Fast Food Employees Say They Are Hurting World

March 14, 2012

Fast food employees seem to be dissatisfied with their jobs impact on society. Find out how to turn that around, and how a negative sentiment trickles down to sales.

What makes for a satisfied employee? One who loves what they are doing, feels part of a team, feels they are paid fairly, has a sense of achievement, and more according to general findings from psychologists. Many food companies and retailers try to cultivate all of these qualities and more, but may be forgetting a large part of the equation – do workers feel their job is helping the world?

According to a recent analysis of Payscale data, ( the New York Times found that despite the fact they are feeding millions of hungry customers on a daily basis, fast food workers feel their job is hurting the world. In fact, a whopping 40 percent of fast food workers who filled out the Payscale survey, said their jobs make the world a worse place. Some of the other jobs that made the list; bartenders, attorneys, and fashion designers – although less than ten percent of each of these groups feel this way.

Fast food employees may be concerned about the negative health impacts of their work, from poor nutrition to denying ethical treatment of animals. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research being in close proximity to a fast food restaurant significantly increases the risk of obesity.

So what are fast food eateries to do? Focus on making their employees happy. This may be an uphill battle as the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects there to be 19,000 fewer fast food cooks by 2020.

According to Dennis Reynolds, associate director, and Ivar Haglund Distinguished Professor at the Washington State University School of Hospitality Business Management (, the "secret ingredient" for success in the restaurant business is more likely to be found in the attitudes of those who serve the food than in the food itself. In an effort to explain why same-brand restaurants in similar settings can have significant differences in productivity and profit, Reynolds and Haglund scrutinized financial information, operating statistics, and employee and guest satisfaction data for a nationwide chain of 36 casual-theme restaurants. What the research revealed was that employee satisfaction - rather than more traditional operational variables such as perceived value - was the most significant factor in predicting a restaurant's customer satisfaction, and in turn, profitability.

Turn to the supermarket world and think about the cheery employees at Trader Joe’s. Make sure your employees are happy, and customers will want to visit your store for more that just what’s stocked on your shelves.