Shake Shack has ended its four-day workweek experiment due to COVID-19. Here's how the chain is planning to attract new employees.

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Shake Shack has ended its four-day workweek experiment due to COVID-19. Here's how the chain is planning to attract new employees.
Shake Shack is pausing its four-day work week test. Shake Shack
  • Shake Shack is ending its four-day workweek experiment, which launched for managers in early 2019.
  • In place of the four-day workweek, Shake Shack is increasing wages and bonuses to attract workers.
  • The restaurant industry, still wracked by COVID-19 losses, saw employment fall by 42,000 jobs in August.

Shake Shack started testing a four-day workweek in 2019 to help recruit managers at the fast-growing burger chain.

But Shake Shack, which operates about 340 restaurants in the US and abroad, told Insider that it has stopped offering the scheduling perk to managers. Going forward, the chain is instead focusing on recruiting hourly workers amid a prolonged labor shortage that continues to challenge the restaurant industry.

"Regarding the 4-day work week, it's currently on pause due to COVID-19," a Shake Shack spokesperson told Insider in an email. "There's always a possibility that it could return, but right now Shake Shack's workplace initiatives are focused on diversity and career growth as these are two things the company has heard from employees are important to them."

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Two years ago, CEO Randy Garutti revealed the four-day work test for store managers during a conference in Las Vegas. At the time, he said supervisors at a handful of stores were working 40 hours in a four-day work period.

Supervisors trialing the new work schedule told Garutti that having three days off improves their lifestyle and finances because they don't have to pay for an extra day of child care, according to a March 2019 Nation's Restaurant News article.

"The recruiting possibilities are huge," Garutti said at the conference.

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Recruitment is still a priority for Shake Shack, the company said.

In July, Shake Shack announced plans to spend $10 million to attract and retain both hourly workers and salaried managers. That includes spending $9 million increasing wages for workers at more than two-thirds of its restaurants in 2021, the company said.

Shake Shack is also spending $1 million on hiring bonuses and giving managers perks, like helping them pay their cell phone bills and covering the cost of subscription services like Spotify. The hiring bonus program, which had offered bonuses of $1,000 for managers and $500 for hourly workers, ended on August 31.

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Incentivizing restaurant and bar workers has been vital for the restaurant industry, which saw employment fall by 42,000 jobs in August, the first downturn since April 2020. Overall, the leisure and hospitality sector, including restaurants, is down 1.7 million jobs compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Shake Shack has ended its four-day workweek experiment due to COVID-19. Here's how the chain is planning to attract new employees.
The restaurant industry has suffered job losses throughout the pandemic. NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images

While Shake Shack is temporarily giving up on the four-day workweek perk, restaurant industry veteran Jason Berry told Insider that he plans to launch a test of a four-day workweek for salaried chefs and managers. Each shift would last 12 hours and focus only on dining room or kitchen duties.

Berry, founder of Washington DC-based restaurant group KNEAD Hospitality + Design, said he's excited about the possibility of recruiting experienced managers who have left the business due to its "grueling" schedule.

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"By adding a program that allows for better work/life balance and flexibility, we believe we will cast a wider net and attract those that want to work in this industry but have either left due to the hours required or [been] disincentivized by the typical lifestyle," Berry said.

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