McDon­ald’s up­dates have some work­ers jump­ing ship

The Columbus Dispatch - - Market Summary - By Les­lie Pat­ton

For Dud­ley Dick­er­son, the mo­bile-app or­ders were the last straw.

McDon­ald’s has been up­dat­ing with new tech­nol­ogy, de­liv­ery, a re­vamped menu and curb­side pickup. But the “Ex­pe­ri­ence of the Fu­ture” has em­ploy­ees han­dling more tasks — in many cases, they say, with­out pay raises or ad­e­quate staffing. So Dick­er­son, 23, handed over his spat­ula for the last time.

“They added a lot of com­pli­cated things,” Dick­er­son said. “It makes it harder for the work­ers.”

Many fast-food em­ploy­ees hop from job to job. But with un­em­ploy­ment so low, turnover is be­com­ing a prob­lem. Work­ers are walk­ing rather than deal­ing with new tech­nolo­gies and menu op­tions. The re­sult: Cus­tomers will wait longer. Drive-through times at McDon­ald’s slowed to 239 sec­onds last year — more than 30 sec­onds slower than in 2016, ac­cord­ing to QSR mag­a­zine. It’s also pok­ier than Burger King, Wendy’s and Taco Bell.

Turnover at U.S. fast-food restau­rants jumped to 150 per­cent — mean­ing a store employing 20 work­ers would go through 30 in one year. That fig­ure is the high­est since in­dus­try tracker Peo­ple Re­port be­gan col­lect­ing data in 1995.

“Quick-ser­vice restau­rants are hav­ing a lit­tle more trou­ble with job open­ings and find­ing work­ers,” said Michael Harms, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions at Peo­ple Re­port. “It’s the pace of work, the pace of tech­nol­ogy and the lower wage rate.”

McDon­ald’s and its fran­chisees haven’t seen an in­crease in crew turnover over the last year, nor is there a cor­re­la­tion be­tween the new ini­tia­tives and turnover, spokes­woman Terri Hickey said in an emailed state­ment.

“To­gether with our owner­op­er­a­tors, we are in­vest­ing in all nec­es­sary train­ing to en­sure suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion of any changes in our restau­rants,” she wrote. “Just as ‘Ex­pe­ri­ence of the Fu­ture’ mod­ern­izes the restau­rant ex­pe­ri­ence for our cus­tomers, there is also a fo­cus on im­prov­ing the work ex­pe­ri­ence for restau­rant em­ploy­ees.”

McDon­ald’s Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Steve Easter­brook has been push­ing ini­tia­tives that have helped turn around com­pa­ra­ble sales, which rose 3.6 per­cent last year in the U.S. But they’ve also made it tougher to re­tain restau­rant em­ploy­ees in an al­ready tight la­bor mar­ket.

“The ball is re­ally in the court of the work­ers,” Harms said. “Not the em­ploy­ers.”

Last year, McDon­ald’s said, it em­ployed 235,000 peo­ple, in­clud­ing cor­po­rate and restau­rant work­ers. Each of those peo­ple gen­er­ated $97,000 in rev­enue, com­pared to about $65,000 the year be­fore. While this could be a sign of in­creased ef­fi­ciency, it could also be seen as stretch­ing thin an in­ad­e­quate num­ber of em­ploy­ees.

In Broward County, Florida, West­ley Wil­liams said he’s mov­ing from McDon­ald’s to burger joint Check­ers be­cause of mo­bile-app or­ders, new items and six new self-or­der kiosks.

“It’s more stress­ful now,” said Wil­liams, 42, not­ing he didn’t get a raise for do­ing more work. “When we mess up a lit­tle bit be­cause we’re get­ting used to some­thing new, we get yelled at.”

On a re­cent Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, about 10 McDon­ald’s work­ers hus­tled be­hind the counter of a store in Chicago’s Loop. They called out or­der num­bers for those wait­ing for lunch — some had or­dered via an in-store kiosk, some from the mo­bile app and some the old-fash­ioned way, at the reg­is­ter.

An or­der of a Ba­con McDou­ble, small fries and an apple juice took about 2½ min­utes, faster than the av­er­age drive-through time, but the drink was miss­ing and the em­ployee seemed con­fused when asked for it.

“The big­gest risk when you have a lot of em­ployee turnover is the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Brian Yar­brough, an an­a­lyst for Ed­ward Jones. “If that starts to wane, then this turns into a big­ger prob­lem.”


McDon­ald’s CEO Steve Easter­brook demon­strates an or­der kiosk to cashier Es­mirna DeLeon. Deal­ing with new tech­nolo­gies has caused some McDon­ald’s work­ers to quit.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.