Shake Shack Pays Employees a Living Wage, Offers Full Benefits, Stays in Business


Prepare to have your entire understanding of the universe turned upside down: 1. Shake Shack offers employees living outside of New York City a $9.50 an hour wage, and New Yorkers a $10.00 an hour wage. 2. On top of that, they add percentage of the company’s top line sales to workers’ wages, so the average paycheck is around $10.70 an hour. 3. They also give full-time employees health, dental, vision, retirement, and disability benefits, as well as paid time off. Basically, Shake Shack burger flippers have it better than the rest of us ever will.

Think Progress spoke with CEO Randy Garutti and he explained how this business model is possible, and *gasp* profitable for a fast food restaurant:

The company pays about 70 percent of employees’ health care premiums and also matches contributions to their 401(k)s. He added that he is “more excited” than all of these perks about how many employees move up into manager roles. “There are a lot of people who started making $9 an hour and are now general managers in our restaurants making very good money,” he said. The owners started in fine dining and brought the compensation practices from those restaurants into its original burger and hot dog stand.

When asked if these practices have come with concrete benefits for the company itself, he responded, “Absolutely,” adding, “Our turnover is lower, we can hire the best, they stay longer, and we can grow them into management.” And it pays off for customers. “If the team feels taken care of, then they’ll go out and take care of the guests.”

Shake Shack should probably set up a support site for its employees with helpful advice on how to tip their massage therapists soon.


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