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Reasons for Choosing a Career in Fast Food

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So many people are ignorant of the advantages of having a career in fast food or even a part-time job in the industry. They see working in a fast food restaurant as a job for robots. They even go so far as to call these restaurants the "20th century's sweatshops." They do not see the very real opportunity for advancement that exists in this industry, even for people who start as crew workers and have no further education beyond high school.

When these people see "Help Wanted" signs in restaurant windows, they fail to realize that the fast food industry is part of the huge service industry where most of the new jobs in this country are being created. They don't stop to think that for every fast food restaurant, there is a manager and probably one or more assistant managers and that there are district managers, area managers, and regional managers. Nor do these people appreciate that most of these people are working for corporations that have vice-presidents, presidents, and large management staffs. They simply don't see what should be obvious: There are very good opportunities for advancement in the fast food industry. Furthermore, this advancement can be quite rapid for people demonstrating initiative and skill. It can even be speeded up by some education beyond high school. Moreover, there are many other advantages to a fast food career beside opportunities for promotion.

Benefits Plans for Fast Food Workers



Until labor shortages became a real problem, most standard benefits packages of health and life insurance and retirement plans did not begin for hourly workers until they had been employed for at least six months to a year. In addition, many of these packages did not include any benefits for part-time workers. Now that is changing because of the shortage of hourly workers. Enrollment in benefits plans is beginning much sooner, and the plans are far more generous. In addition, hourly workers now often get paid sick leave and paid vacations. They can expect free or half-price meals while they are on duty. Uniforms are free, and they may even be laundered for hourly workers. They may also find that they can have paid child care, transportation allowances, and even English language classes. Standard benefits for salaried employees normally begin 30 days after they are employed.

Cash Rewards and Incentives

The labor shortage has also brought in a system of cash rewards. Hourly workers are now being paid cash rewards for staying on the job for a specified length of time and for bringing in workers who are hired. According to Nation's Restaurant News, Wendy's is offering cash rewards of up to $50 for workers who recommend people who are hired and to the recruited workers themselves.

As an incentive to do a good job; hourly workers can receive cash or prizes. One example given in Restaurants and Institutions is Rax of Indiana, which gives hourly workers who master two-thirds of the work stations an extra $25 in their paychecks. Employees who do outstanding work are named "Employee of the Month" and given prizes in many restaurants. One Minneapolis McDonald's gave as a prize the use of a limousine for an evening.

Bonuses for Management

Bonuses are paid for performance, and they are paid in cash. In the fast food industry, an effective employee can turn an average income into a good one through bonuses. At many chains bonuses are paid to assistant managers, managers, and district managers who meet goals like controlling costs and certain budgeted sales. In 1987-88, it was possible for Hardee's managers to earn as much as $7,500 in bonuses while at some franchise-owned Wendy's and Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants, managers were making bonuses of 30 percent or more of their base pay.

Profit Sharing

Profit sharing plans are those in which companies share a certain percentage of the profits with their employees. Typically, the money becomes part of the employee's retirement plan.

Pay Can Be Good

Once hourly workers were hired at the minimum wage, and that was it. But labor shortages in many areas have made starting wages more competitive with other entry-level jobs. Beginning hourly pay now ranges from a few cents over minimum wage to as much as $8 an hour. Wages of about $4 an hour are commonplace. There are also regular wage increases, perhaps as many as three in the first year for effective employees.

Managers' salaries can be good. According to the National Restaurant Association, the median annual base salary in 1987 in foodservice, which includes fast food chains, was $24,000. However, bonuses increased the salaries of many managers. The median annual bonus for those receiving bonuses was $4,000. Some fast food restaurant managers will make considerably more than this. There are even managers making $50,000 a year.

The National Restaurant Association survey of wages and benefits for salaried employees and executives in the foodservice industry in 1987 showed that district managers had a median annual base salary of $35,000, with a median annual bonus of $6,350 when one was given. The salary and bonus figures for other executives were:

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Many fast food companies are assisting their employees in getting education beyond high school. After just three months of continuous work, Burger King crew workers who put in at least 15 hours per week and have a satisfactory work performance rating are eligible to earn funds that can be applied to post-high school education. A maximum of $2,000 can be earned. Hardee's has an educational reimbursement plan for employees who want to develop their individual management and technical skills through courses outside the company. After six months of service with Hardee's, employees can receive up to $1,000 per year for courses taken at accredited colleges or universities that will contribute to their career advancement at Hardee's.

Most of the major fast food chains have scholarship programs. Eligibility requirements usually include working for a designated period of time at a restaurant, being employed at the restaurant when the scholarship award is announced, maintaining a certain grade point average, and having plans to enroll or be enrolled in a college or vocational institution. Burger King, Hardee's, and the other chains also have a number of scholarship programs for children of employees.

More Reasons for Choosing a Fast Food Career

When fast food workers are asked what they like about their jobs, one answer that is heard all the time is the camaraderie or teamwork that exists between the workers in the restaurant. Another is that the job is fun. Here are even more reasons why fast food workers like their jobs: opportunity to work with people, flexible work hours, on-the-job training, low entry requirements, and the opportunity to run your own business.
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