Yesterday’s news that McDonalds have been granted the right to offer academic qualifications to their staff, equivalent to the likes of traditional GCSE or A-Level, has resulted in a lot of press, and public opinion.
I’m guessing that the “controversy” (as some see it) would have been non-existent if the company in question was anybody other than the fast food giant. After all… 2 other companies were granted the same status – FlyBE and Network Rail, yet their involvement has largely remained out of the “cheesy” headlines.
Look beyond the stereotypical attitude of cholesterol boosting burgers, a greasy environment and low-paid spotty students, and McDonalds is actually a business model that many other companies would do well to replicate. Especially in the area of staff training and standards.
And why do I believe this? Well -I’ve worked there. Ok – I only lasted 3 weeks, and never progressed past the McChicken Sandwich station, but in that short time, I took (and passed!) 2 exams that ensured I knew every possible fact about how to cook a chicken burger from how long to leave it on the grill, to the exact weight in grams of the lettuce that topped it. Overkill? – maybe… but how many other companies ensure their staff are trained to such details, and enforce formal examinations to prove it. In the 16 years since I worked there, I’ve personally not seen anything like it.
Don’t get me wrong…. Customer service (one of the qualifications they will be awarding) at Macca D’s is far from perfect – but in the UK in general Customer service sucks. Especially in the hospitality and service industry – we simply fall far behind customer service levels, where such jobs are often seen as a stepping stone or time-filler, where often the person serving you doesn’t give a s**t about you or the company he/she is representing – after all they don’t want to be waiting tables or serving you a Burger and fries all their life, so why spend the effort – it’s just a means to an end. Go further afield to Europe, or indeed the USA, and you’ll see the same staff with a different attitude. While the American “have a nice day now!” might feel a little condescending, in general they do tend to mean it.
At NSDesign we focus on Customer Service more than any other aspect – knowing that in our case, it’s the “people” behind the technology that makes the difference. Far too often – the people representing the company ruin an otherwise solid reputation, and I congratulate McDonalds (and indeed FlyBE and Network Rail) for striving to improve things on a company, and ultimately a national level.
Personally I welcome the idea of “on the job” qualifications, and have no problems with which companies are entitled to offer them, so long as (like McDonalds) they can prove a certain quality and commitment to ensuring the end result will be valid. With so many youngsters simply not getting enough from traditional schooling, what better place to offer a potential future than the stepping-stone job positions so many of them end up in.