In August 2019, McDonald’s announced that it would roll out a brand new workplace safety training program for workers and managers in response to employee complaints.
The goal of the training? To address workplace bullying, discrimination, and sexual harassment in the workplace.
What can you learn from McDonald’s workplace safety training? Here’s what you need to know.
McDonald’s Workplace Safety Training
Beginning in October of this year, the company will roll out new training policies.
According to McDonald’s president Chris Kempczinski, “Together with our franchisees, we have a responsibility to take action on this issue and are committed to promoting positive change.”
McDonald’s safety training will take effect at all 14,000 restaurant locations in the U.S. About 95% of those locations are operated by franchisees, and while all workers will be paid during the training, franchisees (who are independent owners) are not required to provide it.
Because McDonald’s franchise locations are independently owned, corporate leadership cannot force them to provide the training, nor can they mandate how owners treat their employees.
The training was developed in partnership with RAINN, a sexual violence prevention organization. It will include a mix of in-person and online training and will cover issues from retaliation prevention to defusing violent situations to reporting a harassment complaint.
The Problem Behind the Change
But for many employees in the company, the program isn’t enough.
McDonald’s announced the training after months of complaints from employees. In May, there were 50 filed sexual harassment charges and lawsuits against the company since advocacy groups began calling out McDonald’s on the topic three years ago. Worse, some workers found that their hours were slashed after filing complaints. Others faced disciplinary action – or were fired outright.
Harassment in the Fast Food Industry
The problem is rampant at McDonald’s, but in the fast-food industry, they’re not unique. If anything, they’re emblematic of an industry-wide issue.
The tragic reality for many fast-food workers (especially women of color in low-wage jobs) is that harassment is commonplace. 40% of female fast-food workers experience sexual harassment in the workplace.
Unfortunately, for many women, they have a choice to make: to report their harassment and face disciplinary action for it, or to tolerate inappropriate behavior to get a paycheck they can’t go without. 42% of women said they felt they had to accept the harassment rather than lose their jobs.
Unfortunately, while training and workplace policies exist, they often go un-enforced. And because franchise locations are independently owned, corporate leadership has limited oversight to ensure that these policies are utilized.
Learning from McDonald’s
Creating effective safety guidelines in the workplace starts with two things: training and a zero-tolerance policy.
For employers who value a safe, healthy work environment, enforcement is key. As McDonald’s case shows, employees saw little benefit from prevention policies because those policies were often ignored by management.
Start by teaching your employees what is acceptable behavior in the work environment and what isn’t. Make sure that every worker (and supervisor) completes safety training, and make sure that you enforce the rules.