Workers Reveal What It's Really Like To Work At Whataburger

Whataburger has been around since the 1950s, according to its website. The burger joint credits its 72 years of longevity in the fast food world to its commitment to making fresh burgers to order. And while there are plenty of quick service restaurants all over the U.S. where you can get delicious burgers and fries, Whataburger remains one of the most popular spots to do so. In fact, Whataburger is so beloved, back in 2019, per the Houston Chronicle, it even beat out In-N-Out for best regional fast food in a USA Today 10 Best Local Experts survey.  

Of course, ordering burgers from Whataburger is one thing, but when it comes to working behind that counter where orders are taken, burgers are flipped, and fries are fried , well that's an entirely different story. Working at a fast food restaurant is not easy. A writer at Vox revealed that working in this industry can easily lead to "burnout," while a colleague of the writer shared, "Fast food is intense! And it's stressful! You're always feeling rushed, you're in a time crunch for literally eight hours straight, [and] you're never allowed to have one moment just to chill." So, what is it like to work at an iconic burger place like Whataburger? Inquiring minds want to know.

Working at the chain can be a mixed experience

According to Whataburger, over 50,000 employees work for the chain, but employment is not a one size fits all position, and staff members of the chain have had various experiences within store walls. As several online reviews indicate, not all employees have had a wonderful time working at this fast food joint. One former employee notes that while Whataburger was a good job to get some business experience, the overall job was stressful, especially when they had to deal with "irrational customers" and problems that they themselves did not cause (via Glassdoor). Additionally, some employees shared that some of this quick service restaurant's locations may not be the cleanest of places to work at, per Niche. Clearly, this can make for an overall negative experience at any job. 

On the other hand, many employees have had a more positive experience at Whataburger. According to one staff member on Indeed, "Your responsibilities are well-defined and relatively simple to maintain." The simpleness of the job can make for an easier workload, and when you aren't stressed by a bunch of difficult tasks over the course of a day, your opinion of that position is more than likely to be a bit more on the positive end than not. There are a lot of factors that go into whether or not a job is enjoyable or not, and Whataburger employees are only further proof of this.

Some uniform policies are a bit questionable

When you walk into a Whataburger, you don't expect to see the employees wearing what they slept in, or anything other than the uniforms that they're designated to wear. According to Zippia, the Whataburger uniform is made up of the uniform shirt that the company gives out, as well as a visor and name tag. It is also permitted for employees to wear facial hair, so long as it is not an unkempt scraggly beard. Long or acrylic fingernails also seem to be a uniform violation. Overall, members of the staff are expected to keep their hair pulled back in some way, and maintain a neat presence for their customers.

This uniform policy appears to be a lot more relaxed than what you might find at a fancy restaurant, though this doesn't mean it's without its flaws. One part of the policy that many people are on the fence about, according to a post on Reddit, is that the staff is permitted to wear shorts. If you work in a hot, crowded fast food store or restaurant, this may seem like a blessing, but some comments note that if you're working near the fryers or grills, then there's a heightened risk of burn injury. Whataburger's uniform is pretty typical for what you might find at a fast food chain, though there seem to be mixed opinions about the policies — especially when it may put employees in danger.

The chili preparation varies based on location

Chili is a prominent ingredient in some of Whataburgers' more recent menu items. The limited-time Chili Cheeseburger, for example, is made with crunchy corn chips, mustard, and a beef chili, among other toppings (via QSR magazine). Many proclaim the menu items with chili on them to be the best on the Whataburger menu (via Houston Chronicle), so we could imagine that the burgers, fries, and any other Whataburger meals with chili get ordered quite a bit. Making lots of chili to serve on top of fries and burgers takes a lot of work, so Whataburger employees have used different methods of preparing and storing their chili, so that it tastes fresh and delicious. 

Some Whataburger staff members on Reddit have allegedly admitted that the chili is kept in a fridge, before they are told to put it on a grill to warm it up before serving it to customers. This allows the chili to stay fresh throughout the day, and lets employees easily heat it up when needed. Another user noted that they used to keep it on a grill throughout the day, before the store switched to putting the chili in the fridge and scooping it out (via Reddit). Depending on how the chili is made, stored, and served, it may taste a little different from a chili made of the exact same recipe — though aside from a cooler chili, you might not notice any real difference.

Even the most disgruntled employees appreciate the discount

If you worked at a pizza place or sandwich shop, how could you stand to be around the food without wanting a bite of what you're making? Spend a lot of time on the job and you may find yourself craving the food a store sells — perhaps more than once or twice a week — which may not be the best thing if you have a budget. Fortunately, by working at Whataburger, the employees get benefits that make this a bit easier for them.

According to Glassdoor, the discount that employees received on Whataburger's menu was originally 50%, though one worker noted that in 2022, it dropped to 10% from their experience. Either way, many workers are appreciative of the discount they get, citing it as one of the many pros that comes with working at the burger chain (as per Indeed). Another employee who didn't have as positive of a time at Whataburger admitted that even though they didn't have the best experience at Whataburger, they liked the discounts on the food, claiming it to be the "only good thing" about the chain. With burgers, fries, and shakes that many adore, it's easy to see why a discount at Whataburger would be appreciated by its staff.

The opportunities for growth may or may not be worth it

One might think the idea of a promotion would be enticing to an employee, but not everyone at Whataburger feels that moving up the chain of command is entirely worth it. Some claim that it just adds more responsibility and stress onto their workload, and the bonus that comes with the higher position isn't worth it (via Reddit). Most don't seem to feel this way, and for many, Whataburger can be a wonderful place to work. It's not easy to rise up the ranks, even at a burger chain like Whataburger, though employees at the restaurant have been able to find promotions and opportunities within the walls of Whataburger. 

Not all employees feel as though growth is limited. Other staff members are much more appreciative of the opportunities presented to them at Whataburger (via Indeed). They state that there was always room for growth and promotions at their store, which made for a much more positive working environment. Being a manager also forces someone to pay attention to the employees around them, and grow as a person. Teamwork and leadership are skills one can pick up at Whataburger, and even if you don't plan to stay with the restaurant for long, those skills can help you later down the line. Even if the promotions might be a hit or miss for some employees, opportunities are present for those who want to try and achieve them.

The busiest working days are on weekends

When you work in the fast food industry, or even at a sit-down restaurant, things are going to get pretty busy, especially if you work at a popular hamburger chain like Whataburger. Employees can be constantly bombarded with orders, leading to things becoming pretty chaotic at the store. Not every day is incredibly busy, fortunately, but for Whataburgers all across the country, there are certain days of the week that are far busier than others. Many employees have stuck around at the hamburger restaurant long enough to figure out which days are the busiest.

As is the case for most chain restaurants, Whataburger employees have found that weekends make up the busiest days for the food chain (via Indeed). This isn't fun for them — especially when a store finds itself short-staffed for a shift. Since many people have weekends off, we can see why the weekends would be the busiest time for the burger chain. Other employees back up weekends as being the most hectic, saying that specifically, Sunday was the busiest day for them. Obviously, a chain needs business to operate, but even as a customer, if you happen to be going to Whataburger on a weekend, just be aware that the store may be incredibly busy.

Managers can make or break a Whataburger working experience

A good manager can make the busiest days feel easier to push through. At Whataburger, employees have come across many different managers — and not all of them are all that nice. The kind of manager you find yourself with can depend on the location, and while some Whataburger employees can be incredible to work with, others may make working at one of the burger restaurants more stressful than the job needs to be.

Many employees have had to work under managers who haven't been the most enjoyable, and have led to said employees having a difficult time at work. One employee on Glassdoor claims that the management was so awful, that they wouldn't recommend a position at Whataburger to someone looking for a job. These claims are backed up by many other Whataburger employees. Many say that if they could, they'd change the management in their stores, and wish that their current management teams would get better at communicating with them, caring about their employees, and respecting those who work at Whataburger (via Comparably). Not every manager one works under will be awful — some managers can really improve a Whataburger working environment. It all depends on the location of the restaurant, and who happens to work there with you.

Some customers can be a handful to deal with

Many employees in the food industry have to deal with customers who come across as disrespectful and rude. At Whataburger, things are no different, and rude and impatient customers can make the working experience at the burger place especially unpleasant at times

According to a worker who claimed to have had a job at Whataburger for two years, a typical employee will come across all sorts of customers (via Reddit) through many different means. Whether one is attending to a customer in person, or trying to help them on the phone, there seem to be opportunities for customers to be as rude as they can be if everything isn't up to their standards. 

An employee can have the most supportive coworkers and manager, but that can't prevent customers with an attitude from ruining their shift. Some of the people who come to dine at Whataburger are so bad, that when they get angry about their order, they'll throw a fit, such as one customer who chucked a drink at an employee over an order dispute (via MSN). There's not too much a Whataburger employee can do to prevent angry customers from entering their stores, it's simply just a part of the job they have to deal with.

Employees enjoy the weekly pay

One of the most important aspects about any job, along with the experience that you get, is the pay.  At Whataburger, the average employee can get paid between $9 and $12 (via Daily Workhorse), though that can fluctuate depending on the location, and be more or less depending on your position. Working at a Whataburger is clearly not the most profitable job out there, but for someone who's in school or looking for part-time work it can provide a steady income.

Many Whataburger employees are highly appreciative of the pay that they receive, and are paid weekly (via Indeed). For some, this just provides a bit more peace of mind as it means that money is moving into an employee's bank account faster (via The Hill). Even employees who didn't have the best time at Whataburger agree that the weekly pay was something that they appreciated (as per Indeed), and we can see why. If you're putting up with difficult managers, coworkers, customers, and everything in between, receiving a paycheck at the end of the week likely brightens a Whataburger employee's day.

Many employees compete against other stores in the WhataGames

There are many restaurants that promote a culture of enjoyment and fun within their walls, with Whataburger being one of them. At Whataburger, you'll find that the chain holds an event called "The WhataGames," which promotes fun competition among its employees — with monetary prizes, as well. The WhataGames put Whataburger's Operating partners against each other, along with teams of Whataburger restaurant employees, and offer incredible customer service to their patrons (via Whataburger). The event happens every other year, and staff members of Whataburger seem to look forward to it.

There's a reason people will claim the WhataGames are the best part of working at Whataburger. More than 850 teams competed in the event in 2022. The winners of the competition get a good bit of cash, so we can see why Whataburger employees would enjoy these games. A former employee on Indeed notes that the Whatagames were a "Burger flinging, fast food show as a very delicious take on the Olympics," that made for a positive experience. This is also a great way to foster a corporate culture within a company, which Whataburger manages to do with these burger-based games and competition.