Would You Like Fries with That?

I was sitting in the drive-thru to Mickey D’s today and noticed they had a sign up saying “Taking Applications”. It seems fast food places are always looking for help. McDonald’s has 100% turnover in their hourly wage workforce (according to the company) and therefore they have incorporated hiring into the daily tasks for store managers. High turnover can tell you something about a company and about the people who work for a company. In McDonald’s case, we know that hourly workers generally fit the following profile:

– young teenagers in their first job
– poorly educated adults with no higher job skills
– willing to work for minimum wage or slightly higher
– willing to work part-time, shift work, and weekends
– transient due to school schedules or changes in home situation

Does the high turnover rate mean that McDonald’s is necessarily a bad company to work for? No, in fact, McDonald’s is a great place to work if you fit the profile above. It probably would not be a good fit for someone who is between ages 25 and 60 and in the prime of their earning potential.

Turnover in a more traditional company such as a bank or a technology company can be a sign of internal problems. Job seekers who are actively on the hunt should take note of job listings by companies that occur frequently or occur in larger numbers than is normal. They could be signs of a poor corporate culture or imbalance between worker-employer expectations. If a hospital is continually advertising for nurses, it is likely just an indication of the demand for nurses. However, if the hospital is also continually advertising for administrative personnel, human resources, middle management, and other support personnel, it might be sign that the workplace is not hospitable (pardon the pun).

If you have your eye on a certain company that seems to be continually advertising for help, do your best to talk to someone who either currently works for the company or has recently worked for the company so you can get the inside scoop. Ask about the work hours, benefits, cycle of pay raises, employer expectations, and other factors that influence employee satisfaction.

If you have an interview with a company that you may think has a turnover problem, probe that area during the interview. Ask the interviewer what the percentage rate of turnover is for the company. Ask who the most tenured person is in the company. Tell the interviewer you have noticed they seem to be advertising for new employees a great deal – could they tell you why?

Finally, if you are considering a job with a company that has a high turnover rate, get the job offer in writing. Make sure it includes everything that has been promised to you such as flex time, comp time, dental coverage, etc. Often, companies will promise the moon to get a job candidate to sign the bottom line then renege on those promises later. If you have it in writing, you have leverage for later.

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