Fast Food for Thought

Stefan Stern's Business Life piece in today's Financial Times makes me shake my head. An SVP at McDonald's in Europe is circulating a petition to nix the term "McJob" from the dictionary. That senior executive, and the writer, contend that fast food restaurants are quality employers, offer progressive training programs, and support diverse teams. Stern holds up customer service training as a prime example and suggests that it's behind McDonald's 44 consecutive months of sales growths.

That's all well and good. I can understand people coming to the defense of their industry. But looking at the promise and potential — much less the practices — of an industry solely by looking at the numbers on the books (gender equity, economic growth) doesn't always show you the full story. Stern would be well served to spend some time behind the counter. So it's to his credit that he title drops Jerry Newman's new book My Secret Life on the McJob.

I've yet to read the book, but I read a review on the way to work this morning that suggested the book is worth reading for two reasons. One, it highlights some of the challenges facing fast food restaurants: low pay, poor management practices, inadequate training, and racial tensions. And two, it doesn't just dwell on the plethora of front-line experiences on which the book is drawn — Newman, a professor at SUNY-Buffalo, worked at a number of fast food joints for two years while researching the book — it spins the stories to suss out some solid leadership lessons and ideas.

Add New Comment


  • Pete Carvajal

    This is an interesting topic but I think a better subject would be how companies in the American hospitality industry are planning to maintain quality in their service staff while the cultural and language abilities continue to shift towards the Spanish language.

  • Feya

    Tomorrow, Leicester Mercury will launch the first edition of The Bradgate Park Advertiser. The free weekly newspaper will be filled with ’60 second news’ - four to five paragraph-long stories.

    The tabloid will cover grassroots news, county-wide news, showbiz, sport and motors news.

    "This means you get a very newsy, high content read,” says editor Ian Amos.

    "This is a very different approach and we do feel these areas haven't been getting the coverage they deserve.”

    "It also opens up new potential advertisers."

    The Advertiser will cover the villages of Newtown Linford, Copt Oak, Swithland, Woodhouse, Rothley, Cropston and Anstey.

    The paper will home-deliver about 7,000 copies and an extra 1,000 copies will be available at distribution points. Will the readers like an exclusively fast-news newspaper? This will be the test.

    Source: through Ifra Executive News service

  • Stefan Stern

    Thanks for the mention. In fact I did criticise McDonald's in my column today for attempting to manipulate the English language. In a sense it is none of their business what other people refer to as a McJob or not. But to be fair I wanted to acknowledge that McDonald's (in the UK at least) is far from being the worst employer in the service sector, and that some of their work (on training and career development for example) has been pretty good.
    You're right, though - I don't think I would enjoy working there!