Managing multiculturalism and diversity in McDonalds

Executive summary

Human resources management is an important consideration in the hospitality industry mainly because it is the employees who are able to improve the performance to the organisation because of their ability to provide significant levels of service and satisfaction levels to the customers of the organisation. The report evaluates certain organisational and human resource with related issues in the case of the ground level or the store level staff of McDonald’s store in West London. The author with the personal experience gained during the employment with the company is evaluating the issues related to the social and cultural differences of the employees and the problems created due to the lack of understanding between the employees and customers and also the difficulty in managing the multicultural work force. Due to the social and cultural differences of the employees, there are constant levels of conflict between the employees and integrating the employees into a single team in order to perform effectively is an issue. Another aspect is the higher levels of education and experience of the employees working at the ground level mainly from their parent nation’s which is a motivation for them to look for higher paying jobs and consider the employment at McDonald’s as a stopgap arrangement. In order to reduce the constant conflicts due to social and cultural differences, the recommendation is to provide them with training on multiculturalism and install them with an understanding of the social and cultural differences from different nationalities. In order to increase the retention rate of the temporary and part-time workers, the management must communicate with them about the potential opportunities within the same organisation in terms of promotions and other opportunities.

Introduction

Management of human resources has become an important strategic concern modern-day business organisation. In the case of the hospitality industry which is oriented with their service culture, it is the human resources of the company which can be considered as the most important asset (Wilson, 2010) because the people working for the organisation with their attitudes and behaviour should be able to provide excellent service to the customer’s. In the case of other industry vertical, strategic assets in terms of branding, financial resources and other types of resources could provide competitive advantage, but in the case of a hotel or a restaurant, the people working for the company is the only resource which is able to provide a difference between the success or failure of the organisation. The present report is evaluating to issues concerning human resources management or organisational behaviour mainly with related to the economic situation in the United Kingdom. Small-scale hotels and restaurants employ part-time or temporary workers which are often migrants or people who are not adequately aware of the social and cultural patterns of the United Kingdom or the customers of such organisations. It can be seen that most of the fast food chains such as McDonald’s, KFC and even smaller scale hotels and other restaurants are employing part-time workers from foreign nationalities in order to reduce their employee cost or due to the lack of non-availability of local born employees. These employees may not be able to fully understand and comprehend their social and cultural patterns and behaviour of the customers who are mainly the local Citizens of the United Kingdom. In such conditions the management of such workforce could become difficult in terms of improving the motivation to work and managing them in terms of groups. Since the employees are coming from different social and cultural backgrounds, their perceptions towards work, their psychology and their motivation levels could be different and integrating them into a single team in order to perform may also become difficult.

Introduction to the organisation and issues

The organisation chosen for the present study is the McDonald’s store in West London where the author has worked on a part-time basis for a short period of time. During the employment of the author has not is that most of the employees working for the store are coming from the migrant community or were temporary workers and the different social and cultural backgrounds due to the different nationalities. During the initial stages of work the author himself faced a lot of difficulties in comprehending the customer’s and the supervisor’s requirements related to work. The working culture in the United Kingdom is different from that of the working culture of the nationalities of the employees and from personal experience it has been found that two important problems are related to the psychology and motivation levels of the part-time and temporary workers to the organisation and the difficulty in managing multicultural groups and teams. McDonald’s employee a large number of part-time and temporary workers and due to the lack of availability of trained or student a qualified human resources is forced to employ individuals from different nationalities who come to the United Kingdom in search for work or studies. During the period of employment, the author has not is that McDonald’s store in West London almost solely relied on employees from Asian and African countries at their store level. With respect to the higher-level management from the supervisor upwards, the employees were local born citizens and were adapted to the working conditions and work culture of the United Kingdom. The management of the company expected the employees to understand the social, psychological and cultural behaviour and patterns of the customers of the store who were once again the United Kingdom citizens.

Two main issues concerning management of employees of McDonald’s is evaluated in this report mainly with related to the psychological conditions and the motivation levels of migrant employees and the management of multicultural groups and teams. Although the report is based on author’s personal experience in working with McDonalds, an evaluation of the human resources and organisational behaviour on have helped in the understanding of the issues concerned. On this basis a thorough analysis of the problems and issues is undertaken using the theories and concepts with respect to organisational behaviour and human resources management and the report provides certain recommendations particularly focused on the management of McDonald’s and mainly to improve the organisational behaviour practices.

Analysis of issues

Temporary / part time worker psychology, motivation and commtiment

The first issue concerning the employees working in the store of McDonald’s is related to the work culture and psychology of the employees and the motivation level of the part-time and temporary workers to the organisation. Research studies conducted by Canen and Canen, (2001) have suggested that due to social and cultural differences, employees might be time to assimilate to the foreign or new cultural situation and training based on cultural aspects is a requirement to integrate them to the workforce. Individuals who are coming to the United Kingdom in search for work often find it difficult to integrate the workforce and understand the requirements of the customers. With respect to McDonald’s most of the employees at the store level are part-time or temporary workers and during the initial stages of their employment often find it difficult to adjust to the working conditions and properly interpret and provide for the requirements and needs of customers. Although the language and social situation is an important consideration, according to Griffin, (2010) the working culture and the differences is an important issue to be addressed by the organisation. Several researchers have analysed the social and cultural differences of individuals coming from different nationalities and the research conducted by Gerstl-Pepin and Hasazi, (2006) based on Hofstede’s theories of cultural and social differences indicate that individualism is a major consideration. United Kingdom is considered as an individualist nation but most of the employees who work at the store level of McDonald’s are coming from Asian and African countries who are having collectivist behaviour (Finestone and Snyman, 2005).

According to another research study by Canen and Canen, (2002) who analysed the psychology of part-time and temporary workers have found that most of these employees considered their initial employment and at such organisations such as McDonald’s etc. to be of a temporary stopgap adjustment or arrangement before they find more serious and proper work which are related to their background, experience and education levels. According to Badhesha, Schmidtke, Cummings and Moore, (2008) the individuals who are coming to foreign nationalities in search for work often take up temporary positions in any organisation in order to sustain their life and in search for a proper long-term employment.

When analysing the different theories related to motivation and employee commitment, it can be seen that Vroom’s expectancy theory of motivation can be applied to analyse the characteristics of employees taking a temporary jobs at McDonald’s. According to the expectancy theory of motivation, the human beings make their choices based on subjective rationalisation. Individuals do not always make the optimal decisions but they do make the decision that they believed to be optimal at the time they make them. Further Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory can also be considered in analysing the employee’s consideration of taking a temporary job while they are in search for better paying jobs. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs a lower level needed must be met before a higher level need would appear (Miller, Vandome and McBrewster, 2010).

 

Figure 1 – Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs concept

(Source – Miller, Vandome and McBrewster, 2010, page 49)

According to the theory, an individual’s physical safety and economic security which is the second order need needs to be satisfied before they move on to social belonging which is the acceptance and becoming part of a group and the esteem level needs which is the recognition from others. Most of employees are working on the ground level of the fast food chains are not considering their work as a permanent opportunity as they are almost often in the search for better positions based on their previous experience in education. This can be analysed based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory were the individuals initially would like to satisfy their economic security and safety by taking a low paid employment when they come to look for work in the United Kingdom. Further the aspirations of the employee and the needs of the employee moves up the ladder of the need hierarchy and they would be looking out for jobs which provides them with the social and esteem level needs.

The author himself have found that most of the employees working at the McDonald’s store as higher levels of prior experience and education in different areas and are often in search for work on a permanent basis in better paying jobs. Hence their psychology is to add this to the existing condition and their motivation towards the organisation is very minimal. Most of the employees do not have high levels of commitment and their retention is a problem for the management. Once they find suitable employment in other areas, they leave the work at McDonald’s and the company is constantly recruiting new employees. This constant level of recruitment of temporary and part-time workers is exerting a strain on the management and the performance of the store. Due to the constant change of staff, there is a need for training those employees on a constant basis and the management is having issues with related to the lesser motivation and commitment levels of the employees to the work. One another factor with related to the psychology and motivation of the part-time or temporary migrant workers is the social status level or the stigma (Goldberg, 1994), associated with jobs that organisations such as McDonald’s and other fast food establishments. Due to the perception of the employees about the lower social status of these kinds of jobs, they are almost all the time in search for better employment opportunities and the retention rate of the organisation is mainly based on the availability of better job prospects for the current employees.

Management of multicultural groups and teams

Another important area for concern of the management of McDonald’s is integrating the employees coming from different social and cultural backgrounds into working groups and teams who can perform effectively. According to Wildersmuth and Gray, (2005) employees or individuals from different social and cultural situation will have difficulty in integrating together and their performance at work would depend on the levels of integration on a team level. The store level staff of McDonald’s needs to be integrated as a team and they should also be able to understand each other in order to function effectively.

 

Figure 2 – Hofstede’s cultural framework

(Source – Adapted from Singh, 2009, page 39)

According to Hofstede’s cultural framework individualism refers to the extent to which people choose their own affiliations and stand up for themselves, whereas collectivism stresses human interdependence (Singh, 2009). With respect to uncertainty avoidance, individuals from high uncertain avoidance cultures expect clear procedures and try to avoid conflict. The power distance indicates the formality of the working relationship. The masculinity femininity characteristics indicate the collaboration between the employees and the work life balance (Singh, 2009).

During the employment of the author with the organisation it has been analysed that due to the different cultural backgrounds from which the individuals come from there is a tendency for the employees to group into homogenous bunches. In other words employs coming from same social and cultural background or nationality would form their own groups and they are not able to integrate into a single homogenous group which is able to perform efficiently. Due to such differentiation in integration, tensions and conflicts arise between groups and individuals from different cultural, social and national differences. Such kind of conflicts and tensions within the store level staff of McDonald’s even though not visible to the outsider it was a source of permanent non-performance from the part of the store level staff. According to Parhizgar, (2002) it is necessary for the proper understanding of the internal customers of an organisation in order to function effectively. The internal customers of an organisation would be the employees working in different departments or performing different job functions which need a level of understanding of the other employees and their concerns. Only when there is a proper integration of the team, the organisation can perform effectively. Particularly in the case of McDonald’s where the store employs individuals from different social and cultural backgrounds, integrating them to a single thing has become one of the important priorities of the supervisors and the management. In some situations it has been noticed that due to the grouping of the employees within the store, there were often tensions and conflicts mainly because of the improper understanding of other employees.


Recommendations for improvement

Based on the personal experience and the further analysis conducted based on organisational behaviour and human resources management, the author has developed the following recommendations in order to solve the two particular issues which are related to the social and cultural differences of the employees within themselves and within the much larger environment. One primary concern is the cultural and social differences within the employees which need to be tackled by providing training based on multiculturalism and installing in the employees the required levels of understanding of the employees from different social and cultural backgrounds. According to Griffin, (2010), organisations with high levels of multicultural employees are now taking up training based on understanding the social and cultural differences of their co-workers which has provided important efficiency and effectiveness and improve the performance levels. According to Canen and Canen, (2002) understanding and analysing the requirements of the internal customers of the organisation is an important aspect in creating a suitable working condition. Hence the recommendation to improve the understanding of the employees with each other is to provide training in the areas of social and cultural differences (diversity training) of the individuals coming from different backgrounds.

Another aspect of the part-time and temporary workers psychology and motivation because of the lower levels of social status and stigma associated with the job at the ground level employment in fast food chains such as McDonald’s is to provide them with opportunities for improvement and promotions within the same organisation. It has been analysed that many of the part-time and temporary workers are off on the lookout for better opportunities and if such employees are provided with opportunities to work in the same organisation and improve the working conditions, salary etc, their motivation and commitment levels to the organisation can be significantly improved. In order to do so it is necessary for the management to communicate with the employees about the opportunities within the organisation in terms of promotions and moving up the career ladder. As mentioned before most of the part-time and temporary workers who are migrants from different nationalities are having significant levels of experience and education and the organisation can tap this resource in order to improve the performance. Although in the initial stages these employees would need to work at the ground level and with the store level staff a proper communication of the opportunities of promotions within the organisation can provide them with a level of commitment and reduced levels of absenteeism and employee turnover.


Conclusions

Analysis of the working conditions, social and cultural differences of the part-time and temporary workforce of McDonald’s store in West London has been conducted in the present report. Since the report is concentrating on the human resources management and organisational behaviour issues, the focus was on the social and cultural differences of the employees working at the ground level or the store level of the organisation. Mainly because of the differences in the social and cultural behaviour and patterns of the individuals coming from different nationalities, there is a source of constant conflict and tension which contributes to reduce levels of motivation and commitment to the organisation. Moreover the part-time and temporary workforce who is having significantly higher levels of experience and education are constantly endeavouring for better working conditions and the employee turnover and absenteeism is high. Due to the social and cultural differences the employees are also not able to correctly understand the requirements of customers which is an important consideration in the case of the hospitality industry because it is the employees who are able to provide the service and satisfaction levels to the customers. In order to alleviate these issues at the ground level of McDonald’s, the recommendations has been to provide training to the employees on multiculturalism which could install them with the necessary characteristics of understanding the social and cultural behaviour of their co-workers, providing them with a much better cohesion within the groups and reduce the constant conflicts and tensions. In order to improve the retention levels of the employees, it is necessary for the management to communicate about the potential opportunities for them in terms of promotions and salaries and provide them with a career path within the same organisation.

References

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  7. Griffin, R. W., (2010), “Management”, 10th Edition Cengage Learning publications
  8. Miller, F. P., Vandome, A. F. and McBrewster, J., (2010), “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”, Alphas cript Publishing
  9. Parhizgar, K. D., (2002), “Multicultural behavior and global business environments”, 2nd edition, Routledge publications
  10. Singh, K., (2009), “Organizational Behaviour: Text and Cases”, Pearson Education India
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  12. Wilson, L. A. J., (2010) “When in Britain, do as the British do: if anyone knows what that means: Multiculturalism in a “British” university business school”, Multicultural Education & Technology Journal, Volume 4 Issue 4, Pages 220 – 233

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