7 Fast Food Companies Worth Working For... And Why

January 26, 2016

The minimum wage, maximum stress lifestyle is a very real struggle for fast food employees looking to make ends meet in this economy. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t great companies out there trying to flip our preconceived notions about burger flipping on their head.

Let’s take a look at the fast food companies that are doing the best they can to empower their employees with some impressive (and unique) benefits.

1. In-N-Out

fastjobs4

Quality employees can taste, too. Photo: Joe Loong / Flickr

In-N-Out is the Cadillac of burger joints and apparently also of fast food employees. Besides having the highest starting salary of any chain ($10.50/hr), it also offers access to group healthcare, vision and dental for even part-time employees.

Better yet, the group promotes mostly from within, meaning that it provides opportunities for growth, bucking the cliche of dead-end fry cook carriers. Consequently, hiring is very competitive, and it’s rumored that you can’t even get an interview without a referral from a current employee.

2. Starbucks

fastjobs6

And you’ll never worry that your office will run out of coffee. Photo: HAO XING / Flickr

One of the best features of Starbucks is how ubiquitous it is. Going to college? There’s a Starbucks there. Want to move to Boston? There’s also a Starbucks there.

But no matter where you go and so long as you work 20+ hours a week, the company will perk you up with 401(K) matching, bonuses, and discounted stock purchases. They’ll also fully reimburse you for each year of college you complete online at Arizona State University. Oh, and you also receive a free pound of coffee a week – that’s a lot, eh?

3. Chipotle

fastjobs5

Another perk: you know you’ll never be under-fed! Photo: @bskyfitness / Instagram

While their food quality has been called into questions of late, no one can deny that Chipotle is one of the most desirable fast-casual chains for employees. In addition to offering some of the highest average wages for crew members ($9/hr), they promote nearly 96% of their management from within.

Manager salaries also beat out other chains, ranging from $45k to $60k, meaning there’s a future for you in burrito stuffing. If you keep moving up, you can become a restaurateur for the company, which comes complete with stock options and a company car.

4. Five Guys Burgers and Fries

fastjobs2

Great for employees of all ages! Photo: Jazz Guy / Flickr

The fastest-growing fast food chain in the country has had to adapt on the fly, but that hasn’t dimmed their view of putting employees first. The company pays above average for line workers and managers, with a notable tendency to hire from within.

Employees will also enjoy paid sick leave, which is an extremely rare perk among fast food workers. Their tip jar also ensures workers have a few bucks to go home with, and the free meal perks are always enjoyable for this cult-following burger joint.

5. Panda Express

fastjobs7

Is it safe to say Panda Express employees are pretty FORTUN-ATE? Photo: @gorogorocomic / Instagram

After In-N-Out, Panda Express reports the highest hourly starting wages for employees (starting at $9.01), though it also comes with the expectation of working long hours. With a well-plotted career advancement path, it might be worth the extra effort to have a job that can support you and let you grow into the employee you want to be.

The family-oriented company also likes to hire former military, meaning that veterans can jump the line when it comes to working for this top-notch organization.

6. Shake Shack

fastjobs1

If I were surrounded by milkshakes every day, I’d be happy, too. Photo: Conway L / Flickr

In addition to other restaurants on this list with their traditional perks (401(K) matching, health benefits, higher than minimum wage pay), Shake Shack also focuses on making their working environment a fun one. To that end, they host a yearly company-wide retreat and feature employee appreciation days. There’s also access to management training course so you can move up and exercise classes so you can take it to the limit.

7. Chick-fil-A

fastjobs3

This meal could be yours—every shift—for free. Photo: Michael Gras, M.Ed. / Flickr

It’s nice to know that you’ll always have Sunday off, but that’s not the only thing that puts Chick-fil-A on this list. The company maintains an effort-based raise system, which keeps employees enthusiastic while a free meal every shift is just plain old delicious. Full-time employees have access to healthcare while the company’s lenient policy of vacation time also scores high marks.