My eyeballs popped when I read the top headline in Nation’s Restaurant News this morning on my phone. I’m not kidding.
Basic math skills and even the faintest whiff of humanitarian tendencies allow one to know this should be part of a late-night comedy show episode.
Dig in further and we learn that the $700K is divided amongst 2,600 employees in those 135 restaurants. On average that’s $270 per person, nothing to scoff at. In fact, at face value, it looks like a headline in the making!
But it’s for the entire quarter. 3 months, or around 13 weeks. If each averaged 30 hour per week, that equates to a $0.69 per hour raise for that quarter.
That, too, would be great (not newsworthy), except for one thing. Chipotle’s publicly stated goal in 2018 (when it reported an improvement in turnover to 144% from 158%) was to reach $12 per hour on average by the end of 2018. I don’t know if they reached that goal, though the forced increases in wage rates in certain areas of the US likely forced some upward movement.
The point here is that bonuses paid to “some” when average wages are well below any sort of livable wage are almost insulting. Well, apparently they are insulting, based on some of the highest turnover numbers I’ve ever heard of. Who wouldn’t leave Chipotle for other industries when the average wage is so paltry? A $0.69 per hour bonus for less than 5% of employees is not going to turn this around.
The headline actually makes Chipotle look like one of the “good guys” when it comes to doing the right thing for its people. That’s just not the case.
The right thing for Chipotle to do, as Chipotle’s popularity, sales, and incredible restaurant-level profits (even in the face of the e-coli scare things were pretty rosy compared to the rest of the industry 🤔) allow it to uniquely do, is to lead the industry and raise wages considerably for every employee in the company.
Just imagine this headline, as a first step:
“Chipotle raises wages to a minimum of $15 per hour for employees with the company longer than a year”.
Ironically, right this very moment, the cost to the company would be minuscule given the extraordinary turnover rate they “enjoy”. But that kind of bold move (necessary move, many would argue) would get employees to stay. And in a year or two they’d have quite the change in turnover rate, no bonus gimmicks, and most importantly they’d finally be on the right side of history. With a legitimate headline to boot!
We all love that the pigs and chickens that end up in our burrito bowls at Chipotle (and Boloco!) had “happy lives” (naturally-raised, not factory-farm raised, etc) prior to their inevitable quick endings, and we pay up for those. But don’t the people who serve up those burrito bowls deserve the same consideration as the pigs and chickens? Chipotle can lead here if they choose. I hope they do and that one day soon we see a headline that truly inspires others to follow their lead.