The Real Reason Your Local McDonald's May Have Reduced Hours

Restaurant workers have had a particularly difficult time performing their duties during the pandemic. According to Grub Street, one career waiter noted that in addition to all the previous uncertainties of working as part of a restaurant, staff now have to deal with even more uncertain wages, the high risk of contracting COVID-19, having to police diners' behavior, restaurant closures due to illness, and much more. Workers across the industry have felt the rippling effects of this work culture and the future appears grim. Forbes reports that as a result of deteriorating working conditions, restaurants have faced a harder time hiring new staff as people continue to quit their positions. Changing operations signal a shift in how people dine, including the rise of ghost kitchens.

Restaurants across the board have experienced this cultural shift, including fast food powerhouses. The Wall Street Journal reports that McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski now aims to stave off the negative impacts of a shifting workforce in the face of Omicron and other trends, like an increasingly diversified selection of niche restaurants. As a result of dwindling staff numbers compounded with other issues, McDonald's has had to take action that might disrupt some diners' restaurant experience.

A big change for McDonald's

CEO Chris Kempczinski has now devised a way to keep McDonald's locations operating at a high capacity despite staffing issues (via The Wall Street Journal). The restaurant's opening hours have now decreased by 10% across many U.S. locations compared to pre-pandemic hours. The staff losses have caused Kempczinski to reconsider the draw of working at the restaurant. He wants to offer more fun positions that aim to take care of workers, especially in light of recent events at chains like Starbucks, where employees are trying to unionize. The revamped hiring paradigm has the potential to keep McDonald's active and profitable.

Some changes to keep workers on board include securing COVID tests for workers to use at restaurants, in addition to revamping the HR structure of the company that could crack down on improper employee fraternizing. Kempczinski has also blamed the current administration for efforts like the vaccine mandate that have made staffing harder, while stating that the government should oversee contact tracing at restaurants instead of private companies. These efforts complement the chain's meal collaborations with BTS and Travis Scott, which propelled the fast food brand's profits beyond pre-pandemic levels. However, locations across the U.S. might face reduced hours for the time being.