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In today’s competitive market place, where the pace of change is increasing, employers are concerned with how well their employees are equipped with skills as well as academic qualifications. We only have to read the job advertisements in the press to see such requirements such as these:

  • 'The credibility and authority to establish a rapport with highly successful and busy people'
  • 'Problem solving skills'
  • 'Clarity in thinking and articulate in expression'
  • ‘Entrepreneurial and management skills'
  • 'Strong leadership and strategic marketing skills'
  • 'Capable of working effectively as part of a team'

You have been hired by McDonalds UK to work in its Corporate HR division to draft a report with responsibility for further improving its reputation as an employer.

  1. Undertake a brief analysis for McDonalds' position in the labour market and discuss the people management implications of educating staff on interpersonal skills, time management and problem solving skills.
  2. Set out your principal recommendations as to the steps the company should now take in order to further re-brand itself positively as a good employer.
  3. What wider purposes could be served for the company if it succeeds in further turning round its image as a poor employer?

Analysis for McDonalds' position in the labour market

In this report discussion is made on aspects of McDonald’s about their situation in labour market, implications that are attained through people management by educating employees on interpersonal skills, time management and problem solving. Also recommendations are made that will help McDonald’s rebrand their poor employer image and also purposes that will be attained through this rebranding has been discussed. 

McDonald’s had been facing high criticism over poor labour conditions, wages and workloads without overpays since beginning of 2012 throughout the world as the fast food workers had claimed that McDonald’s gave their workers poor wages, hence workers mobilised various protests and campaigns across different parts of world to demand that McDonald’s offer better pays and working conditions. These demands were supported with various bodies of unions, community groups where workers of McDonald’s organised rallies and strikes to raise voice against their employer on wages (Shamir 2016). Example to Valax (2012) McDonald’s is largest employer in Brazil but in 2015 it also held records of being worst employer for maintaining poor labour rights as stated by Central Trade Union of Brazil. The company gave lot of young people their first jobs in market but also exploited many with inappropriate labour conditions and rights. As such McDonald’s came under scrutiny not only in Brazil but also in other parts of world such as US, Latin America, Europe, China for violating labour laws due to poor pays and working conditions. According to Clardy (2012) globally McDonald’s had to face several lawsuits and investigation for maintaining low labour standards and was ranked poorly in labour market though they had large revenues and profits. Several Workers Union filed complaints against McDonald’s for unfair labour practices and violations along with charges for tax evasion and McDonald’s faced immense pressure due to widespread and systematic labour abuses and in several locations labour ministry formed taskforce for investigating McDonald’s labour practices.

As of recently McDonald’s is facing crisis of labour shortage due to drop in unemployment for instance in US unemployment rate in 2018 reached to 4.1% and as such McDonald’s chains are struggling to hire and retain workers as many prefer to work elsewhere.  As labour is most significant element of fast food chains like McDonald’s so tight labour market with rise in minimum wages is making the scenario even more pressing. As such due to low unemployment, retaining and recruiting capable workers has become difficult and this is more aggravated with boost of low employee satisfaction rate that is major reason for low retention (Hunter 2012).  Hence McDonald’s due to labour crisis is facing trouble in providing better customer services and contributions to stores sales.  According to Sajtos, Kreis and Brodie (2015) McDonald’s has been facing this crisis due to their low employee satisfaction rate that had cascaded past few years due to low wages and poor working conditions as such the brand is associated with poor labour rating and in tight labour market condition they are facing risk. Till 2017 McDonald’s year on year satisfaction rate was reported low as compared to other industries in terms of lowest pays. Further rise of average wages for all workers by 1.5% in industries like Target and Walmart has further enhanced the pressure on McDonald’s chains in tight labour market situations so if they want to win they need to make considerable investments for improving their worker pays, benefits to survive and build their business over labour crisis.

People management implications

The implications of educating staffs on people management in context to the areas of interpersonal skills, time management and problem solving are:

Interpersonal skills: according to Texier (2013) as interpersonal skills are people skills which are applied during interactions and collaborations with others so at McDonald’s these skills are significant particularly in context to soft skills like socialization, receiving inputs, processing information to add value to customer services. Also responsibility to contribute to the requisite outcome at work through team work and inter-peer interactions is seen as vital interpersonal skills at McDonald’s. Example, the front level employees at McDonald’s stores are responsible to assist customers in their orders and sales of menus so McDonald’s employees are well groomed to be excellent communicators and have the capability to create a rapport for brand as well as can persuade customers with choices of orders.  These interpersonal skills are cultivated in employees through workplace experiences and hence are vital at work due to the reason that humans live in open system that requires communicating with soft interpersonal skills. The advantages of interpersonal skills are it helps to promote communication and collaboration process to perform tasks smoothly without conflicts. These have vital implications to lower miscommunication, distrust, conflict between workers, workplace politics to improve productivity at work. So educating staffs of McDonald’s through training on interpersonal skills will help to build strong performances and success both in their personal and professional lives. Moreover according to McLeod (2012) strong interpersonal skills will help staffs work well in teams and interact efficaciously with peers, customers or clients. As such staffs with good interpersonal skills are perceived as optimistic, confident and charismatic and these attributes helps to deliver appealing customer service. Contrary if interpersonal skills are not developed then declines work satisfaction in team environment and employees are unable to support adaptation to workplace changes, conveys unprofessionalism, reflects poor leadership and more conflicts and competition among workers can arise in organisational environment thus building poor workplace atmosphere, culture and undesirable results. 

Time management: according to Chakraberty (2013) the time management skills in McDonald’s employees help them effectively manage their time and priorities as an individual and professional so that they can self manage their own tasks as well as help others manage effectively.  This is because of the fact that as McDonald’s runs in fast food industry it is expected from all of their employees to manage multiple roles and stations at same time, so learning to balance time with priority is important for their employees. As each day there are lot of important, less important and unimportant activities so Pickle Jar theory can be used to determine priorities each day to plan tasks in a manner that gives each employees of McDonald’s spare time to manage multiple roles or focus on other constructive improvement areas. At McDonald’s employees are trained to manage their time. This can be explained with process of Pickle jar theory where employees of McDonald’s learn first to put rocks in the jar which represents highly responsible tasks that are important and need to be done and based on these other tasks are planned. After the rocks, the jar is filled with pebbles which represent tasks that can be done by others or can be put on wait.  Finally, jar is filled with sand like each day’s mails, chats, phone calls etc that disappear and can adjust their way between rocks and pebbles.  As such McDonald’s employees are trained to divide their time schedules and tasks in better manner so that all rocks, pebbles and sand can fit each day in their life as in case of pickle jar theory. So with help of Pickle jar concept McDonald’s employees are trained time management which makes them learn prioritisation of workload by dividing activities as important and not important. Hence, things that are important as well as urgent are done in priority first while those that are important but not urgent needs strategic planning and development in long term, are kept in consideration for long. Specifically where time is limited then both important and urgent but less important needs to be prioritised (Williams and Adams 2013). Moreover Time management even helps employees of McDonald’s identify those activities that are often perceived as priority due to urgency even when not important and those activities that do not actually require to be done.  So good time management helps to lower stress in McDonald’s employees by creating awareness and identification of priorities, understanding causative factors and applying effective planning for good execution to avoid delays and stress. If time management and priority division of task is not maintained then it can create complexity in employees of McDonald’s to handle multiple roles making them not meet deadlines and creating various distractions in each day’s activities thus hindering their focus on main tasks and affecting negatively on performance. Moreover poor time management can create stress due to ineffective work planning and implementation. 

Interpersonal skills

Problem solving skills: according to Mînjina (2015) educating staffs of McDonald’s on problem solving skills help them identify their own accountability for problem that can be faced during work and make them solve those through search for answers. Example, front level employees of McDonald’s can face frustrated customer who might be unhappy with service or menu that is offered. So, when such dis-satisfied customers create difficulty through aggression then staffs are McDonald’s need to handle those situations with their problem solving ability. Example during complex situations employees at McDonald’s are trained to use general root cause analysis tools like fishbone diagrams to understand the five basic Why’s. In case of complaints or unusual situations with customers employees try to identify causes by grouping them into categories which helps them interpret how the causes emerged like they try to indentify general causes or faults in categories like equipment, process, environment, people, materials etc to identify cause and effect of problems.   This kind of cause analysis helps employees at McDonald’s figure out questions such as “what actually happened,” “when,” “where,” “why,” “how,” and “so what” until a possible cause is recognised and the outcomes and relevance is investigated. The advantage of problem solving skills learnt by staffs reduces distress and perplexity in complicated situations. As problems can emerge in all size in regular process to vital crisis situations, so strong problems solving ability in staffs of McDonald’s help them systematically think through facts, diagnose the issue, overcome frustration, confusion and misinterpretations before problems become unmanageable. Moreover as stated by Cohen and Kassis-Henderson (2012) poor problem solving ability can hamper cooperation and collaboration between co-workers and management to increase the need for rework thus facilitating inappropriate developments through lack of insight to problem identification in a proactive manner. This as whole affects proper planning in place when any deviations are noticed in standard goals or performance which can be automatically complicate for problematic situations instead of solving them.

Recommendations that can be used by McDonald’s to further rebrand themselves positively as a good employer to deal with and overcome the labour shortage and poor rankings in labour market are as follows:

  • McDonald’s can make their employees feel proud of the brand which means the employer they work for by creating working process that can define distinct workplace culture. The can reshape their values to win employees trust and confidence and can communicate new set of values to everyone within McDonald’s to make them aware. Moreover as employees represents brand values so McDonald’s can use their employees to present values of brand to customers, society and others and in turn reward them adequately for doing so (Stuart 2012).  Hence by improving working practices and giving their employees enough recognition and acknowledgement for their contributions towards brand McDonald’s , the company can provide better customer experiences through improvement of their people factor internally.
  • McDonald’s can improve their practices and policies so as to make their company represent a place where employees would feel like working for long term and would be proud to associate, which is possible to start with their employees. McDonald’s can promote in public about how their employee’s efforts contributes to overall success of business process. This will build engagement at work. McDonald’s can focus equally at all levels for their employees and not limiting to high level executives only (Peterson, AlShebil and Bishop 2015). They can build engaging culture and makes their employees feel worthy by taking them to wine and dine, or on vacations or treating them with respect to give a sense of significance. These gestures of praise can be given to all levels including lower level employees to represent thank you incentives for employees and makes them feel valued which will create positive employer brand and returns for company. Also regular praise and energy exerted by leadership to make employees feel happy will bring in change in re-branding McDonald’s. 
  • McDonald’s can build a culture of niceness that is based on good labour practices and values where employees are truly considered as associates and not workers for company and are held important part of success. A culture can be created where it can be represented that company cares about well being of their people i.e. their employees and in such culture people are considerate about each other and niceness is prevalent (Roy and Sarkar 2015).  McDonald’s can make their employees feel valued by building a culture where sarcasm is limited and can makes the workplace happier by doing little things such as wishing employee’s birthdays, celebrating in occasions, having weekly fun times that will build niceness culture and rebrand McDonald’s, making employees feel part of company.
  • McDonald’s can even make their employees feel appreciated at work with formal reward systems to win their loyalty. Further they can provide development and coaching opportunities for career advancement to make their employees feel interested to remain within the company for long and work for the brand (Ing 2012). Example giving capable employees short term projects will build their knowledge, improve engagement and loyalty. Likewise employees at one location can be sent to other locations to get them engaged with other projects and even get engaged in training with peers which will help to boost their experiences. Moreover employees can be given mentoring at work which will improve people skills and will give them exposure to build relationships with others at work together by meeting multiple times. This will bring in positivity as well as learning experiences (Collange and Bonache 2015). Also building open communication opportunities will help employees interact with management and share their concerns or ideas more straightforward to build official relationships. These seasoned steps where employees get time to interact with others will promote healthy culture and give them socialisation atmospheres which will help to reshape the McDonald’s brand and boost positive employer image.     

According to Yakimova, Mavondo, Freeman and Stuart (2017) McDonald’s with their employer rebranding initiatives can get buy-in from their employees by developing value which can win their satisfaction and loyalty. Hence McDonald’s can win tangible benefits through reshaping their poor employer image to overcome negative results that occurred due to ignorance of adequate labour rights and policies.  The purposes that can be met through strong employer branding internally are:

  • A strong and compelling employer brand can help to retain talented employees who can be lost to competitors of McDonald’s due to more wages on offer. Along with adequate salary and bonus schemes that can be offered to employees at McDonald’s a strong branding can help them win over as employees these days look beyond just remunerations. If McDonald’s can successfully build their image and positive reputation in labour market then they can get an edge over their rivals (Juntunen 2015). This can be attained by communicating values both among employees internally and to public externally through potential job advertisements, announcements so that good working practices and lifestyle benefits like flexible working can be promoted amongst people which will help to retain and acquire talented people.
  • A positive and successful employer branding that is well communicated along with working practices and policies to the employees will keep them aware about their expectations and clear their doubts. Moreover clear communication of employer brand helps to set realistic expectations as an employer and employees as such do not get misled or frustrated (Bailey, Price, Pyman and Parker 2015).  This honesty and openness will help to retain employees by reflecting positive aspects of McDonald’s and build a brand that employees would be proud of to get associated with. Moreover understanding is built when purposes are realistic and this helps to resolve any issues between employer and employee.
  • McDonald’s by rebranding responsible employer image will help to enhance positive perception that will build good reputation in labour market and they will be able to deal with labour crisis by not relying much on recruitment advertisements. McDonald’s strong employer brand and reputation will serve the purpose of great advertisement tool in itself that will attract job seekers and they will be naturally inclined to get associated with company (Jones and Kubacki 2014). Moreover strong employer branding can be used to leverage and save cost of acquiring talent  by allowing potential candidates to register for new vacancies or alerts over website so that whenever vacancy arises they will be notified instantly and can submit applications giving way to large pool of talent that can allow McDonald’s get right match of candidate for job. Moreover good reputation even helps to retain talent by reducing attrition and saving costs.   
  • Positive employer branding will help McDonald’s save time by not putting extra efforts to source potential candidates as they will be naturally interested to get a job in the company. While in case of negative branding implication is opposite over candidates and they would be not likely to work with company even if they are unemployed due to bad image. So positive employer branding builds good reputation that makes candidates get pulled in and hence time is saved to fill the vacancy.
  • As a firm is much more than their corporate website so a positive employer branding will help to build strong employee experiences that can be showcased in websites of McDonald’s. So, when a potential talent will consider for a job application they would read true employee experiences instead of jargons loaded on website which will reflect an idea of culture at McDonald’s and things that will echo within potential candidates and will make them interested to work for company. Similarly in case of current employees good employer branding will help to reverberate human side of company thus keeping them retained and even communicate positive word of mouth in networks either through career sites, social media which will help to place a real picture of McDonald’s and will give a voice to the employer’s brand identity.    
  • A positive employer branding will help McDonald’s stand out among competitors in industry which will help to build a consistent publicity in labour market as people will talk about good brands as well as bad brands. So when McDonald’s will successfully achieve good branding this reputation can drive to an increase in referral hiring as employees will speak positively about company and as such McDonald’s will receive god source of referrals and talented employees.  Similarly this also works differently in case when good reputation of employer is not maintained. Even in such instances, employees would spread negative image quickly and new talents might put away from applying to new roles or current idle roles. As such employer branding is not a passing trend rather it is something that can directly affect successfulness of business by impacting labour market and efforts of company to either attract or retain their employees.      

Conclusion

Thus from the discussion it is clearly evident that business needs to facilitate good reputation and brand identity in market so that they do not face any likely labour crisis or bad publicity that can impact on their business process. Also to build strong internal strength business needs to develop their employees as they are face of employer brand with help of opportunities in form of training imparted for development of interpersonal skills, time management and problem solving. This is specifically significant as it reduces stress among employees and makes them more adaptable to changes as well as leverages their full potential to self manage their tasks and roles through effective understanding of priorities, good planning and execution. Also it develops abilities to work in team and nurtures collaboration that creates a positive working environment and culture to support a positive employer branding and delivery of desirable performances in areas of job. 

Time management

References

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Chakraberty, S. (2013). Global HR management and organizational development. IPE Journal of Management, [Online] 3(1), 24-51. Available: https://search.proquest.com/docview/1440261779?accountid=30552 [Accessed on 19 Oct. 2018]

Clardy, A. (2012). Organizational reputation: Issues in conceptualization and measurement. Corporate Reputation Review, [Online] 15(4), 285-303. Available: doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1057/crr.2012.17 [Accessed on 19 Oct. 2018]

Cohen, L., and Kassis-Henderson, J. (2012). Language use in establishing rapport and building relations : Implications for international teams and management education. Revue Management & Avenir, [Online] (55), 185-207. Available: https://search.proquest.com/docview/1690093231?accountid=30552 [Accessed on 19 Oct. 2018]

Collange, V., and Bonache, A. (2015). Overcoming resistance to product rebranding. The Journal of Product and Brand Management, [Online] 24(6), 621-632. Available: https://search.proquest.com/docview/1712457603?accountid=30552 [Accessed on 19 Oct. 2018]

Hunter, M. (2012). ON SOME OF THE MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT ENTREPRENEURSHIP. Economics, Management and Financial Markets, [Online] 7(2), 55-104. Available https://search.proquest.com/docview/1034735984?accountid=30552 [Accessed on 19 Oct. 2018]

Ing, G. P. (2012). CORPORATE REBRANDING AND THE EFFECTS ON CONSUMERS' ATTITUDE STRUCTURE. International Journal of Business and Society, [Online] 13(3), 255-278. Available:  https://search.proquest.com/docview/1355670584?accountid=30552 [Accessed on 19 Oct. 2018]

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