“We shouldn’t look down at McDonald’s […] For many people it is the only opportunity to get their first job at all.”
This is what the Prime Minister of Sweden said recently in the country’s largest newspaper in regard to the high rate of youth unemployment in Sweden.
Everyone has an opinion – unfortunately often wrong – on McDonald’s as a workplace. There is a clear hierarchy of status in Sweden where academic merits are valued highly, and service low. Furthermore, there are many prejudices on McDonald’s as a workplace. But McDonald’s is Sweden’s largest private youth employer and the employees at McDonald’s like and are proud of their work. All surveys show this over and over again, year after year. On top of this McDonald’s provides many young people with valuable experience in demand on the labour market, which is confirmed by managers at other companies in a number of studies.
Yet, many are of the opinion that a job at McDonald’s consists of monotonous tasks with no outlook for career progression. In order to spread a fair picture, McDonald’s works with a long-term successful strategy of spreading knowledge to opinion leaders about McDonald’s as an employer.
There are a number of reasons to profile McDonald’s as an good employer. One is to boost employees internally, another is that McDonald’s wants to contribute to positive opinions on ethnic integration and the rights of youth to develop. McDonald’s has a well-working model for offering youth their entry pass into working life and developing employees. McDonald’s wants to inspire others with this experience.
The overall strategy is to profile the great experience and knowledge about the youth labour market which exists in the company and what it can mean for an individual’s future. Swedish McDonald’s 36 years of experience in recruiting, employing and training hundreds of thousands of people shall be communicated, at the same time as it is an opportunity to show the openness and relation to youths and minority groups that exists within McDonald’s.
The work of spreading a fair picture of McDonald’s as a workplace starts with politicians and opinion leaders. With the right knowledge they will not use McDonald’s mistakenly as examples, but can instead profile and confirm McDonald’s role in the debate. The long-term work in building opinion has taken a number of steps forward in the past year.
The efforts to strengthen McDonald’s as a workplace is a long-term investment. The communications have covered a range of own, purchased and non-purchased initiatives and activities over the past years. During 2009, a year in which youth unemployment in Sweden was amongst the highest in Europe, focus has been on McDonald’s as a youth employer.
The voice of the youth
Together with the book site vulkan.se, McDonald’s arranged a writing competition for both employees and other young people on the theme of diversity. The best entries were collated in a book which McDonald’s published during the year. McDonald’s press manager was in the jury along with Sweden’s Youth and Integration Minister, Nyamko Sabuni, and others.
For politicians to be able to form their own impression of McDonald’s as a workplace and be able to meet and talk with our employees we invited all Swedish members of Parliament to a traineeship at a McDonald’s restaurant. During the autumn members of Parliament from different electoral districts visited and had a traineeship at their local McDonald’s restaurant. Approximately thirty politicians did or will do a traineeship during the year at McDonald’s, an activity that will continue in 2010.
Recently Sweden’s Minister for Employment, Sven Otto Littorin, visited McDonald’s Business School and a restaurant, where he discussed recruitment, training and careers with the employees.
Furthermore, one of Sweden’s top candidates for the EU elections, Marit Paulsen, held part of her election campaign at a McDonald’s restaurant.
Twelve local entrepreneurs in McDonald’s received extra support to make political contacts, write debate articles and create media relationships in their boroughs. This is an effective way to underline the image of the local company McDonald’s, run by a local business person. One of their focuses during the year has been McDonald’s as a workplace. Before the summer the entrepreneurs have highlighted the issue of youth rights and opportunities on the labour market in debate articles in various newspapers with great success.
Ad campaign – ”We don’t hire any immigrants”
With an provocative ad in the daily press, attention was generated. “We don’t hire any immigrants” (with the explanation: ”nor Swedes – we hire individuals”).
Measurements show a clear improvement of the Swedes’ attitude towards McDonald’s as a working place. In 2009 the number of job applications will increase by approximately 20 percent compared to 2008.
Furthermore, today companies see McDonald’s as a good start for a successful career, not least as shown in the statement from the Prime Minister and the visit from the Minister for Employment.
Approximately 30 politicians did a traineeship at McDonald’s during the year, including Sweden’s Minister for Employment.
The total reach for articles on McDonald's as a workplace was almost 25.5 million only in print media during the first 11 months of the year. That is almost three times more than the Swedish population. The media value for these 210 items and articles is calculated at over 30 million Swedish crowns.