At a time of global market uncertainty, Chipotle is going all in and hiring 4,000 new workers.
On Monday, the chain announced it would hold its first-ever National Career Day on Sept. 9, with plans to hire 4,000 new employees. That means, in a single day, Chipotle could increase its workforce by nearly 7 percent.
All 1,900 restaurants across the U.S. will be holding open interviews from 8 to 11 a.m. The new employees will fill open positions at Chipotle, as well as staff the 190 to 205 new locations that Chipotle plans to open this year.
The decision to hold this national event in early September is rooted in a traditional slight downturn in applications in the early fall, according to Chris Arnold, Chipotle's communication director. While the chain is not reliant on seasonal workers, Arnold says that back-to-school season tends to deter students and families who may otherwise apply for jobs at Chipotle during the period.
"We thought by doing this hiring day, it would be a helpful way to get an influx in applicants at a time when we tend to see a downturn, but also then to talk about the nature of opportunity that we provide, which we've really always thought of as being one of the real hallmark of our people story at Chipotle," says Arnold.
Chipotle has long emphasized its people culture, which the company says promotes career advancement within the company and compensation such as paid sick leave, vacation time and tuition reimbursement. Not every employee is a happy one, however – there are currently a number of lawsuits against the company, with current and former employees claiming the chain forced them to work extra hours without overtime pay.
As Chipotle faces employee lawsuits, a common occurrence in the restaurant industry, other chains are making changes to boost their reputations. McDonald's announced plans in April to increase hourly wages for employees to at least $10 per hour, as well as allowing for personal paid time-off. Other chains hiking wages and beefing up benefits include the Cheesecake Factory and Starbucks, while fast-casual chains like Shake Shack emphasize the importance of well-paid, dedicated employees. However, since Chipotle is not a franchise, it is able to roll out hiring pushes and employee policies on a company-wide level in a way many other chains cannot.
By dedicating resources to market Hiring Day as a national event, the chain can attract more new employees than necessary across all regions, instead of relying on localized job fairs and hiring days. Each location is prepared to hold up to 60 interviews – far more than the number of new employees needed at any one location. Even if each new employee is hired to work at an existing restaurant (unlikely, as many will work at new, still-unopened locations), on average, each restaurant would only hire two new employees. Since the company hiring process is through a unified national employment system, Chipotle can then fit potential employees into openings across the country.
The one potential wrinkle in Chipotle's plan is the current uncertain market environment. Traditionally, uncertainty encourages hiring freezes. Arnold says that, while Chipotle is a publicly traded company, it has no reason to believe National Hiring Day will be affected.
"The nature of our business is such that we need people to staff our restaurants and do the work that we do. And, we're always adding restaurants," says Arnold. "With that and with the normal pace of turnover, there's always work to be done and there are always opportunities for people."