Restaurants in general, and fast-food restaurants in particular, have struggled to staff up as the economy reopens from the pandemic shutdown. McDonald’s is reportedly opening its wallet to lure workers back.
According to the Wall Street Journal, McDonald’s franchisees, who own 95% of McDonald’s restaurants, are beefing up compensation packages after surveying current employees about what they want. After looking at the results, the restaurants are not only offering higher pay, but paying for emergency child care, helping with college tuition, and providing more workplace flexibility.
McDonald’s Corporation appears to be fully behind the initiative and is reportedly pledging millions of dollars to help its franchise owners cover the cost of the expanded benefits.
The Journal cites a survey by an industry consulting group that explored the reasons former restaurant employees had not returned to work. The number one reason was the generous unemployment benefits provided under the CARES Act and other pandemic relief measures.
But nearly as many former employees said they no longer wanted to work in the industry. Others said they didn’t feel safe working in a job where they had to deal face-to-face with hundreds of consumers each day.
Fundamental changes to the job
After being pressured over the last decade to raise wages, McDonald’s appears to be doing that and more, seeing it as a necessary step to retain and grow business. According to an internal presentation prepared for the franchise owners, the aim of the initiative is to “fundamentally change what it means to work at a McDonald’s restaurant.”
That kind of effort may become standard in the industry. Labor economists say that not only are restaurant workers who were laid off during the pandemic now looking for new careers, but those who managed to work during the pandemic are quitting.
Rebecca Givan, an associate professor of labor studies and employment relations at Rutgers, told CNN that when employees start to quit "there's a feedback loop."
"These jobs are very difficult. And if restaurants are short-staffed the jobs are worse, and they're harder," she said. "And so that can perpetuate the high quit rates."