The 2-Minute Thought: Doing Good Work at In-N-Out Burger

USA Today

USA Today

It’s always a source of wonder when fast food chain In-N-Out Burger ranks near the top of Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work, as it has in recent years.  This year (the 2017 list) it ranked seventh nationally. Silicon Valley News reported that In-N-Out was the third best place to work in Silicon Valley and surpassed only by number 1 Facebook and number 2 Google.  It tied with LinkedIn and came out ahead of Apple, Nvidia, Salesforce, and Adobe.  That’s pretty good for a burger joint.

If you look at the employee reviews Glassdoor has about working at In-N-Out, you’ll see comments like “Had great pay for the work you were doing and benefits were amazing,” as well as “The fast paced environment got me ready for my next career move.”  Workers say they value the flexible scheduling, love their coworkers and bosses, feel they can move up quickly, and enjoy the fun atmosphere.  Others mention the dental and vision benefits they get as part-timers. 

There are negatives too, of course – as there are for every company.  At In-N-Out, they largely revolve around the frenetic pace, which can be “exhausting” and “stressful.”

 Still, it seems In-N-Out is getting things more right than wrong. 

Malcolm Gladwell has said there are three things that make for meaningful work: complexity, autonomy, and a relationship between effort and reward.  The website “80,000 hours”, which has reviewed over 60 studies on great careers, focuses on the combination of doing something you’re good at with doing work that helps others.  That means a successful career is not as simple a matter as pursuing your “passion” – which, incidentally, can change more than you think over time.  It’s more, as I’ve heard it once put, combining what you want to do with what the world wants you to do

Other important factors listed by “80,000 hours” are having supportive coworkers that you like, meeting basic needs like fair pay and hours, and fitting into your personal life.  In addition, engaging work should allow a “state of flow” – a combination of clear tasks and feedback but some freedom and variety.

Apparently, In-N-Out Burger is doing pretty well at all these things.  What it shows us is that you don’t have to be pursuing the cure for cancer or a Nobel Prize in your job for it to be a great one.  Grand career vision isn’t as necessary as seeing that there is good work in the service of others all around us.  

Please Note: The 2-Minute Thought will be on holiday for two weeks and return January 5.  Happy Holidays to all.