Panera Bread Employee Reviews

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Best first job
Service Associate (Current Employee) –  ConnecticutJuly 14, 2014
When I first went through training, called Planet Bread, they said, "this will be the best first job you could have experienced. Once you leave us and go to another job, you'll realize how spoiled you actually were!" I know this is true even though I'm still employed. We are spoiled, although there are some negative aspects to the job.

I would like to first say that I started when the cafe FIRST opened, so we were all new. If you have this opportunity, I highly recommend it! There are big differences between opening a cafe and starting in one that has already been up and running.

We started out with training, which lasted a week or so. The hours were non-negotiable (you could either come morning or night) and as a junior in high school (3 towns over) at the time, it was extremely difficult. One con, we were not compensated for this time. We did, however get a crazy amount of free food to take home (it was the food we practiced making).

Once you get that out of the way and are opened about a year, you go from staffing over 4 pages of employees to about 1.5 pages (about 30 total). By this time, everyone has gotten to know each other very well and we all act like family. This is where the opening a cafe aspect comes in to help because we all started at the same level.

They (the managers) try to cross-train as much as possible. This may look like a typical cashier getting trained on salads on a slow afternoon. That's always a fun way to switch it up and can be a pro. Every service person (includes cashier and barista) must learn dining room at some point. This is one of the
  more... hardest jobs, I think. This includes constantly cleaning tables and sweeping (carpeted) floors, keeping everything completely stocked, changing coffees every hour, and in my case, running food out to tables. My cafe was one of the test cafes that decided to do table service so every order needs to be brought out to the person's table within 6.5 minutes of the order being placed. If you're new, they'll most likely stick you in the dining room for a while until you learn the ropes. That is probably the most difficult your job will get as a service employee. However, line associates sometimes have to unload the truck when it comes which can take hours, depending on your cafe's volume and standing in the walk in (fridge) for hours at a time.

This job teaches you amazing customer service skills. We are reminded over and over again to do practically whatever it takes to make that customer happy before they walk out those doors to go home. Sometimes, this includes giving them a free cookie if their order was messed up and sometimes it may include a free meal. For example, if they have a to-go order and it has taken too long, offer them a free soda while they wait. If they don't like their sandwich, absolutely not a problem to get them a brand new one, whichever they would like. This is all part of the job. You must also be sincere for this part of it because if you sound like you're annoyed and offering them a free cookie, they'll think you're just trying to get them to leave. But if you really are sincere, and not just acting, they will see that you really do care and want to fix the mistake. We value that a customer will be just as pleased if a problem is properly corrected than if there were no problem at all. If you couldn't tell, we take customer service very seriously!

One con though, is the management. The individuals aren't bad (you will have that one manager who makes you dread your shift, though). The lack of communication between the managers is the issue. I'm not sure how often they are all in contact with each other but it shows that it isn't enough. Just today, there was a scheduling mix up at my cafe that I had already settled with one manager and the manager on duty today called me, totally clueless to the problem. Overall, the managers are very understanding and treat you like family. They recognize strengths and help you work towards fixing your weaknesses. We often get pins for having great service and during our evaluations (every 6 months), they go over what you are doing great at and what you can fix. Motivation is really good here, including sales contests (whoever can upsell the most gets a free meal/shirt/gift certificate), and sometimes our manager will buy us all Chinese food on a saturday night shift to let us know that we're working hard. At my cafe, we are having a huge cookout this month for all of our hard work and staying a "safe cafe" (not having any injuries for an entire year... we get compensated for this) The amount of motivation is a pro.

As far as advancement goes, if you want to move up, you will. Work for it and they will surely notice.

Employee discount is 65% in my location, which is pretty good. I've heard of fast food places giving only 10% off. My location's off duty discount is 15%!

One really nice thing that Panera has is called Helping Hands. It is an organization that it funded by employees. You can choose to have some of your paycheck go into a fund to help your fellow employees in need (I donate $1 every paycheck). This really helps a lot of people. I personally know one person who was homeless when he got his first interview here and the organization set him up with an affordable apartment. I also know one woman who couldn't afford her rent and was losing her apartment and the organization paid her rent for a few months, as well as giving her food. It really is like a huge family.

Now that I am almost 18, and the youngest employed since we've opened, everyone is sad to see me go off to college across the country and they are throwing me a birthday/going away party. If that doesn't show you how the employees really are, then I don't know what does.
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Pros
employee discount, great training program, willingness to hire minors, amazing coworkers, extremely flexible scheduling
Cons
lack of communication, rush times are fast paced, rarely give raises
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Decent starter job
Associate (Former Employee) –  South Elgin, ILJuly 12, 2015
I started working for Panera around the age of 16. It was my first job.

The training was decent. I spent the first week or so watching videos and taking tests on a computer. After that, I was moved onto "the line" where the sandwiches, soups and salads are made. I had a trainer walk me through everything until I was comfortable. Never once was I thrown into a situation or given a task that I wasn't first trained for and never once was I ashamed to ask questions when I wasn't sure how to handle a certain situation.

The hours were pretty good. I was a high school student at the time, so I was unable to work during school hours and preferred not to close on weekday nights, as I wouldn't get home until almost 11 at night leaving no time for homework and hardly enough sleep before school the next day. The managers were very understanding and would only schedule me for weekends. On weekdays that I WAS scheduled, I was not asked to start until roughly 4:30 P.M. (ample time to get home from school and change into my uniform) and was only scheduled to work until around 8:30 or 9 P.M. When it comes to requesting certain days off, I the managers were also very good. As long as I requested the day off within a reasonable amount of time (1 - 2 weeks before hand), I usually was given the day off.

The people were great. One of Panera's rules is "no jerks". This means everyone you work with is actually fun to be around. We did have a couple of "less than friendly" people sneak through the interview process and get the job, but they didn't last long. Despite leaving Panera
  more... almost 3 years ago, I'm still friends with a lot of people I worked with there.

The one downside to Panera was that there was little room for growth. I worked there for five years and always maintained the same number of hours. I was only trained to work the line and wash dishes despite my request to be trained in the bakery. This limited the total number of hours I was able to work in a week. The "pay raises" I also received while working there were less than significant. I started working for what was minimum wage at the time. When I finally got my first raise, it was only because minimum wage had gone up. This was the pattern for the next three or four pay raises. By the time I had left Panera, five years later, I was making more money, but only because the state of Illinois said they had to. My salary only went up when minimum wage did.

Customers are night and day. When I say this, I mean that their either the nicest people you will ever meet, or absolutely crazy. There's a lot of regulars that come in. You get to know their name. They get to know you. Often times we would have orders ready for certain customers before they even came in because they were so well known in the store. On the other hand, because Panera is on the more expensive side of "fast food", there are people that will go ballistic on you for the smallest reason. I once made a turkey sandwich for a customer and forgot to put onions on it. Honest mistake. Instead of coming up to the counter and saying "Excuse me, I think you forgot the onions. Can I please have some?" he walked up to the counter, asked for the "idiot that made his sandwich". I approached and asked if I could help him. He pulled out his phone, snapped my picture, and told me he was going to send in a complaint about me to someone higher and that he hoped I was fired. Needless to say, the managers understood that it was an honest mistake and that this certain individual must have just been having a bad day. Incidents like this should not reflect poorly on Panera, as you will deal with customers like this in any customer service job, but it does happen.

All in all, a pretty great place for a student looking for a part time job as long as your aren't expecting to be making huge amounts of money.
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Pros
Good training, Great scheduling, friendly staff and customers
Cons
Limited growth, occasional crazy customers
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Would Not Reccomend
Customer Service Associate (Former Employee) –  Brandon, FlNovember 4, 2015
I worked for the Covelli Panera for 9 months. I was always on time and in uniform, respected authority, did my job, did other people's jobs, etc.
I had asked for a raise after 7 months, my manager reviewed my performance and commended me on my great work ethic. However, I was never given a raise.
I went through some personal things in my life and ended up getting a tattoo on my wrist. From day one I kept it covered with a bandage. They ended up telling me that i could not wear the bandage the way I did (wrapped around my wrist), so I changed it ASAP. Later they told me that i would have to wear long sleeves ( I worked register so I had the option to do so), that night I used my last amount of cash to buy a long sleeve shirt. Even though I had kept it covered, followed all of their rules, been one of their best employees, etc. They cut my hours to maybe 30 hours every two weeks. At $8.05 an hour I could not live off of that.
I also had a problem with a manager who has since resigned. I had to take a day off and followed policy to try and get it covered. (I asked all of my co workers 4 and 3 days before hand, then 2 days before the day in particular i let my management know that I could not find a coworker to cover my shift, that i would not be able to cover the first half of my shift but would come in for the last half.)(company policy was to call in 4 hours before my shift if i could not come in, again i tried for 4 days before my shift to get it covered and told my managers 2 days in advance). The day I could not come to work the manager called me asking where i was, I had
  more... reminded her of where I was and that I had told her. She then began to say I never told her anything, then changed it to that i took down a list of names and numbers and then they had never heard from me since. The other Manager that I had told also started to make up stories. Because of their poor memories I got written up for not showing up for work and was not even allowed to come in for the part of the shift I was able to.
Because of this and how i was treated so poorly after getting a small tattoo (THAT I ALWAYS HAD COVERED) (It is a nice professional small tattoo on my left wrist that says in very nice script "Home" ) I resigned from the company.
The worst part of it all, aside from the lady from Corporate who just always had something nasty to say to me every time she came in, was the co workers. I had assumed that after I left high school the bullying, isolating, and gossiping would have stopped. I was proven wrong from day one of working for this company. Even the managers gossiped about employees.
You would think that adults in their mid 20's to early 30's would be more mature than an 18 year old girl.

In conclusion, Panera bread is the worst company anyone I know has ever worked for (that is really saying something). Please do not work for them, they are liars and will string you along until you are able to quit.

Ps, they falsely advertise that they are all organic and healthy. They keep their pastas and soups in plastic bags that contain the chemical BPA. They keep them in these bags in boiling hot water all day. Then they microwave the pasta in the bag before serving it to you. BPA is a chemical found in many plastics that has been scientifically proven to cause Autism, Cancers, Infertility in women, and so so much more. They also use rotten bananas in their smoothies when they are too lazy to send someone to the store and buy some more. (They have the means and the money, they just wont because they think it is wasting product and will use them for days.)
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Pros
Discount on food under $12 per one employee
Cons
Co-Workers, Corporate Managment
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Fast-paced - love/hate job
Cashier/Barista (Current Employee) –  Wichita, KSJanuary 20, 2013
Compensation/Benefits - I started at $8 when min. wage is $7.25 without any job experience. I was called five minutes after inputting my online information and had an 'interview' the next day where I was immediately hired. 30 min. before/after a shift or on break we get 70% off food but only 20% off duty.

Culture/Values - Everything is baked fresh overnight so at the end of the shift we give leftovers away to charity. Most of the managers
are cut-throat though, and honestly easily stressed/frustrated/angry.
Two that we have are amazing while the other two are wildly inappropriate (rude, out of line, control freaks, etc) and love to fire people. This is frustrating as it is supposed to be a relaxed, kind, and comfortable atmosphere.

Job Security/Advancement - Like I said, some hop on the chance to fire employees they do not care for. When you R/O, managers do not communicate and will be quick to pass blame onto employees - sometimes causing undeserved write-ups that can get you fired.
Advancement does not depend on how well you do but on how well you kiss up or make the managers laugh or cover their mistakes for them. I've tried very hard to show my abilities and hard work and have never been rewarded (many I work with refuse to do their full jobs, so I stand out). They are supposed to review you every 90 days with the possibility of a pay raise, yet I have worked here six months and have had no such thing.

Management: Like I mentioned, management is hit and miss.
I really enjoy my managers who help close, talk to you personally, and communicate calmly and are straight-forward.
  more... Most managers, however, enjoy micro-managing which I cannot stand. It is very difficult to respect managers who have a temper like a child, yell frequently, fire on the spot without valid reasoning, and talk bad about the other managers (yes, I have had this happen).
I recently got very sick and had to go to the ER for an IV and for testing. After calling in two days sick I was scolded so I took in my forms from the ER to come back to work (afraid I would be fired if I didn't) weak and sore. Immediately upon my arrival one of my managers began yelling at me for being there and explained that she would blame me if she got sick. Hello! You work at a restaurant.
With that many people coming in and out it will not be my fault if you get sick. Managers are frustrated and insensible and will not treat you with respect or listen to you as a peer, period. They are definitely on a pedestal and claim to not make mistakes. And the general manager does not take control (she's the one who was talking badly about another manager).

Work/Life Balance - Managers will work around a schedule but will be angry if you cannot come in for a shift when they call and ask you to fill it (a shift that was not yours to begin with). Also, do not be surprised if you get phone calls during times you wrote you were unavailable. If you speak with a manager directly about needing time off, it is not set in stone and there is a good chance it will backfire on you. Be careful!
Managers are very picky about when to pick up checks and will tell you to check the employee handbook about rules when they do not follow the rules in the book -- horrible communication when it comes to your personal life!

I get horrible anxiety to go to work and feel like I'm always having to watch my back.
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Pros
above minimum wage, good discount while working, employees of similar (young) age
Cons
hectic, disrespectful managers, micromanagement, no desire to stay there
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A bread shop with a twist.
Team Member Associate (Former Employee) –  Sacramento, CAMay 27, 2013
Panera Bread is a nice company they have good food and usually the people that come to buy the food are nice and wonderful people too.

A normal day at work for me would to get there and put my stuff up and then go clock in and then go and ask my supervisor is I could finally be on the cash register that day (I keep being given the run around about it) so I go about my normal routine; which is to bus tables and talk to the customers for a few moments to see if they were happy with our service and if everything they ordered was right. If it wasn't I would go and get whatever it was that was missing from their order and bring it to them. If their order was fine and they were fine I would say my goodbyes and get back to clearing tables or changing out the coffee hourly and also taking any stray dishes to the back of the house to have them be cleaned etc. and that would be routine till my shift was over for the day.

An evening shift would consist of the same events. Plus I would always be put on bathroom cleaning (both male and female bathrooms), dining room cleaning, and mopping the floors at the same time by myself with no help. Our store would close at 9 and that would give us an hour to clean everything but since I was put on three jobs with no help it would take me about two hours or at least an hour and thirty minutes. I would try to make sure everything was cleaned. mind you while I was doing all of this, some of my coworkers would have already been done with their one task of sweeping up breadcrumbs from underneath the racks behind the registers or cleaning the dishes or
  more... even cleaning the stations, and would stand and watch me do my tasks, and would become impatient with me because they wanted to leave.

I learned quite a bit from there, how to be quick and fast and make sure that nothing is left unchecked. I put 100% into my job in everything I did.

When I was first hired to Panera I had a wonderful manager he understood and he would do standard procedures the right way when both cleaning or food preps. but then he left and I got a new manager and she did not do things the right way; she cut corners. (And in my opinion I think she favored other coworkers over others and would give the hours to those she favored more instead of giving out hours equally)
So towards the end the management got bad.
Some of my coworkers were nice. I learned how to do most of what I could do from the few that would take the time to teach me.

The hardest part of the job was just trying not to stress out about everything. It would frustrate me that I had no help but was expected to finish three tasks within one hour. And also it would be frustrating when everyone would just sit/stand there while I tried to finish up as fast as I can. When I first started working at Panera I would ask for help from my coworkers sometimes. But as time went on, I stopped asking because most of the time no one would want to help.

The most enjoyable part of work was the customers. They were kind and wonderful and would tell me I was doing a great job. That kept me going whenever I was having a stressful day on the job.
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Pros
good food, employee discounts, good patrons.
Cons
bad managers, bad suporvisors, bad teamwork.
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As a former employee, I feel bad for anyone that works for this company.
Associate (Former Employee) –  Hanover, MANovember 6, 2014
I admit, I'm not always the timeliest, or the most polite, and I can't always help but show when I get overwhelmed. I'm a human. My problem with this company is you're trained to be a robot of "the system". My issue is, no, the customer is NOT always right. If you're confronted and being screamed at by a customer because their soup wasn't piping hot, you had to sit there and take it. I learned a lot about dealing with a fast paced work environment, and how to handle your emotions, and handle mostly unpleasant customers, which is great...

Honestly I have nothing good to say about working for this company and I can't even pretend that I do. After being there around a year and a half, it affected my personal mental health. It was constant chaos, management had NO control over how to keep their employees happy, and from what I've read on reviews, they can't keep their customers happy either. My general manager was not big into getting their hands dirty, and until a couple months before I walked out on my shift, never once helped us out when our times got unbearable, and half of the management hated their jobs and took it out on employees.
Five months into working for this company, one of my managers mentioned in front of my coworkers that she thought I was "dropped on my head as a baby", and nothing was ever done about the situation aside from a formal apology. I dealt with someone that was so far from a team player that myself, and my coworkers were all sure they hated all of us, and one that couldn't seem to control their tempter... For example this particular manager had screamed
  more... at me a couple of times simply for asking them a question during a stressful dinner rush, bringing me to tears.
My coworkers were all wonderful, but mostly freshman in highschool, and this was their first job.

The company has amazing ideas, and mostly healthy food, and an okay following. My problem is that near the end of my days there, nobody was pulling their weight anymore, and management did absolutely nothing to rectify the problem. From what I understand my store is not the only one experiencing these issues, leading to multiple workers walking out mid-shift, and workers finishing a day, and then just never showing up again.

On one other note, I asked for about five months if I could pick up a day shift here and there, or maybe move to days instead of all nights and weekends, and it never happened. I spent the entire time I worked there working from 4 pm, to a scheduled 10 pm that turned into sometimes 12-1 am on weeknights and every single weekend because of the aforementioned issues. It was exhausting and stressful.

There was nothing enjoyable about this job except for the occasional decent customer.

Extremely unprofessional.
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Pros
65% discount on product, smoke breaks.
Cons
very hard to get full time, poor management, half-assed work, not flexible at all with hours, typical "fast food" work ethics.
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Okay, but management needs more professionalism
Associate Trainer (Former Employee) –  Gainesville, FLMay 26, 2014
It was okay. My biggest issue was the management and how they didn't seem to look at my time off requests half the time.

My manager (who has since been replaced or transferred it seems) flitted between being the nicest person and flipping her lid over the smallest thing. One day you were her best associate, the next you were reminded of all the bad things you had done. She was overheard several times talking smack about both me and another "stupid little redneck girl". When I got a bit upset at another associate for not making customers' coffee drinks (which was their job and customers had complained to me about this a dozen times), I was taken aside and told I had an "attitude problem" and that "several customers" had made complaints about me. These were incidents that she had either never mentioned before or I had explained why they turned out that way, so holding them against me all the sudden made little sense and was a rather bad management tactic.

These are such incidents as me telling a group of guys that they could not use the water cups for soda, who then reacted by calling me a a three letter word referring to my sexuality. Another such incident was me misinterpreting a coffee drink order from a secret shopper. You would think this made me an incompetent employee hearing this from them, but contrary to that she promoted me to an associate trainer within a few months and praised my customer service skills. Huh? Most people would consider this a toxic relationship and it certainly felt like it much of the time.

Add to that, the catering manager was constantly complaining
  more... about a certain political party and how they were supposedly sinking the nation. Not very professional, especially in front of customers. It really makes no difference which party it was, because I'd say the same either way. Like the store manager, she also had the tendency to like you one minute and berate you at the flip of a dime the next. Neither of them ever apologized for their irrational outbursts and simply acted like we were still on good terms the next day. The night manager made some rather offensive remarks about Muslim customers one time and didn't seem to understand why I was offended until I informed someone higher up. The management has hopefully been overhauled since then, but you know what they say about first impressions.

They seemed to not be able to process time off requests a good fraction of the time. It didn't make much sense. I eventually had to leave because of this but had another part time job at the time thankfully.

Your lunches are comped half off, which was nice.

All in all, it was an okay experience mostly marred by the management staff not knowing how to interact with people in a healthy way.
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Pros
half off lunches, some nice coworkers
Cons
bipolar/politically charged managers, time off requests not seen half the time
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A little too fast-paced.
Overnight Baker (Former Employee) –  Tulsa, OKSeptember 13, 2014
Your typical day as an overnight baker at Panera will have you showing up an hour before the end of regular business hours, pulling dough out of walk in refrigerators to sit before baking, baking, receiving the next night's shipment of dough and other foods, baking, pulling more dough, baking, making pastries, baking, cleaning, baking, scoring bread, baking, more cleaning, last minute baking, and then cleaning again.

It is a lot more work than I anticipated. I was fully aware of the fact that I would be expected to be there overnight by myself (except for during training), and I would be expected to stay until the entire next day's product was baked off. The way this ended up was that instead of working 8pm - 6am four nights a week as per my schedule, I would work 8pm - 730am most nights during training. Now, granted, this was during training. I wouldn't expect to be as fast as I needed to be yet. However, just as I was starting out, we were introducing the new flat breads and mini-cakes, among a couple other things. This increased amount of product challenged even the trainer, who was an almost 20 year veteran of the overnight baking profession. The 6-8 weeks of training that is offered is maybe just barely enough for the most astute, and most likely overwhelming for the rest of us.

Management was there, but more or less negligent of what the overnight bakers did. We told them if we were short product, or if we used more than we were supposed to, but management only really cared that everything was baked off on time in the right amount. Not too hands on, not too involved.
  more...

The enjoyment of learning something new wore off pretty quickly as the stress of trying to get everything baked and trying to work out a solid order to the baking process set in. Before I left because of issues I was having dealing with working hours, the night consisted of me running back and forth in the back of the restaurant, stressing over the time while trying to manage 3 or 4 different sets of product at once. It was not at all enjoyable by the 3rd or 4th week, and the amount of stress made me dread going in at night, and miserable while I was there. Had it not been for the conflict I had with the working hours, I most likely would have stuck in there, hoping that sooner or later I would become faster and experience less stress. However, the trainer (the one that had worked as an overnight baker for almost 20 years) informed me early on that every night is as stressful as what I had experienced, and watching her I could tell that she didn't enjoy the job any more than I did.

While the work is relatively unskilled (you don't make any of the dough yourself, you assemble product from dough and other ingredients supplied to you), the work load is a bit too much for 1 person to handle, especially with the addition of new products.
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Pros
autonomy
Cons
overnight hours, disengaged management, very heavy workload
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Friendly Staff, great first job, decent training (sometimes)
Hourly Associate/Trainer November (Former Employee) –  Bothell, WAJuly 3, 2014
I started off as an hourly associate and was to become the main prep cook combined with dishwashing afterwords. The first shift everyone takes is a dining room shift, you serve people their food, bus their tables for them, and hourly keep rotating four batches of hot coffee. Then I was asked after becoming a handy prepper to choose between cooking on the line or cashier, i chose cooking first
became a trainer and was learning how to cashier before I left.
A typical day in Prep/Dishwasher- Calculate the amount of food on the bars, how much back up you have in the walk in, and then based on the par you figure out how much produce you will have to prepare. You then have to put the fresh stock of produce away in the walk-in; this had to be done in a "First In First Out" style so organization was key. Next you'd begin the days work based off your count from earlier. Take your 30 minute break and wash dishes for almost the rest of your shift until the end when you move frozen meat into the walk in to thaw overnight.
I learned quite a few things, it was my first job and I felt welcome and Panera helped me find more confidence in myself. I not so much learned but I picked up a better work ethic which I find just as important. Also I improved my customer service skills, as well as how to handle employees. I felt honored they moved me up so quickly but I had put the work into it, nonetheless it was nice to feel they saw what I put into their business.
Got along with my managers very well. They were fair, never expected too much, and one thing I liked was they prefered for you to act on
  more... your own make a mistake as long as it's not too costly. If you learned from your mistake that is what mattered.
My co-workers were mostly great, a wide variety of different characters walking in and out but I still talk to some today.
The hardest part of Panera for me just being my first job I felt a little pressured to succeed but that could have been more my own pressure than Panera's. It really wasn't that difficult, I didn't always love being the guy they called when the more lazy or unreliable folk called out. And the pay wasn't very good, $9.50 per hour to start in prep or cashier. $10.50 for being a line cook and not great raises.
The most enjoyable part for me were the people I worked with, I had a great crowd of people around me who could stay focused and finish their jobs while still talking and getting along with one another. Another thing I will say again was that they notice when someone puts in consistent hard work, I moved up to being a trainer in under six months.
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Pros
discounted lunch, friendly atmosphere
Cons
close to minimum wage, management can be unreliable sometimes
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Decent entry-level job, but not recommended for long term
Associate (Trainer) (Current Employee) –  Central Coast, CAJune 26, 2015
I have worked at Panera Bread for over a year now. Beforehand, I didn't have a ton of luck when it came to employment, so I do appreciate the fact that they gave me a chance. I do think that I've grown a lot as a person finally having secure employment. I'm not the fastest/most perfect/etc employee in the world but I do try to put in a lot of effort in my work and it has paid off; I'm well liked by the management.

People are hired as general associates, not as employees at a specific duty. Panera doesn't hire cashiers, dishwashers, etc.. The associates are required to learn all the positions. This can be nice in certain situations (call-out, extra busy day, etc) but many employees seemed to have a hard time grasping that concept.

The good side: Panera is usually open-minded when it comes to employees. They allow me to have a beard, which many restaurants don't allow. Many (I'm tempted to say most) of the employees have tattoos (you do have to cover them up, though). Panera also likes to do in-house promotion: many of my managers/supervisors started from the bottom. I could get promoted to supervisor if I really wanted it (I'm not interested). The food is healthy and delicious and employees get 65% discount. Panera has also been extremely flexible around my wacky school schedules and I can still get good hours.

I do have to say, though, there is a huge bad side. Many of the employees are not dependable at all and my store in particular has a HUGE issue with call-outs. The management can be quite inept, as they've never been able to control the problem and the people
  more... who call out regularly never get in trouble (as someone who almost never calls out that irritates me). This also forces me and the other dependable people to pick up the slack (we already get worked a lot as is). There is blatant favoritism that can occur with some of the managers, who can get buddy-buddy (and sometimes party with) some of the associates, even if those associates have lousy work ethics. My store also seems to attract a lot of rude and unreasonable customers, more so than other places I've worked at. Shortcuts are regularly taken.

Some of the problems I've lined out might not happen at other stores, although I've worked at two of them and they have similar problems. Many of the employess and managers are great, but there are way too many rotten apples in my store. If you're a teenager looking for a first job, Panera is not a bad choice (sooo much better than McDonalds, etc). You will, however, have to learn to deal with a lot of BS.
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Pros
employee discount, flexible, open-minded, opportunity to rise
Cons
lousy management, undependable coworkers, stressful, mediocre pay
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Productive and fun place to work with great people that care about the customers and what they are doing.
Hourly Employee (Current Employee) –  Lakeland, FLJanuary 2, 2015
A typical day at work starts with clocking in and getting a cash drawer. After if have my register I clean the front of the restaurant along with taking orders as customers walk in. Panera's goal is to please every customer that comes in and make sure everything is as accurate as possible. I greet the customers and then take their orders (answering any questions they may have and giving suggestions if needed). Once their order is taken I go back to cleaning. If ordered, I walk over to basrista line and make them their smoothie, coffee... ect. When we close I prepare the store for the openers in the morning and I bag up all the left over bread, bagels, and pastries for donations that night. Once everything is clean and ready for the openers the manager looks over my area making sure that everything is correct and sends me home.
I have learned that there is always a way to make things better, and when things go wrong to stay calm and responsive. Sometimes there are difficult orders and difficult people to attend to but I stay positive and helpful... because getting upset and angry along with them gets you no where and makes the situation worse rather than solving it.
Most of the management at this store was good except for one specific manager. He did not do his job. He sat in the lobby and played on his phone or talked with friends that would come in and see him. He would sit in the office and talk to his wife or text or play games. He got the schedule out and ready for people two days late. He did not communicate well with any of his employees and all around genuinely didn't
  more... care about his job.
The hardest part of the job would have half to be the people who came in and were very rude and nasty. Sometimes people came in and were just having a bad day and took it out on the cashiers. Well, this is apart of what I learned. I learned that you are going to have to deal with difficult, rude, and nasty people in life. But because I learned that I (in my own opinion) am very good with difficult people now in the sense that I can stay calm, act nice, and try to be a good part of their day instead of a bad part.
The easiest part was closing. During closing time the hour before we closed the store would be really quiet. No one really came in so it allowed for you to get all the things that needed to be done right then and there and once you bagged up donations you were out of there for the night.
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Pros
65%, great people to work with, flexible with hours.
Cons
no benefits for part timers, bad communication between employees and management
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Baker
Baker (Former Employee) –  Torrance, CAOctober 31, 2013
I worked at this company for 3 years at 2 different franchises and can honestly say that I loved the work (all the food that was assembled, shaped, mixed and composed to be baked and served) and the job itself and everything about being a solo baker (even the graveyard shift hours where difficult, I still loved it). BUT the people, politics and atmosphere of every Panera I have every baked for is always the same in the sense that management and co workers where not friendly, considerate, understanding or generous at all. Absolutely no sense of what it means to be a team or a family. That was always the hardest thing. In working for this company I did truly learn what it means to bake for very large amounts of people either alone or with only one or two other accomplices, and that was very refreshing. I appreciated the challenge and the constant yet steady work load. Unfortunately, they do not give benefits for the Marina Del Rey, Torrance, Carson, Westchester and Santa Monica locations and you never get time to take a break because of the big workload. As I said before, I did not mind the workload and got everything done in a timely fashion but I did find it to be more then unsettling that myself and others were severely punished when we did not have time to take our 30min breaks; they didn't allow us more then a couple hours overtime, even for large catering orders requiring more high volume baking for each pay period (which consisted of 2 weeks). The hardest thing in the job was definitely the equipment breaking often remaining in that state for extended amounts of time injuring  more... us bakers on several occasions because of the lack of proper professional technical maintenance that the company and owners/management should be taking care of. The best part of this job was definitely that you get a lot of freedom as you work to play any music you like and work how you like just so long as your product is up to company standards every bake. Working here has definitely taught me to be stronger, more patient and to not care about what dramatic trivial fictitiousness are being said to me or about me but to just focus on my job itself and do what's right ethically and by the company and myself. I am so very grateful for this experience in many ways for teaching me to be tougher and more assertive yet more understanding.  less
Pros
playing music of your choice while in charge of your own bake, free/discounted food up to 20$.
Cons
no breaks (or time for them), not enough ovetime, no benifits, faulty equipment or lack of service/maintenance of them, selfish coworkers and management
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Incompetence and inefficiency abound
Associate (Current Employee) –  Webster, TXJanuary 19, 2015
To start off a typical day, I walk in and hopefully don't get yelled at for another employee's mistake or absence. Most employees, especially managers, are indifferent and openly hostile toward their coworkers. Food safety, such as with nut allergens, is completely disregarded. There are no portion tools for tree nuts on one of the salad lines on a daily basis; this is a severe health hazard, as cross contamination can kill and is regularly overlooked by both staff and management, if not every day, then every other day. Schedules are printed no earlier than 8pm every Sunday night, before the next work week's schedule starts at 5am every Monday. Yes, you read that correctly. You MIGHT have 8 hours in advance to plan the rest of your week around work. This is obviously a severe impairment for many employees, especially those with young children...we have a lot of those. Some have left because of this. Availability sheets are a lot like the rules on Who's Line is it Anyways: they're made up and don't matter. The only time my availability sheet was abided by was when I got into an argument with my General Manager about it. Having made her look foolish, she tried to pin the blame on me in front of the other staff. Managers constantly escalate what should be routine conversations into arguments in front of other staff members and guests. Managers will frequently put customers on hold in the hope that they will just hang up. We consistently run out of everything (literally EVERYTHING) due to our Kitchen Manager and General Manager demonstrating an utter inability to communicate basic  more... needs to our vendors or each other in a timely manner. The company's labor cost targets are only attainable in a fictional environment. Our labor cost models assume minimum wage is still $5.15 an hour and hasn't been updated since the late 2000s. This results in tenure employees being paid $9.50 an hour, and not a penny more. I have personally been there 9 months WITHOUT A RAISE, though I take on more responsibilities on a DAILY basis. Additionally, many members of the management team have had their performance reviews pushed back INDEFINITELY to help stave off a raise. All the while, the franchisees drive COMPANY-OWNED MASERATIS. While they "cannot afford" to effectively staff their establishments and provide their employees with basic benefits.  less
Pros
50% discount on all in-store items, coworkers were like a dysfunctional family
Cons
all the above listed
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Socially Uncomfortable
Sales Associate (Current Employee) –  Shiloh, ILNovember 13, 2015
My managers as Panera appreciate the level of effort that I put out whilst I am on the clock. When my time starts, I am going constantly. It makes me feel very good to do my job well. The customers are my favorite part about working at Panera. You get the chance to really connect with them. I've become so close with some customers that they've already let me know that they will be bringing me a christmas card! haha.
Now... what makes me so uncomfortable about working here? My coworkers. They are all around my age and they all seem to be in a clique. They hang out outside of work together. I am very quiet and shy. Their outgoing personalities over whelm me often times. I like to focus on my work and not goof off.. I think that my coworkers may think that I am a snob or something. This is not the case! I do make a point to say hi to a few of them every shift but they ignore me. A select few of them go out of their way to embarrass me? They've tried ripping me apart in arguments about my veganism? They have ganged up on me on other things too. This is only a few of them that really are mean to me. But they all seem to gossip about each other. I would assume that when my back is turned they do the same... I've heard it once through a door before... This is all very childish and unsettling for me. It makes it so that I resent coming to work. Telling my managers would make the situation worse.... My coworkers seem to be angry people and wouldn't handle a confrontation well from a manager.
This job does not pay well enough, or give me enough hours so that I am able to support myself
  more... anyway. I've often been shorted on hours. upon hire I was promised 25+ hours a week. They'd sometimes give me as little as 10 hours. they have never given me over 24 hours ever like they had promised. I have asked my managers if i preform poorly, because that can be a common reason behind getting hours cut... but that is never the case. They praise me and then they will tell me that they were on vacation so things were just a little bit messed up this time or something... that is common. A single parent couldn't rely on this job for a reliable number of hours or a set schedule. I've had to work 10 hour long shifts with only one 30 minute break to cut it. I believe that this is my call to leave.

I am sure that other Panera Bread's are not this way. Unfortunately mine was. Maybe a more outgoing person would do better here.
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Pros
decent discount, good company
Cons
Short Breaks
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They expect you to pick up on things RIGHT AWAY
Employee (Current Employee) –  USASeptember 30, 2012
I come to work on time everyday and pray i'm working something i like to do. I have learned from working at Panera Bread that people don't care about you like at all you want something you have to get it on your own! They don't care if you're the youngest worker you just have to suck it up. Managers can be difficult they all say different things and you're never sure who to believe (usually you listen to your GM though.) Oh and managers are so high up they forget about us little people and expect us to know everything they know so be ready to get yelled at for every little thing you ever do wrong even if you're still training. I know most of my coworkers from highschool they're older than me so it's like having an older sibiling around i guess but really nice and helpful but some people tend to talk about others behind their backs and i don't really like that so i try to walk away from any of that. The hardest part of my job well i'm new so EVERYTHING as of right now i have no idea how to work the line because they never taught me and they throw me on register with 3 days training and expect me to pickup EVERYTHING abreveations and what not and how things work yeah 3rd day on register today was a disastor my manager was so rude to me! i'm not gonna say what they said but its something managers shouldn't say to employees let alone a human being.......the best is when people ask me whats in things like DO I LOOK LIKE MISS PANERA BREAD? HECK NO! Most of my coworkers have been working there since it opened so they know where and how things work while i'm just like what?i think they  more... all think i'm stupid. I tend to get anxious and nervous like i have to be perfect with things so iguess that messes me up a lot. Miss perfections right here. I'm also not at all very fast yet so i get yelled at for that too...but i work hard and try to improve.They make us take out the trash at night...Um yeah it's easy as heck to rob the place so i personally think they should take the trash out in the morning. I'd say i like 1 & 1/2 of my 4 managers as of right now. They just make me wanna crawl under a rock after every single shift. The only thing i really ever enjoy is getting paid Panera bread was my first pay check so theres something to be proud of.  less
Pros
50% for any panera for your meal/ flexible shedule
Cons
rude customers, managers, being thrown on things you don't know how to do.
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You never know what you're going to get.
Line Chef (Former Employee) –  Seven Hills, OHOctober 26, 2015
My responsibilities were providing a sanitized, organized and safe work area, under OSHA regulation. My job was to make food quickly but in a presentable fashion. In addition to making and prepping food, other days my assignments included cleaning and stocking the dining room, as well as the bathroom. There areas also needed to be sanitized and made satisfactory for customer use. At Panera, I was also a dishwasher. Aside from washing dishes, this job left me in charge of organizing and keeping the “back-of-house” clean and free of hazards and prepared for the following shift to use right away.

I learned about the importance of food safety at Panera Bread. I didn't know much about it prior to working there. However, once you learn in depth about food safety, it sticks with you for the most part.

You never know what you're going to get when it comes to management. They like to transfer managers and you can go from having the epitome of a great boss to the worst boss you can imagine. That is exactly what happened to me.

Your coworkers always vary depending on the store, no matter where you work. My coworkers didn't really care about the job. They were there to make their paycheck and they made sure everyone knew it. Some were really hardworking, others wanted to be great, but weren't trained properly and others could not have cared less about the job.

The hardest part of the job was getting everyone to work together. What people didn't realize was that you don't go home until the store is perfect for opening shift. If that means you stay until midnight when you were
  more... scheduled until ten, that means you stay until midnight. Even with this in mind, employees (and even some managers) would still procrastinate, act in a discouraging (even if it meant being straight up rude) ways, waste time and attempt shortcuts.

The most enjoyable part of the job was when everyone on your crew happened to fit the description of a "dream team." When your shift happens to be the one with the hardest workers on it, it goes so smoothly. Teamwork is the key when it comes to a fast paced work environment and when your crew has a team mentality, your coworkers become your best friends.
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Pros
50% lunches, 30 minute lunches
Cons
Environment varies by location, not as flexible as other companies.
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Horrible place to work, unqualified management, unprofessional
Overnight Baker (Current Employee) –  Savannah, GADecember 3, 2014
This has to be the worst job I've ever had. My two managers, the trainer and his boss, are roommates, so if there is a problem or complaint about one or the other nothing gets done about it and the same issues continue to occur. My two managers also like to talk about female coworkers and employees and brag about either taking them home, trying to take them home, or just flat out lie about sleeping with them, this also includes the teenage day shift girls as well. There is a no fraternization policy at Panera but my two managers have asked me out for drinks on multiple occasions as well as a couple of my associates. Management is so unprofessional that the bakery manager will call the newer bakers instead of the lead baker because he doesn't want to talk to her. Training is minimal, a few guys have literally had 1 day of training and was sent to a new store with 3 times the usual bake. Also if the bakery manager makes a mistake on the schedule, or anything for that matter, he will blame it on an employee instead of fixing it or admitting to it. A few times bakers have been left alone overnight because no one else was on the schedule and the bakery manager decided to "stay out and drink" instead of coming in to help even though he knew the situation. The bakery manager has cursed out two of my associates, constantly says he doesn't need us and neither does Panera causing more than 6 associates to quit within the short amount of time I've been here. From my understanding this has been going on for years now, about three, because everyone decides to quit instead of speak up, I  more... mean why would they, a few have and nothing at all was done to fix the situation. I do plan to speak to my district supervisor before I too quit. All in all the job is not hard, it can be tiring when you are scheduled to work 6,7,8, or 9 days in a row and the pay definitely does not reflect the work. During the interview raises were promised after 90 days and of course they were not given. On the application incentives were promised such as dental, health, and vacations which also turns out to not be true. The best and only enjoyable part about the job are the other associates.  less
Pros
my associates are nice
Cons
horrible bosses, no raises, unprofessional place of work
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A day at Panera Bread
Manager/Food Quality and Cost Control (Current Employee) –  Moorestown, NJDecember 31, 2012
On opening, we arrive at five a.m and begin set-up for the cafe. We run all reports including labor, prep charts, food cost, bakery opportunities and daily and weekly trends. We review any notes left from the night before on the bake and closing. We follow a point inspection of the cafe to make sure all duties were followed through and completed, cleanliness and proper sanitation is checked thoroughly. We post deployment charts which let our associates know what position they will be working. The safe is counted and tills put into drawers to await associates to count and assign themselves. The opening manager runs all zones until the next manager arrives. There are three zones to be lead, bakery, line and floor. When the mid-manager arrives, zone temperatures are logged and all food is checked while being prepped. Sales and labor reports are run and reported hourly and associates are cut or added to business's needs. On specific days, product ordering is assigned by the Food Quality Manager which is myself. We normally order anywhere between $9,000- $12,000 in product to be used within 3-5 days. We use forecasting notes to decide on how business will determine our ordering. Inventory is performed every Sunday also by the Food Quality Manager and all growth and loss is reported and followed up on and then a P.O.A (plan of action) is put together to figure out how to stop product loss. The closing manager counts tills and safe where growths and losses are reported, closes each zone to make sure all areas are properly cleaned and sanitized, nightly food count of meat, soups and  more... pasta is recorded and compared to sales. Labor is tracked and input into the system and all associates are checked to make sure no one had remained punched in and labor is then compared to sales. A summary of the close is then typed and emailed along with all reports to the District Manager. A last walk through the building is done and then any new issues are brought to the bakers attention and then the doors are locked.  less
Pros
family work environment, manager meals, hands on environment, some flexibility in schedule, training, open door policy
Cons
salary, scheduling, consistency, bonus plan, benefits, advancement.
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Fast-paced environment with high stressor situations, made enjoyable by wonderful coworkers and customers.
Associate Trainer (Former Employee) –  Crestview Hills, KYFebruary 26, 2013
There are different positions throughout every cafe, so on a typical day an associate clocks in, finds out what position they are in, and begin whatever task that entails. By position I mean: cashier, diningroom, line, dishwasher, prep, or whatever else. When each position fulfills their duties, things run fairly seamlessly. Before an associate leaves, they set up their station for the person coming in after them and perform their cleaning duties.

By the time I left, the four managers that I started with were no longer at the store where I worked. The turnover rate of Panera employees seems to be very high. I've always gotten along with all the managers that came through the store, though the ones that were there before I left were a little more intense than the ones I started with. I attribute this to the high pressure of the job and the increased standard that the store was trying to measure up to.

My coworkers were what made the job enjoyable everyday. Sometimes things would get stressful and we would get swamped with work, but they were what kept me going and upbeat.

The hardest part about the job would have to be where we were located. Not only is the store in a high traffic area (it is the busiest store in the entire franchise), but it is also in a very posh neighborhood. I enjoyed helping our customers and even had a few regulars that I adored, but frequently there were customers who were less than kind and had large senses of entitlement. When this was the case, nothing my coworkers and I did would be good enough to appease them, which is saying a lot because employees
  more... are given full-reign to do whatever it takes to make a customer happy.

The most enjoyable part of my job was doing what needed to be done, to the best of my ability, and getting told by a customer how impressed they were. I gave my all with everything I did, so when my effort was appreciated, it felt nice. I enjoyed making the customers happy by doing my job well.
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Pros
discount, nice ambiance, good people
Cons
unpleaseable customers, unfair managers (not all of them and not all the time, though)
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Difficult, Unorganized, Inconsistent
Production Line Associate (Current Employee) –  Allentown, PAFebruary 10, 2015
While staying at Panera my experience with the team/employees there was the best part of the job. Unfortunately for this employer I found the cons outweighed the pros. To start off I found the managers inconsistent and unorganized. There was no overall respect for guidelines of Panera, simply because there are so many guidelines without provided answers of why they are set. One manager would be okay with something while another manager would not be okay with it. There was such an inconsistency, you rarely ever knew if you were doing anything right. This job also has one employee taking on the stress of about 3. They are constantly understaffed and when they are properly staffed they complain about how bad their Labor is. For a Job paying minimum wage there was way too much stress included in a simple workday.
I was told from my starting interview that breaks may not be provided if it was a very busy day, however, I was not under the impression that I would see fellow employees go 10 hour shifts without a break.
With that said I would also like to bring up the fact that 10-12hr shifts would be scheduled to a person and only a 30 minute break would be provided, where-as most other workplaces provide a 30 minute break and a 15 minute break simply for an 8hr shift.
My opinion of the worst thing that employees had to deal with was having to find coverage for our own shifts when we were sick. The managers apparently have no trust in their employees so when we would attempt to call in sick, whether it was a fever, the flu, etc, we were told we would have to find coverage. Personally
  more... I don't see it as My responsibility to find coverage if i have a high fever and can barely get out of bed. It is the managers responsibility, not matter if someone calls off or not, to make sure that their company runs smoothly and efficiently.
I feel as if This company held me back along with a lot of the other employees there. If necessary, this job is tolerable. But I would recommend against it.
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Pros
great discount on meals, fun employees
Cons
occasionally no breaks, stressful work duties, long shifts, under staff, bad management
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3.7
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