest jump of 14 percentage points.

As of December 31, 49.3 percent of U.S.-based employees were female and roughly 71 percent racial and ethnic minorities.

In 2023, Chipotle’s internal promotion rate was 87 percent (the percentage of individuals promoted into an apprentice position versus all apprentice and general manager hires at Chipotle).

Niccol spoke about this after Q1 as well. He brought up the brand’s All Manager Conference on a few instances, an event that brought together 4,500 store and support center employees. It included 3,200 GMs, 100 apprentices, 450 field leaders, 60 team directors, and 11 regional vice presidents. And for the first time, Chipotle included crew members who clocked 20 years or more with the brand. One GM from Denver was with Chipotle for 23 years and had four crew members with two decades-plus of tenure.

“To reach our long-term target of over 7,000 restaurants in North America, we showed our teams that we will need to double the number of field leadership positions we have. And as we target over 90 percent internal promotions, the majority of these future leaders will come from the GMs and apprentices at this conference,” Niccol said.

Chipotle in March announced intentions for a 50-for-one stock split that would be one of the biggest in New York Stock Exchange history. One goal being to make it easier for others to invest in the company, which was trading for $3,192 per share as of Friday afternoon.

That includes being able to have employees invest in their own trajectories. Chipotle unveiled a one-time equity grant for all restaurant GMs and employees with 20-plus years of service. That will go into effect once the split is active. “This will allow them to participate in the financial success of the company,” Niccol said.

Here’s a look at some wider figures Chipotle shared in the report.

U.S.

2023

  • Hires: 196,425
  • Promotions: 24,127
  • Total hires: 220,552
  • Hire rate: 89 percent
  • Promotion rate: 11 percent

2022

  • Hires: 188,116
  • Promotions: 25,810
  • Total hires: 213,926
  • Hire rate: 88 percent
  • Promotion rate: 12 percent

To apprentice

2023

  • Hires: 334
  • Promotions: 2,271
  • Total hires: 2,605
  • Hire rate: 13 percent
  • Promotion rate: 87 percent

2022

  • Hires: 1,867
  • Promotions: 4,712
  • Total hires: 6,579
  • Hire rate: 28 percent
  • Promotion rate: 72 percent

To GM

2023

  • Hires: 367
  • Promotions: 1,426
  • Total hires: 1,793
  • Hire rate: 20 percent
  • Promotion rate: 80 percent

2022

  • Hires: 1,483
  • Promotions: 1,702
  • Total hires: 3,185
  • Hire rate: 47 percent
  • Promotion rate: 53 percent

Additionally, Chipotle broke down some of its labor efforts. The company’s online training platform, “Spice Hub” runs alongside each employee receiving in-restaurant shoulder-to-shoulder training, coaching, and validation every shift. New kitchen leaders undergo three weeks of training, while service leaders and apprentices get four weeks.

  • Crew orientation: 2 hours
  • Crew line training: 1 week
  • Crew cash training: 1 week
  • Crew digital training: 1 week
  • Crew prep training: 1 week
  • Crew grill training: 1 week
  • Crew certified trainer training: 1 week
  • Kitchen leader training: 3 weeks
  • Service leader training: 4 weeks
  • Apprentice training: 4 weeks
  • Internal GM training: 3 weeks
  • External GM training: 12 weeks

Chipotle also hosts “Teach & Taste Live seminars” to provide on-going professional development for employees at its Restaurant Support Centers. Each course introduces a new leadership skill and offers best practices and actionable tools to continue developing the top talent that supports field operations.

In other news shared in the report, Chipotle hosted 3,000 restaurant fundraisers last year to support local community organizations, bringing the company’s total lifetime contribution to $99 million. The chain’s Chipotle Cultivate Foundation introduced its first charitable match programs, “Chip In” and “Dish Out” and noted the company set a new goal focused on conserving and restoring watersheds in priority regions identified using the World Resources Institute Aqueduct tool. In 2024, Chipotle said it will fund local stewardship projects focused on efficiency, restoration efforts, and other nature-based initiatives to reduce erosion and improve water quality.

Chip In is a volunteer-based employee match program while Dish Out is a financial match option for the Foundation to increase an eligible employee’s overall gift by matching their contribution to a nonprofit.

Employee Management, Fast Casual, Story