McD’s Combines Work and Homework for Pay
By George Anderson
Kathy and Jerry Olinik employ a lot of teenagers at the two McDonald’s they operate in Michigan and they care about how they turn out. That’s why the couple, who say they are just trying to do the right thing, will pay employees for an extra hour of work on each shift (before or after) to do their homework at the restaurant.
Mr. Olinik told The Associated Press, “Kids are our future. Anything we can do to support that is the responsible thing to do.”
“I think it’d be wonderful if other employers offered it as well,” he said.
George Johnson, an economics professor at the University of Michigan, thinks it unlikely that others will follow the Olinik’s example.
“It is expensive for a firm to pay workers to do something that does not add to revenue,” he said. “Any firms who don’t participate will have lower costs and drive the ‘good’ firms out of business. … It would be nice if we could expect private business firms to do more than simply provide goods and services. But unless we legally impose constraints on all firms … it is naive to expect firms to do more than make profits.”
The Oliniks do see benefits for their business with the program that perhaps Prof. Johnson has overlooked.
Mrs. Olinik initially began the program, according to the AP report, when she managed a McDonald’s outside of Detroit and was finding it hard to staff the 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. shift.
“Economic times were very good, and the priority for parents was to have kids concentrate on school,” said Mr. Olinik. “Work was way down on the list.”
Mrs. Olinik says she offered the program and found both kids and parents loved it. She also found a teamwork benefit as students began studying together to help each other out.
Ultimately, say the Oliniks, this is just a way for the couple to give back to the communities that have supported their business.
Moderator’s Comment: What is your risk/benefit analysis of the homework program offered by Kathy and Jerry Olinik to students working at their McDonald’s
The Oliniks estimate the program costs them about $300 a week to run. Restaurant managers supervise employees to make sure they are getting their homework
George Anderson – Moderator