In 2008, McDonald’s commissioned a Lancaster University to look at the value of older workers to their business. They found that overall levels of customer satisfaction were statistically significantly higher in those restaurants with one or more mature employees.

The Lancaster University research was a direct result of the changes that McDonalds could see taking place in its workforce. As David Fairhurst, chief people officer at McDonald’s Europe said, the business which employs 425,000 people in 38 European markets, was already starting to feel the effects of what he called the “workforce cliff”. “The workforce is shrinking at both ends of the spectrum,” he told the Financial Times. “There aren’t enough young people coming into the labour market and too many older people are leaving it.”

So as a direct result of this study, McDonald’s stepped up recruitment of older workers and made efforts to encourage employment of younger workers. The company even placed grandparents to work alongside their grandchildren in its restaurants.

"The research showed the benefits of a growing number of older workers to be far-reaching."

Bill Dudley celebratig his 90th birthday.

To better understand the impact of truly multigenerational working, McDonald’s brought together statisticians, researchers and its own research and insights team to understand the value of an age-diverse workforce to its restaurant teams and to its customers and to look at the impact of not only the oldest workers within the business, but the full age span of people and the benefits of them working side-by-side as part of a multigenerational workforce.  

In 2016 McDonald’s ran an employee survey of 32,000 restaurant staff across 381restaurants. A key focus of this study was to understand the role of age ranges and older age groups within the restaurants. Whilst the majority of restaurants’ employees are under the age of 30, McDonald’s is still one of the largest employers of older age ranges in the country. Their oldest worker, Bill Dudley, recently celebrated his 91st birthday and he is still happily working his regular four-hour shift alongside colleagues aged from 16 upwards. Of the restaurants included in the study, 94% had at least one employee over the age of 50 and 51% had someone over the age of 60. McDonald’s also questioned nearly 1,000 regular customers drawn from across the country.

McDonalds multigenerational workforce

So what did the survey show? They found the benefits of a growing number of older workers to be far-reaching. Workers were happier in their jobs. Restaurants which had a more diverse age range of people working a shift together, were up to 10% happier in their jobs, had a more positive outlook towards McDonald’s role in their developmental and career growth needs, as well as their overall wellbeing. As Claire Hall, Chief People Officer UK said, “welcome to the year of multigenerational living”.

The survey also showed how age diverse teams affected customers.The survey showed that customers reported a better restaurant experience when different generations work together. Customer satisfaction levels were on average 20 per cent higher in restaurants that employ staff aged 60 and over. And the survey found that an overwhelming majority (84%) like to see a mix of ages in the restaurant team and most (60%) expect better service as a result.

Great results which make sense on all levels — from the worker, the customer and the business.The question is why are more companies not doing it? 

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