Lancaster University

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Research Shows McDonald’s Customers Prefer Older Workers

09/01/2009 11:30:13

Employees over 60 are a significant benefit to business according to research from the Centre for Performance-led HR at Lancaster University Management School.

Researchers examined the performance of more than 400 McDonald’s restaurants across the UK, revealing that levels of customer satisfaction were on average 20 per cent higher in restaurants that employ staff aged 60 and over.

The study compared the performance data of 178 McDonald’s restaurants where one or more members of staff aged over 60 years of age is employed with the performance data of 239 McDonald’s restaurants where nobody over 50 years of age is employed.

Professor Paul Sparrow, Director of the Centre for Performance-led HR, Lancaster University, said:

“The research clearly demonstrates the very real business value of recruiting an age diverse workforce. For McDonald’s, we can show that the presence of older employees improves customer satisfaction, and in a service led business such as theirs, this drives the bottom line. Mature employees are a key part of the performance recipe.

“This is good news for the workforce given the changing demographics of our society. We’re likely to see more and more people working for longer, either because they are sufficiently fit and healthy to do so, or to shore up their financial security.

“Employers must rise to the challenge of adapting to Britain’s ageing workforce, and this research shows that there can be a sizeable prize at stake for those which succeed in doing so.”

Around two-fifths of McDonald’s restaurants employ staff aged 60 and over and a survey of restaurant managers shows that over two thirds said older workers empathise and connect well with customers. Almost half said they deliver the best possible customer service while 44% believe older employees mentor younger colleagues.

David Fairhurst, Senior Vice President, Chief People Officer, McDonald’s UK & Northern Europe, said: “Changing demographics in the workplace mean that later life workers are now the fastest growing age group in the labour market. Yet despite the growing numbers of mature workers, their contribution to business and the wider economy often goes unsung. It might surprise people to learn that at McDonald’s we employ over 1000 people aged 60 and above. These employees play an important role in our business and, as the research shows, they make a huge impact on customer satisfaction.”

Rachel Krys, Campaign Director, The Employers Forum on Age, said: “I warmly welcome the research findings from Lancaster University. In what is undoubtedly a challenging commercial environment, it’s vital that businesses across the UK continue to recognise the strong business case for age diversity.”