McDonalds recently went on a hiring binge in the U.S., adding 62,000 employees to its roster. The hiring picture doesn’t look quite so rosy for Europe, where the fast food chain is drafting 7,000 touch-screen kiosks to handle cashiering duties.
Automation becomes more and more of an option as our technology advances continue to expand exponentially. And automation usually is used to replace low-end, low-skilled workers – like those in fast food restaurants. That’s an unfortunate truth. Automation becomes a viable option when the job it would replace becomes too expensive to the employer when using traditional means. That is, a worker. If the worker can be replaced at a reasonable cost with a machine or system that is reliable and in the end makes that operation more efficient and profitable, chances are the employer will take that option.
$15 an hour certainly pushes any number of fast food jobs into that range. The McDonald’s kiosks are simply a fast food version of ATMs. The list of what they don’t require is quite extensive. They don’t require scheduling, benefits, sick days, or even pay. They’re efficient, consistent, and while they might break down occasionally, they’ll never demand a vacation or time off. Oh, and no ObamaCare costs.
The hourly wage is only a small part of the equation. What really matters is productivity. And European workers are saddled with a mountain of work rules, union prerogatives, insurance and pension costs, benefit mandates, taxes, fees, extra days off and vacation time (by US standards) and a further grab bag of productivity-killing accoutremonts.
And, by American standards, they tend to be rude and lazy. (Except for American government workers, of course, who will cheerfully match the Brits, Frogs, and Italians on that front any day).
No wonder Micky D is training machines to ask if you’d like fries with that – in Europe today, and right here at home tomorrow. Obamacare won’t cover machines.