McDonald's employees share 7 things they learned from working at the fast-food giant

  • McDonald’s jobs – like all jobs – provide employees with plenty of learning opportunities.
  • McDonald’s crew members shared what they have learned from working at the restaurant chain with Business Insider.
  • The lessons ranged from treating everyone with kindness to learning to work with others.

The food at McDonald’s might be largely the same all over the world, but the experiences of its employees can vary quite a bit.

Of course, the atmosphere of each store depends a lot on the customer base, the crew, the management, and the franchise-owner. But there’s one commonality that links at McDonald’s jobs. Like all jobs, McDonald’s gigs serve as a learning experience, for better or for worse.

Business Insider spoke with several current and former crew members to find out what they learned from working at the restaurant. Former McDonald’s employees have also posted on Quora about their work experiences.

Here’s what McDonald’s crew members have learned from the job:

The job is a crash course in the basics of how a restaurant works


“McDonald’s can provide essential workforce skills and people can use this to their advantage in their next resume,” former McDonald’s crew member Sherwin Balugo wrote on Quora.

He said such skills included:

• Operating and maintaining restaurant equipment.

• Teamwork and effective communication.

• Food and kitchen safety.

• Task prioritisation.

“This can be easily overlooked, as most see McDonald’s as nothing that special, in terms of profession,” Balugo wrote.

Team work makes the dream work at McDonald’s

One former crew member who worked at the chain for five years told Business Insider that they learned about “teamwork” through their tenure at the company.

They added that they developed many friendships with their fellow crew members.

“Besides learning about the actual tasks at McDonald’s – making burgers, fries, customer service – one learns how to work together with other people,” former McDonald’s employee and Quora user Chuck Chan wrote. “This is usually not the top-tier of people who ‘want’ to be working, but usually the people who are working there as a means-to-an-end and this job might have been their last resort.”

Employees learn to ‘show no fear’ when dealing with customers


Working in the fast-food industry can be rough, sometimes. Some customers will give you a hard time.

But one crew member from Minnesota told Business Insider that they learned how to “show the customers no fear.”

The employee added that they have become adept at acting as “happy” as possible while working a shift.

McDonald’s manager Cody Zeman wrote on Quora that employees should always try as best they can to engage with customers to dispel any possible tension.

“Ask them how their day is going,” Zeman wrote. “Always smile. Always walk into work with a clean uniform. Always have an open mind.”

Being kind to others counts for something, especially in the service industry…

“I have learned how to be patient and respect people who work any kind of service job, because kindness and respect goes a long way to making people in those jobs feel good about what they are doing,” a former crew member from Virginia told Business Insider.

The former employee added that they always tip 20% nowadays, even when the service is sub-par.

“Sometimes people are having a rough day, and I don’t begrudge that anymore,” the ex-employee said. “For the people who go to McDonald’s: be nice, be patient. A little kindness goes a long way, especially when things have been rough during a shift.”

Chan also addressed how working in the fast-food business can increase one’s sympathy with restaurant employees.

“The problem with service jobs is that, many times, the customer doesn’t consider all the factors in play, and the blame usually goes to the person they interact with,” Chan wrote. “Things happen, and usually the restaurant or server will apologise, maybe compensate by giving something free, if they can, and try to maximise your eating experience, or at least try their best. It only takes a little consideration from time to time by the customer.”

… and humility is also key


“Working at McDonald’s is a very humbling experience, where one may learn and appreciate about many aspects of life,” Chan wrote on Quora. “I’ve learned to really respect and appreciate the hard work and sweat that it takes to perform those jobs, especially when you need to do it while having a bad day.”

McDonald’s is not a place where everyone can make a career

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

McDonald’s has been the target of a wave of protests over crew members’ earnings.

The organisation Fight for 15 has strived to push McDonald’s to raise its minimum wage up to $US15 an hour. Activists argue that the fast-food giant does not pay its employees a living wage.

In 2016, Richard Eiker, a longtime McDonald’s employee and Kansas City resident, told the Guardian why he participated in a number of protests against his employer.

“This movement believes that no one who works full time should rely on food stamps or public assistance – just to pay the basic bills,” he said.

“If you want to make a career out of it, you won’t be able to make a living from it, most likely,” former crew member Michael Lebert wrote on Quora.

A former crew member from Virginia told Business Insider that the low pay bolsters the popular opinion that McDonald’s jobs are low status.

“People may disagree that people who work fast food deserve a living wage, but the bottom line is, food service workers are people, not servants,” the ex-employee told Business Insider. “The amount of callous, malicious treatment of other human beings people think they can get away with just because they’re dealing with someone who works a ‘s—– job’ is unreal.”

Being able to look at the job as a learning opportunity is helpful

One McDonald’s crew member told Business Insider that they had learned to take an optimistic view of their work.

“McDonald’s isn’t always a wonderful place to work, but it is a good place to start,” a Minnesota crew member told Business Insider.

Are you a McDonald’s employee with a story to share? Email [email protected]

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