McDonald’s Offers its Employees Budget Tips But They Aren’t ‘Lovin’ It’

In an effort to bolster its employee relations program, McDonald’s launched a microsite aimed at helping staffers balance their finances. But the seemingly positive gesture has backfired on the fast food giant because the budget is unrealistic and suggests employees should seek a second job.

Implementing a beneficial employee relations program is a difficult tightrope to walk, especially when you employ millions of workers. Offering a service that helps employees learn the value of budgeting and saving is commendable. However, McDonald’s didn't address the realities that its employees face, and the company essentially outlines that they provide an unlivable wage.

The McDonalad’s microsite, hosted by, assumes earners take in $1,105 each month by working at the restaurant. But the budget also suggests employees take on a second job, which should net them another $955 each month. With the company’s employees’ average hourly wage sitting around $8.25 an hour, making the math work under this budget means  employees need to put in around 70 hours a week.

Implying that your employees should work 70 hours a week just to get by is not a good employee relations plan. Another bad idea is making suggestions that are unrealistic and unattainable. For example, the budget allocates $20 each month for health insurance, which is significantly less than what most insured individuals pay; in fact it’s less than most per-visit co-pays. Likewise is true with the $100 that’s allocated on a single line for both car and home insurance.

Still, what is perhaps most disturbing about the “McBudget” is that it fails to account for the most basic necessity–food. Perhaps the company assumes food will fall under the $25 per day spending goal? If that’s the case, then maybe the company is also assuming its employees will capitalize on its Dollar Menu three times a day?

Whatever the case, McDonald’s should've thought this move through a little more carefully. Not only does it threaten employee morale on a macro scale, but it also presents a less-than-favorable public image. McDonald’s is a massive company that is always under the public's microscope, so it should have considered the possibility that this short-sighted budget proposal could attract negative attention.

The lesson for communicators here isn’t about providing a livable wage for employees (although it should be a desired goal); instead the lesson is to keep your communications realistically focused, and consider how those efforts will be perceived.



Follow Caysey Welton: @CayseyW



About Caysey Welton

Caysey Welton is Associate Editor at PR News and Folio: Magazine. He spent more than a decade as a chef and restaurant professional before switching tracks to pursue his passion for media and communications. Caysey has a deep interest in converging media landscapes and ecosystem disruptors, public relations and crisis communications. He holds a BS in Media, Culture and Communications from New York University.

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