- Chipotle said Wednesday it will hire up to 10,000 new employees during the next few months. This is on top of the approximately 8,000 new hires at the chain since May following the launch of its "We Are Open. We Are Growing. We Are Hiring" campaign, according to a press release emailed to Restaurant Dive.
- The hiring announcement coincides with the opening of Chipotle's 100th Chipotlane restaurant in the U.S. These Chipotlanes generate higher throughput than traditional locations, according to the company.
- Chipotle has received nearly 700,000 applications since the beginning of the year, attributing this to its "best-in-class benefits and inclusive culture."
Chipotle's benefits include a debt-free college degree, access to mental healthcare and paid parental leave. The company has spent almost $30 million in incremental pay through the COVID-19 crisis on bonuses and assistance pay, Scott Boatwright, Chipotle's Chief Restaurant Officer, told Restaurant Dive.
"I really believe ... that we have one of the best [employee value propositions] in the industry today," he said. "We continue to add to that to ensure that we have best-in-class benefits for our people and continue to provide opportunities for them to grow both personally and professionally in our organization."
These benefits have led to lower turnover among Chipotle's employees, Laurie Schalow, Chipotle's Chief Corporate Affairs and Food Safety Officer, told Forbes in June.
Chipotle certainly isn't the only brand focused on the labor piece right now. Restaurants added 1.5 million jobs last month, with chains like McDonald's, Panda Express, Subway, Taco Bell and Dunkin' planning to hire thousands in the coming months. These hiring sprees perhaps illustrate which brands are expecting (or already experiencing) a strong recovery in a post-crisis environment.
For Chipotle, that recovery is likely being driven by its strong digital channels, which have become table stakes in the COVID-19 pandemic. Chipotle's digital sales grew over 80% during Q1, for example. The company is able to support and continue growing these channels with the addition of Chipotlanes and pick-up shelves alongside second makelines specifically dedicated to fulfilling online orders. Due to an increase in digital business, Chipotlanes, which the chain expects will make up 60% of new restaurants going forward, also require more labor, according to the press release.
The question is if those digital sales will be enough to balance out the costs of added labor, typically the highest expense for restaurant operators. During the company's Q1 call in April, CFO Jack Hartung said digital channels add labor efficiency.
"We know that our digital business is more efficient, it takes less labor on that digital makeline to serve as many customers. And so we're, in fact, seeing efficiencies in that. We're seeing that we're using less labor to deliver some of the sales that we have [had] to add hours for in the past," he said.
Higher unemployment, which was 11.1% in June, following record-low unemployment in 2019 and fewer available employees is perhaps why Boatwright told Restaurant Dive that the company is looking at the pandemic as "another opportunity … to really bring in some of the industry's best talent."