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Chick-fil-A operator offers employees three-day workweek: 'I want to lead with generosity'

Constantly striving to be a better business owner, Justin Lindsey decided to try to understand how he could make his employees' lives easier.

Chick-fil-A operator offers employees three-day workweek: 'I want to lead with generosity'
Cover Image Source: A Chick-fil-A restaurant is seen on July 05, 2022, in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Justin Lindsey isn't feeling the crunch of the labor shortage currently plaguing the food industry. While a number of restaurants across the country are struggling to find staff, this Miami Chick-fil-A operator is sifting through a horde of more than 400 applications a week. He started receiving applications in droves after he put out a different kind of hiring call. The selling point for all candidates was not the salary or the workplace itself, but the three-day workweek he proposed.

"I want to lead with generosity," Lindsey told TODAY. "And generosity for me is two things: It's pay and it's time." The Kendall Chick-fil-A store's operations have been managed by Lindsey since last summer. Constantly striving to be a better business owner, Lindsey decided to try to understand what he could do to improve the lives of the staff. "I realized, I'm asking a ton of these folks," he told QSR Magazine. "They're literally working 70 hours a week, week in and week out."


"Honestly, I can do better," he recalls thinking. That's when in February, he decided to form two "pods" of employees that would work 13- to 14-hour shifts three days a week instead of splitting those hours across the typical seven. Since implementing this system, Lindsey has enjoyed complete retention at the managerial level. There are around 20 front-line staff and 18 store leaders involved. 

So far, his game-changing workweek seems to be winning. 24 out of 140 team members signed up for the new schedule and every one of them has stayed with the program. "The reality is this schedule doesn't work for everyone. Not everyone wants to work longer days," explained Lindsey. "But for the ones that it does, it's cool to see the positive impact it's had on their lives." According to Lindsey, there are a few reasons why the program has been so successful. It gives employees a clear timetable and the freedom to organize their personal life in advance. Additionally, each month, someone receives a seven-day break. "We've taken the guesswork out of the schedule," said Lindsey. "Team members can now plan their lives in advance. They can plan childcare, school, vacations, etc."


The system has also allowed the pods to develop consistency through stability and familiarity. "What we've found is our pods are building these cohesive teams. They're getting to know the strengths of the people they're working with and the areas of opportunity," explained Lindsey, adding that the efficient workplace has also seen employees becoming close friends. "We even had pods going on vacation together."

The three-day workweek especially works for the single mothers and students among Lindsey's staff. "One of our leaders is getting ready to graduate from the University of Central Florida and she recently told me that she can't imagine how she would have graduated and did as well as she did in school on a traditional five-day workweek," he shared.


Allowing employees to choose a three-day workweek also reportedly sped up service and improved efficiency, ensuring a clean and safe restaurant that people want to come back to. "Honestly, it's attributed to this program from a leadership perspective," Lindsey said. Financially, the new system does not harm the employees or the business. The three-day workweek staff is also big fans of the pay. Even while they may be working fewer hours, they are still earning more per hour. "We took people in management who had been working for $19 an hour and now we have them making upwards of $30 to $35 an hour," said Lindsey. On the business side of things, this Chick-fil-A store is expected to generate $17 million in revenue this year—approximately $6 million more than the typical Cheesecake Factory. That puts the branch at the top of Chick-fil-A's AUV (average unit volume) range.


"I'm truly, from the bottom of my heart, I'm doing this because I think it's the right thing to do for you and for your families and for your school and for whatever that might be," Lindsey revealed he told his staff. "That is the reason behind doing this." The main takeaway from his experiment is the choice that workers get to plan their lives the way it suits them. "You give them options and you give them choices, and as long as those choices allow them to do what they want to do, then I think it's really powerful," he said.

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