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Guac Is Extra, But Education Is Free: Chipotle Offers Tuition Coverage for Hourly Employees

Chipotle’s increased employee incentives include a new Chipotle Cultivate Education program intended to ease the burden of student debt.

By Allison Stone1851 Contributor
Updated 2:14PM 10/16/19

Franchise brands, especially in the restaurant industry, are feeling the pressure when it comes to retaining reliable employees. While some industry leaders have voiced concerns when it comes to footing the bill for increases to minimum wages and benefits, Chipotle and other brands are tackling the talent crisis head-on by doing just that. Chipotle crew members are now eligible for increased incentives and a suite of benefits similar to those typically reserved for salaried employees or those at the management level. 

QSR Magazine reported that the latest of these incentives includes coverage of 100% of tuition costs up front for 75 different types of business and technology degrees via partner Guild Education.

After 120 days, employees are eligible to enroll at a variety of nonprofit accredited universities. "Chipotle recognizes that financial barriers can be one of the biggest obstacles that impede our employees from achieving their fullest potential," said Marissa Andrada, Chipotle’s chief people officer, in a statement reported by QSR. "We are proud to launch this opportunity for debt-free degrees by providing free tuition to help our employees excel in all areas in their lives, both in and out of Chipotle."

This is an expansion of Chipotle’s existing tuition reimbursement program, which has funded over $20 million in tuition assistance in two years. According to QSR, the brand is even aiming to expand the tuition assistance program to dependents of employees for General Education Development and English as a Second Language classes by 2020.

Since the brand has started gradually implementing progressive employee benefit policies, Chipotle decreased turnover for hourly employees from 158% in 2017 to 144.9% in 2018. 

Read more about the program in QSR here.