Worker Exodus Builds at McDonald's as Mobile App Sows Confusion


Leslie Patton, Bloomberg

13 March 2018


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


McDonald’s Corp. has been updating with new technology, delivery, a revamped menu and curbside pickup. But the chain’s “Experience of the Future” effort could backfire. Employees are 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 in an interview. “It makes it harder for the workers.”


Sure, lots of 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. Already, 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.


150 Percent Turnover


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 owner-operators, 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.”


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