The Big Problem Chick-Fil-A Employees Are Facing

On Forbes' 2021 Best Large Employers list, Chick-fil-A comes in at 133rd, well behind its industry peers like In-N-Out (sixth), The Cheesecake Factory (68th), and Five Guys (113th). That may seem odd, especially considering that Chick-fil-A trains its employees to be almost nauseatingly nice. In 2019, Business Insider called the fast-food chain "the most polite in the industry," pointing to the flowers it puts on customers' tables, its employees' impeccable manners, and the relentless removal of trash from the restaurants' dining areas. As a corporation, clearly, Chick-fil-A wants to treat its customers as VIPs. But rest assured, when you hear "my pleasure" instead of "you're welcome" coming out of the mouths of its staff, that's not necessarily because it is "their pleasure" to serve.

That's at least according to a string of recent Reddit threads on a Chick-fil-A workers subreddit, all complaining of the same problem. As one of the fast-food giant's current employees succinctly put it: "feeling burned out to the point I've lost all motivation" (via Reddit).

Why some Chick-fil-A employees have reached a breaking point

It's not (all about) the pay. Chick-fil-A's salaries, at least according to Indeed, range between $9.29 to $12.23 an hour for typical back-of-the-house and front-of-the-house, entry-level jobs. That puts the chain on par with what McDonald's pays its employees (via Indeed). But Chick-fil-A's staff's reported burnout seems much more directly related to the pace at which the company expects them to operate than the salaries it offers. The chain's extraordinary long (and sometimes dangerous ) drive-thru lines are only part of the equation.

"It's so hard to put on a happy face and seem like the perfect employee to guests when in reality I'm exhausted from the constant rush of my location, and the amount of crap I have to put up with from guests," wrote another alleged employee in the Chick-fil-A worker subreddit. "Don't even get me started on the fact that we're always understaffed, yet expected to give 110 percent." Others chimed in with similar feelings. "I started asking people to cover my shifts and it got really bad where I was handing out payments of $75+ for people to cover a 4-hour shift," one disgruntled employee responded. A third thread on the same subreddit spoke to similar issues with weariness and stress. "I feel so burnt out and like I can't do anything else when I come home from work," a Chick-fil-A employee admitted. "I haven't taken a day off yet from the job as I feel I would make myself look bad."