McBosses Are Okay
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and the Instituto de Empresa Business School in Spain pretty much assumed (along with a good percentage of the general population) that fast food franchisees were the kinds of bosses that you wanted someone else to work for.
It turns out, they acknowledge in a Knowledge@Wharton article, that franchise owners make for good bosses and the jobs they offer are often much better than the independent competition.
Peter Cappelli, director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources and Monika Hamori, a management professor at Instituto de Empresa Business School in Spain, researched and wrote the report Are Franchises Bad Employers?.
After analyzing data from a national employment survey designed by Prof. Cappelli, the researchers concluded that franchises paid their employees more and offered better training than like-sized independents.
The independents, however, did have some advantages working in their favor, according to the researchers. Employee turnover was lower, in part, because of a higher percentage of full-timers. Managers at independents also tended to be better educated.
“A fair assessment might be that franchise jobs offer more [than non-franchise ones] to lower-quality workers,” according to the researchers.
Prof. Cappelli said the findings serve to dispel some myths surrounding franchise and independent business owners. It “takes away from the idea that there are good guys and bad guys out there [among employers]. On some dimensions, franchises are good, and on some they aren’t…. Our view is that different companies have different models. Some are good at training, and so it makes sense to train. Others would rather pursue a low-wage, churning strategy.”
A common criticism of so-called McJobs is that they lead to a career dead end. Prof. Cappelli said he believes that too narrow a view is often held by critics who fail to appreciate the experience working in a McDonald’s, for example, can pay off at another job at another company down the line.
“There is a hierarchy of jobs, and other things being equal, people do work their way up,” he said. “But you don’t need six months of work at McDonald’s to work at Applebee’s. It’s just that from the employer’s perspective, it makes you a better bet. The fact that people move that way doesn’t reflect that they are acquiring skills.”
Having the experience of working in a McDonald’s can prove helpful when hiring slows, according to Prof. Cappelli. “For a job that was entry level, like a dishwasher at Applebee’s, they won’t hire anybody unless he has had some work experience. A place like McDonald’s could provide that experience.”
Discussion Questions: What pros and cons do you see associated with finding entry-level work at franchised and independently run businesses? Are franchise operators getting an undeserved rap for being bad bosses? Does it pay for them to even try and overcome people’s negative perceptions of them as employers?
- Are Franchises Bad Employers? A Closer Look at Burger Flippers and Other Low-paid Jobs – Knowledge@Wharton