UBS says Chipotle, Dunkin’, and Sonic have the lowest employee satisfaction, creating a massive problem for companies as they struggle to hire

Popeyes sign now hiring
The labor shortage is hitting fast food restaurants.

  • Dunkin’, Sonic, and Chipotle have some of the lowest worker satisfaction, UBS says.
  • Restaurant workers are more satisfied overall than they were before COVID-19.
  • Workers are leaving the industry at a record rate.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Restaurant workers are quitting at record levels, but employees at some chains are more unhappy than others.

UBS analysts used Glassdoor employee reviews and an analysis of wages and benefits to determine which restaurants had the most dissatisfied workers, and would therefore likely have the most trouble finding workers given the national labor shortage.

UBS looked at chains in five categories: traditional quick service, pizza, coffee, fast-casual, and casual dining. Starbucks, LongHorn, and Texas Roadhouse had the highest employee satisfaction levels across all categories, while Dunkin’, Sonic, and Chipotle were on the lower end.

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Full-service workers had higher average satisfaction scores than fast-food workers. The analysts tracked scores from 2019 to 2021 to see changes over time. Jack in the Box and Taco Bell had the greatest improvement in employee satisfaction, while Chipotle and Popeyes declined. UBS also noted that Chipotle has one of the highest wages of its competitors, and recently raised pay.

Surprisingly, overall restaurant workers’ satisfaction is higher than it was before the pandemic, UBS found. Despite workers saying they are happier, they’re quitting more than ever. The quit rate, which refers to the percentage of people who voluntarily leave their jobs over the period, reached 5.6% in April for the foodservice and accommodations sector. That number is an all-time high for the industry, according to Gordon Haskett Research Advisors, and it was more than twice the rate of the economy as a whole, not counting farming jobs.

The high quit rate is an “indication that restaurant sector employees are leaving their jobs to pursue higher wage rate opportunities – in both other sectors and other restaurant concepts,” Gordon Haskett’s analysts said in a report.

In other words, restaurant jobs didn’t necessarily get worse, but other opportunities available to workers got better. Some workers are taking these conditions as an opportunity to leave retail and restaurant jobs to get away from low pay and difficult customers, and a growing number of openings in the labor market is making it easier to transition to new careers. Some workers who were furloughed or laid off early in the pandemic may never return to fast food and customer service work.

One Starbucks worker in Atlanta told Insider that she left for a job with better pay and benefits. The final straw for leaving her job of two years, she said, was realizing how her pay compared to the increasingly pricey drinks Starbucks sells.

“It took me a literal day to find a better job,” she said.

Meanwhile, restaurants are struggling to keep jobs filled. Restaurants and stores are looking to staff up and return to normal as COVID-19 restrictions lift and the country slowly reopens. As some businesses report a lack of candidates for open positions, many are offering perks, bonuses, and benefits to new employees just to get them in for interviews.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

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