When it comes to serving with a smile, fast food chains are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up. Labor issues have worsened in the sector over the years, with more than 60% of fast food owners reporting that they closed their dining rooms last year due to a lack of staff.
Working long, busy hours for notoriously low wages and few benefits, it’s no wonder quick service workers feel like they’re not being treated well. But not all fast food brands suffer from the same worker dissatisfaction. And according to recent data, one restaurant chain in particular ranks above the rest when it comes to employees wanting to stay.
Sonic Drive-In is the #1 food service employer based on employee retention, according to a ranking by Resume.io. Data shows that the burger chain manages to retain its staff for nearly six years on average, which is quite a long time considering the nature of the job. A shocking 100% annual turnover is not uncommon for the chain Restaurants.
And Don’t Miss This Once America’s Largest Restaurant Chain Just Closed Its Last Location
One of the entry jobs to Sonic Drive-In is Carhop/skating Carhop. The position is similar to a traditional restaurant server position, allowing employees to collect tips, deliver food outside and work more closely with customers. Many employees who start at Sonic start out as carhops. Although the study doesn’t show that carhops are happier employees, good advice, which Sonic encourages, has been known to raise the salary average while having time outdoors can have cognitive benefits.
“I worked there for years and met tons of people who also continued to work there for years. I had a lot of fun and would definitely go back,” said a former carhop from Sonic on Reddit. “It’s not easy, but tips are great, especially in the south!”
While Sonic ranked at the top for having some of the happiest employees, Popeyes had the hardest time retaining staff. The fried chicken supplier is unable to retain its employees for even a full year.
The brand found success during the Chicken Sandwich Wars, but quickly fell into a labor slump in 2021 when at least 40% of channel locations were forced to close or partially close due to a lack of staff. Although Popeyes ranked last on the employee retention list, staff shortages are a trending issue in almost every fast food chain.
Chains have raised wages to tackle shortages, which have risen 10% this year. According to US Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, fast food and counter workers earned $12.07 an hour with an average annual wage of $25,490 last year. For perspective, according to Business Internthe median necessary living wage in the United States is $67,690 per year, well over twice the salary of a fast food worker.
Amber Lake is a staff writer at Eat This, Not That! and holds a journalism degree from UNF in Jacksonville, Florida. Read more