A Chick-fil-A operator in Miami recently got 429 applications for a job within a week of posting. The secret? A three-day work week.
Justin Lindsey started a three-day work week in February 2022, leading to some skepticism among restaurant leaders.
“A lot of it was kind of shock and awe, and then questioning,” Lindsey told Nation’s Restaurant News. “That was the initial phase, we had to get past the thought of people [wondering], ‘Okay, first off, how long is this really gonna last?’”
All 18 managers had to be on board before Lindsey would start the program. He divided them into two “pods.” The pods essentially work three days of 13-14 hour shifts, then have four days off, with one seven-day stretch per month where they are off consecutively.
Lindsey described his motivation as this: “They [were coming] in to open the restaurant at five o’clock in the morning, get everything ready. And then at two o’clock in the afternoon, they were leaving and getting ready to step out for another leader or another team member. And we wondered why it wasn’t consistent. It’s just a constant revolving door throughout the day, right? So [they think] ‘I’m doing really good. And I’m comfortable. And it’s one o’clock and everything’s clicking great. And then, hey, I’m getting ready to go home for the day.’”
Managers in the Chick-fil-A unit outside of Miami.
The 13-14 hour, three-days-a-week strategy came about from the idea that it takes time for a team to click. Then the pods came about, and teams began working together every day for days on end, becoming a family unit.
Lindsey told Nation’s Restaurant News that his two pods started a kickball game in the park and organized the food. Even the general manager is in on the fun — he’s the referee! It’s something that would have taken countless emails and Slack messages before, but he only found out about it after it had been planned 100% by employees.
“I’m sitting there and I'm like, ‘Okay, I think we're doing something right here.’ Because in all my years, we’ve never been able to pull together the entire group of people to do something like that without basically pulling teeth and sending mass emails and different things like that,” he said.
And that something right includes retention, which is 100%, according to Lindsey. The only people who his franchise area has lost have been let go by Lindsey because they weren’t a fit. People are clamoring to join the three-day workweek — just look at the job posting on Indeed.
So far, the unit has almost 40 employees — 18 managers and about 20 employees — who have signed up for the program — not all of the workers, but a lot of them. More are still joining.
“People [we hire] basically line up saying, ‘hey, how do I be a part of this?’” Lindsey said.
Lindsey, left, said the program is so powerful because of the consistency.
“A lot of people do have a passion to work in the industry, but still want to have [their] time. [They] value their time, they value their family, they value school… whatever it may be. This schedule gives them that opportunity, and it takes out the guesswork,” he said. “You know what times you work, you know what days you work. They can look out in December right now and see, these are the three days of the week that I work in December.”
That’s something quick-service employees aren’t used to getting in their jobs. Lindsey told Nation’s Restaurant News stories of workers who have used their days off to visit sick relatives in other countries or take trips — something most QSR workers don’t have the chance to do with their unpredictable schedule and low PTO days.
Lindsey said though he works more than three days a week, he enjoys hearing the stories of his employees’ adventures, whether it be hiking in Kentucky or rock climbing, or driving up to New York City for the scenery.