The Worst Jobs To Work At McDonald's According To Employees

When you first think of McDonald's, you probably imagine those hot and crispy fries, the first bite into a juicy Big Mac, or a creamy spoonful of an Oreo McFlurry. What you probably don't think about is the chaos and hard work going on behind the scenes that ensures every person gets their food.

So, what is it really like working at McDonald's? Of course, the experiences people have when working at McDonald's can vary widely. A lot can depend on the employee's personality, coworkers, location, management — the list of factors goes on. 

But it's important to note that not all tasks in the McDonald's kitchen are built the same. In order to ensure you get your favorite meal toasty fresh and on time, there are several different jobs employees are assigned to behind the scenes, and some are worse than others. Again, everyone's different. Some people are more suited to certain tasks, while others might think they're torture.

But in this article, we've rounded up opinions from McDonald's employees about what the worst jobs are at the fast-food restaurant, and why they hate them so much.

Fry Station

Making golden, crispy french fries that are universally loved by just about every regular McDonald's customer on Earth is also the one job that is universally hated by most McDonald's employees. Dropping large servings of food into boiling hot vats of oil is understandably not the most comfortable position to be in. All across McDonaldland, employees have vented about their experiences at the fry station.

One former crew member lamented fryer duty on Quora. When you work fries, he said, "You're always busy, you get splashed with hot oil, the temperature is horrible, if you have any cuts or anything on your hands they get full of salt." He went on to say the fry grind is never ending, with customers' specific orders always putting you behind schedule. When customers ask for fries without salt, workers have to throw away an entire batch, clean all of the salt off of the equipment, then cook a fresh batch ... only to, now and again, see the customers adding extra salt on their own.

Several TikTokers have gone viral showing what it's like at the fry station at McDonald's, and how much it makes them want to quit. In one particular video, a commenter said, "I was working fries for my first day in the job and long story short I only worked one day."

The next time you bite into a crispy fry, just remember the pain and sacrifice that's been made for you to enjoy it.

Front Counter

Dealing with customers isn't for everyone. While some workers might find it easier being out of the hectic kitchen and speaking with customers, others absolutely hate it. McDonald's crew members tasked with the front counter are "the face of McDonald's," according to the job description. They need to serve customers with "good food, fast," while ensuring "they always walk away satisfied, with a smile on their face!"

Not all crew members share the same enthusiasm. One Redditor said his least favorite station is the front counter. "[...] you end up with a huge pile of responsibilities, and if anything goes wrong, guess who ends up being the punching bag." He went on to insinuate that management bugs you every five seconds if you aren't keeping up the pace they want.

But most workers that hate front counter are more concerned with customers. One McDonald's employee shared a TikTok listing the worst kinds of customers, including customers that don't know what they want, customers who order "hacked" menu items that don't exist, and of course, rude customers. "The worst is customers thinking its ok to belittle you cause they cant read a screen or just want to swear at you and then wonder why i wont take their order," says u/wildftw on Reddit.

Some workers might claim front counter is nice because you don't have to deal with burns in the kitchen, but u/LadyLuxLord disagrees: "The only burns I get on front counter are emotional ones." 

Back Booth/First Window

In the drive-thru back booth, a McDonald's crew member is tasked with taking orders, charging customers from their cars, cleaning trays, and doing other tasks like making condiment bags. Some employees enjoy the repetitiveness and comfort of the "pit" away from the chaos of the kitchen, like one TikToker who rated the station a 10/10. "This is where I'm most comfortable," he said.

Of course, for every person that likes a certain job, there are a hundred others that don't. One Redditor broke the downside of "pit" duty down plainly: "Isolated unless you're friends with kitchen workers, slow most of the time, and you're stuck in one spot for hours. Another Redditor hates how "insane managers get over drive thru times. Please, anyone who orders from McDonald's and gets a pretty sad/frustrated employee at the window, just know that they have five managers over their shoulder constantly telling them how s***** they are because they aren't shaving off 10 seconds from their time."

Gillian Watts, a former McDonald's worker, reminisced about working the first window during the winter in an article on Unwritten. She said every time you opened the window, snow would blast your face, clothes, and work area. "Then you were going over to work on dishwashing in ridiculously hot water. So, for 8 hours, you'd go back and forth between scalding hot water and freezing cold air."

Maybe the back booth isn't always the sanctuary some employees make it out to be.

Presenting/Second Window

The first window might have its problems, but the second window, also known as "presenting," is a whole other beast. Presenting, as the name suggests, consists of handing out food to customers in the drive-thru lane. Although it may sound simple from the outside, it is far from it. Besides dealing with customers, people in this position need to make teas, put lids on sodas, hand out finished bags of food, and more.

Several ex-employees on Reddit hate presenting. One poster wrote, "Worst is Drive Thru Present. Do I try and count the amount of BS complaints?" He went on to list several issues with the station: "Casual verbal abuse. Drunk morons. Moron morons. The list is never ending, and it's the bane of my existence."

Others in the same post seem to agree with him. Said one commenter, "Present is awkward when you're waiting on food an it's easy to get annoyed at customers at the window." Another going by u/Extincton said, "The worst about it by far is if you got a s***** drink machine that doesn't work half the time like mine does."

Presenting for the drive-thru window is a tough gig — and that's not even counting crazy drunk people climbing through the window to try to make their own food.


Ah, the grill. These absolute legends are responsible for cooking up all of the world-famous McDonald's items we have all come to know and love. Unfortunately, not all grillers are passionate about the job.

One Redditor hates the gig. "I really can't stand the grill," they wrote. "It gets so hot after working 8 hours on it. Literally, my hands are covered in sweat and when I angle my hands upwards, like half a cup of sweat will drip out of the gloves [...] I didn't expect to be working the grills for 8 hours where I"m dying of thirst and heat."

If the heat doesn't kill you, it'll definitely leave a scar or two. Redditor u/bc_1411 said, "Any chance I had of being a hand model ... went out the window when I learned grill. Scars for miles."

The grill station is also one of the centers of communication in a McDonald's kitchen, as well. Without good communication, the job can be hell. Several grill veterans have gone on record saying the job can be especially hard when other team members don't communicate effectively. Another manager said he constantly had to mediate fights between the grill team over miscommunications.

Yelling at your coworkers while dealing with burns doesn't sound like too much fun.


After food gets cooked up on the grill, the ingredients get sent over to the assembly table. The first person at this station, also known as the table initiator, is in charge of putting all of the ingredients together and making sure everything is perfectly timed to have an order ready hot and fresh. They need to pull out the right packages, attach receipts to orders, toast the buns, add sauces, and more. The assemblers finish putting the burgers and meals together and into the right boxes.

Some people love putting together these fast-paced puzzles. Redditor u/Covid_jab said their favorite station is "Assembly during a rush. It's actually so fun." But not everyone is built like u/Covid_jab. According to several different McDonald's employees, initiating is reserved for the most experienced workers because they need to move incredibly fast. If you're not up to speed, the assembly line can turn into a nightmare.

A Redditor known as u/xhbxvjnfgggg said, "Man, you must be good at [initiating] if you like it, when I get put on initiate and dress I want to cry lmao." Another Redditor said it's highly dependent on who you're working with as well. "I also hate initiating because if I don't have a good person with me on table, I'm doing 3x more work."

Our respect goes out to the hardworking initiators and assemblers that put our meals together even when it makes them want to cry.


We've seen how hectic the kitchen gets and how crazy dealing with customers can be, so cleaning the lobby must be better, right? Wrong. The lobby attendant is in charge of keeping both the interior and exterior of the restaurant clean, which is no easy task.

One crew member at McDonald's explains why lobby is the worst job at McDonald's on Quora: "[...] lobby sucks because you have to clean bathrooms, [...] take out trash and carry tea urns that have to weigh at least 50 pounds full. Plus sweep and mop, and if there are kids around, god have mercy on their souls. I dread whenever I hear a cup go PLOP on the ground."

Shift Manager Diana Yanez-Sanchez confirmed how brutal cleaning the bathrooms can get. "It's horrible. People act like they're animals." She went on to describe a horrific scene that's way too gross to describe on a food website. 

Other lobby workers shared other pains of the job, like repetitive, backbreaking cleaning tasks, dealing with headache-inducing cleaning chemicals, or cleaning the parking lot in the freezing cold.

Cleaning the Grills/Fryers

As you can probably imagine, the heavily used appliances that collectively grill up 550 million Big Macs every year need to be cleaned frequently, which means it's someone's job to do it.

Diana Yanez-Sanchez, a shift manager at McDonald's, lists "cleaning the grills" as the top job no one wants to do (via Quora). She goes on to explain that when they clean the grills, they turn them off, but don't let them cool down because it would take too long, which can lead to plenty of burns. After spraying water and soap, the reaction creates a smell that "gets stuck a little in your mouth and you could almost taste it." She said cleaning the fryers is another fantastic way to get burned.

In a viral TikTok, an employee showed how they clean the grills at the end of the day. The amount of gunk that builds up on the grill left people horrified. But what's more noticeable is the amount of elbow grease and energy the worker has to expend to deep scrub the burning hot grill clean.

The fryers are no joke, either. In a viral Reddit post, a new McDonald's worker deep cleaned the fryers for three hours. Although he was applauded by the community, it's apparent that it's not an easy job whatsoever.

Cleaning the ice cream machine

Yes, we've all heard the jokes about the ice cream machine always being broken. If you're a McFlurry lover, you've most likely been turned away at one point or another when you were told "The ice cream machine isn't working today," or something similar. But the truth is, most of the time the ice cream machines at McDonald's aren't actually broken — they just need to be cleaned. And if you knew what it takes to clean one of these bad boys, you might not complain so much about not getting your Oreo McFlurry.

According to a former McDonald's employee on Reddit, the process takes hours to complete. To do the ghastly job, first they have to empty all of the ice cream mixture into buckets, then take out the moving parts and sanitize them individually, then rinse out the inside with several buckets of hot water.

One TikToker who has since deleted the video went viral after sharing her experience cleaning the machine at her particular McDonald's. Inside of it, the rim of the machine was filled with old, dried, cakey ice cream mix that had hardened into a disgusting mess. She painstakingly scraped at the mess with a plastic spoon, narrating how disgusting it is along the way.

To be fair, many McDonald's employees commented on the video and claimed that her ice cream machine was a special case, and not all of them were as bad as hers. With that said, it would surprise us to see anybody lining up to clean a McDonald's ice cream machine.


Just about every business that operates machines, bathrooms, and other appliances needs team members whose jobs are solely focused on maintenance. For the McDonald's maintenance crew, the job doesn't take place during the hectic business hours, but during the graveyard shift.

According to a current employee via Indeed, the typical day (or night) for a maintenance person at McDonald's consists of replacing and cleaning bins, wiping down all of the chairs and tables, sweeping and mopping, cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen, and wiping the windows. Although it might not seem so hectic, the checklist is incredibly long for a single shift. "I still struggle to do all the tasks given to me at a quick pace," he said, while also commenting on how hard the overnight hours are.

Another Redditor said the job can get pretty high pressure once it's time for inspections, as well. But he says if you can handle that, as well as some occasional heavy lifting, it's not as bad as other stations at McDonald's.


It's pretty typical to hear complaints about how hard it is to be a normal shift worker at McDonald's, but what about the managers? Shift managers have a ton of responsibilities according to Mega Interview, including managing crew members, overseeing day-to-day operations, managing budgets and finances, maintaining health and safety standards, and handling administrative tasks, all while providing top-notch service to customers. Did we mention never-ending customer complaints? Because managers have to listen to those, too.

According to Tough Nickel, managers at McDonald's work incredibly hard. They are required to work on both weekends and holidays, as well as late nights. They are on their feet for incredibly long periods of time in an environment that can be "physically, mentally, and emotionally draining at times."

In a Reddit post, one aspiring manager asked the question straight up: "Is it worth being a manager?" One commenter left a simple answer: "No. -Manager for 4 years." Others backed him up, saying the extra dollar per hour really isn't worth the extra stress that comes with being a McDonald's manager.

Over on Quora, a chef named Sherin Kennedy said, "I have managed many restaurants from fine dining to fast food. MCD was the absolute worst for me." Although the crew member stations at McDonald's seem tough, being a manager doesn't seem like a walk in the park, either.