Chipotle is preparing for its busiest time of year – March to May – by targeting 19,000 new hires throughout the next couple of months. To incentivize potential employees, the company has added several new benefits, including the addition of a student loan retirement match program.
As part of the program, facilitated through SoFi’s Student Loan Verification service, Chipotle matches up to 4% of an employee’s salary through contributions to their 401(k) plan if they make eligible student loan payments. The company said SoFi’s solution was launched in response to Congress’ approval of the Securing a Strong Retirement Act (Secure 2.0), allowing employees who qualify to be able to pay off their student debt and save for retirement simultaneously. Additional benefits introduced today include access to Cred.ai, a Visa card that provides faster access to paychecks and a “credit optimizer” to help build credit scores automatically. Also, Chipotle’s partnership with SoFi provides employees with access to a work dashboard, providing financial literacy resources, an assessment of their current financial outlook, and tools to improve. Finally, Chipotle’s new employee assistance program, SupportLinc powered by CuraLinc Healthcare, offers six free sessions with a licensed counselor or mental health coach, as well as access to resources and community support for legal, financial, and family matters.
According to the company, more than 73% of its employees are Gen Z and these benefits were created to ease some of their challenges. Gen Z has the highest debt loads of any generation and the fastest growing credit card debt. Further, Gen Z prioritizes mental health more than other demographics; according to a recent study from Ogilvy, 70% of Gen Z Americans said their mental health needs the most attention or improvement.
“Empowering our talent is embedded in our company’s culture,” Ilene Eskenazi, Chipotle’s chief human resources officer, said in a statement. “As we push toward our long-term goal of operating 7,000 restaurants in North America, it’s crucial that we listen to and adapt to the needs of our team members, so they can grow with us.”
These benefits are the latest efforts from the company aimed at improving recruitment and retention. In 2021, the company began offering $200 employee referral bonuses for crew members and $750 referral bonuses for apprentices and general managers, for instance. The company also offers an educational assistance program, a virtual mental wellness platform, and more. The company said it promoted over 26,000 employees internally in 2023, and nearly 90% of its current restaurant leadership started as crew members.
“Today we have many examples of crew members rising through the ranks and now holding restaurant leadership roles, which are among the proudest accomplishments of this organization,” COO Scott Boatwright said in a statement. “With 2024’s ‘burrito season’ approaching, there are more career opportunities than ever at Chipotle.”
According to the 2023 State of the Industry report from the National Restaurant Association, most operators said they struggle to fill critical positions. Several restaurant executives have acknowledged the need to have more than just higher pay to win the recruitment and retention war. Dutch Bros CEO Christine Barone said during a recent interview that younger employees especially are looking for benefits and a positive environment as much if not more than they are wages, for instance. As such, several brands have spent the past few years ramping up their benefits offerings, including Dine Brands, which recently added a new Parent Transition Program. Noodles & Company recently added pet care support, backup dependent care, and immigration, reimbursement. Last year, Brinker extended its educational benefits to family members of Chili’s and Maggiano’s employees. TGI Fridays even started reimbursing its general managers for vacation expenses last year.
It's also worth noting that Chipotle’s 19,000-new-hire target exceeds its “burrito season” hiring goals from the past few years, which averaged 15,000 people, illustrating the company’s continued growth and focus on operations and throughput.
Contact Alicia Kelso at [email protected]