Chick-fil-A finally gave employees what it gives customers (no, not chicken)

Do you want to be a good boss? Think about what your employees really want, just like you do about your customers.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer
Chick-fil-A signboard against brick building

Employees are people, too.

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You're rolling up to a drive-thru.

You're thinking about what you want. You're also thinking about how long it'll take before you can place that first hot french fry into your begging gullet.

Because you know life is short, your gullet can't wait, and your hangriness lurks like an impending doom.

Fast-food companies have thought long and hard about your predicament. They've geared themselves toward your instant satisfaction.

It's odd, then, that many fast-food companies don't seem so inclined to consider their employees with the same rigorous care.

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The fastest thing about fast-food jobs tends to be the employee turnover. And still, companies like McDonald's insist that, despite their incursion into robot world, they need to become excellent employers.

This only made me wonder about relatively recent events at a Chick-fil-A in Florida. Its owner-operator, Justin Lindsey, decided to consider his employees and the lives they want to lead.

So instead of asking them to do relatively short -- aka normal -- shifts, he suggested a three-day week, where a shift might last from 5am to 6pm.

My first instinct was to wonder who could tolerate thirteen continuous hours working in a Chick-fil-A. Yes, the company is known for its peculiar attention to hospitality, but thirteen hours is a long time. And surely thirteen hours in a Chick-fil-A is a very long time.

Lindsey explains his thinking in a very interesting way. According to Business Insider, he said something quite moving: "Traditionally, we had used the term, 'the gift of time,' to refer to serving our guests in a quick and timely fashion. But we had always left employees out of that equation."

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It's strange how some companies don't consider giving employees truly useful gifts rather than employee of the month.

Lindsey explained how he went about giving his employees time: "My idea was to provide staff with this gift of time by creating a scheduling system where they would know exactly what days they worked for as long as they work here."

Normally, employees wouldn't know from one week to the next when their days off might be -- which wasn't entirely ideal.

So he separated the employees into two pods. One working the first three days, the other the next three. (Chick-fil-A, bless it, doesn't open on Sundays.)

It dawned on Lindsey that employees having random shifts wasn't so good for his business.

Now, employees leave a detailed report of everything that happened in their three days, so that the other pod is fully au fait. And now, employees do their three long days and they're no longer on call. At all. For four whole days.

Surely, though, business hasn't been easy.

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Well, Lindsey claims: "It had always become a struggle if another restaurant or another business opened around us and they were paying a little bit more than we would, we'd occasionally see people leave. Now we don't experience that."

He also says it's accelerated his ability to see who has real talent and employees' ability to advance.

Naturally, this wouldn't work for everyone. It's remarkable, though, how as we learn that Elon Musk orders Twitter employees to work every hour he spends (and even cancels their days of rest), a Chick-fil-A owner-operator stopped, considered, and tried to find a better way for everyone.

Of course it sounds idealistic -- relatively -- and I'm sure this Chick-fil-A still has its problems.

Still, too many bosses -- even in tech -- believed that the purpose of giving employees benefits was to keep them tied to the company for more time.

Yes, we have a gym, free lunches, and really relaxing bean bags.

How many, though, have considered what they can do to give their employees a better life away from work?

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