McD’s Combines Work and Homework for Pay

Discussion
Jul 14, 2005
George Anderson

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
restaurants?


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
done.

George Anderson – Moderator

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7 Comments on "McD’s Combines Work and Homework for Pay"


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Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 7 months ago

The school year, excluding holidays, is about 42 weeks, so the cost is about $12,600 annually. This is nothing compared to any one of the following: the McDonald’s franchise fee, rent, paper goods, trash removal, electricity, etc. And it helps get the store staffed. Staffing the store is probably the #1 major headache of any fast food place, since turnover is usually measured in 3 digits. So the owners get great PR and the parents as allies, the kids get a raise, and the staffing problem is reduced. How much more can anyone get for $12,600?

Charlie Moro
Guest
Charlie Moro
15 years 7 months ago

What a great idea and great people… companies are always shouting how much of their profits they are sharing back into the community at large. Why not start much closer to home with their own employees?

Zel Bianco
Guest
15 years 7 months ago

Great idea. I just attended Parents Orientation at Boston College where my son will be attending in September. One of the insights that were discussed was that many of the campus jobs allowed students to do their homework part of the time. It was also pointed out that working while going to school was a good way for students to be better at time management. The McDonald’s employers should be commended for this program. I hope that other McDonald’s owners take their lead. It could have a significant positive effect on many kids that will truly benefit from a program like this.

Tom McGoldrick
Guest
Tom McGoldrick
15 years 7 months ago

The program seems like a great way to attract and retain good student workers. As a parent, it seems like a great idea.

I wonder how their non-student employees feel though. If I were a non-student employee and saw a bunch of employees sitting around a table talking and laughing while doing homework and getting paid for it, I would probably get upset. I hope they have similar programs for other workers: a volunteer day off, incentive for commuting via bike or public transportation, etc. After all, McDonald’s also hires many seniors.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 7 months ago

Sounds like parents like it. Might even save them some of what they give kids for their allowances if they’re getting paid to do their homework. And it might encourage more of them to push their kids into McDonald’s arms. But I share the reaction about incentivising all employees for doing the right thing. Instead of linking payment to keeping them on the premises visibly doing something other than working (see yesterday’s discussion – this could give customers the impression that employees are slacking, after all), perhaps good grades or completed homework (kids here have homework diaries that parents and/or employers could sign) should receive similar benefits to those suggested e.g. traveling to work by bike or whatever.

Jeff Weitzman
Guest
Jeff Weitzman
15 years 7 months ago
The professor isn’t looking at the right facts: If the owners are taking this money out of their profits, it is not going to have any effect at all on their ability to compete, just as contributing to charity would not either. If they can afford it, more power to them. As for being “fair” to all the workers, I say “bah.” I hardly ever say “bah” so maybe I’m getting old or something. The fact is, these kids have homework and the other workers don’t. The shift is hard to staff and if this helps the store get coverage during those times, then it is a benefit to both the worker and the store. That way all the other people keep their jobs because the store doesn’t go out of business. Does every person there get paid the exact same amount? Do they get any other benefits? Benefits don’t cost the store the same for each employee. Bottom line is that the store owners could have decided it would pay teenagers an extra 50… Read more »
Richard Layman
Guest
15 years 7 months ago

I haven’t opened the establishment yet, but my intent is to assign different workers different trade publications to read, and pay them for it, and to report on their reading in a weekly meeting, with the idea of capturing ideas to improve the restaurant.

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