McDonald's Should Consider Paying More

A blog about business and economics.
April 11 2013 10:51 AM

If McDonald's Wants Friendlier Service It Should Spend More on Hiring

165543785
A coalition of groups rally in front of a McDonald's on East 125th Street and Lexington Avenue in Harlem during a protest by fast food workers and supporters for higher wages April 4, 2013 in New York.

Photo by STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

I'm relatively bullish on the American economy, but I do worry that the prolonged downturn has created some odd mental blocks among American CEOs. Today, for example, the Wall Street Journal has a long story about how even though McDonald's did fairly well at the depths of the recession they're now having problems with the quality of the customer service they provide. I'm no management genius, but even I know that how much you pay people is relevant to how demanding you can be about the quality of the work they do. The Journal writes that "achieving speed and friendliness of service across the chain has been a particularly elusive goal" but it seems obvious that if you want people to work faster and better you're going to have to be willing to shell out more money.

I would just dismiss this as bad journalism, but it comes on the heels of a remarkable article about how Wal-Mart is selling lots of stuff but can't keep the shelves stocked in which "hire more people to stock the shelves" doesn't seem to be under consideration as a corporate option. Strange stuff.

But as I say, I'm bullish. Part of what you're seeing here is that the prolonged weak labor market has in some ways been a sweet ride for managers. As things bounce back, it gets tougher. You might need to add staff. And to add high-quality staff you might need to offer better wages and working conditions. It's tough out there. But someone will figure it out.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?