With fast-food visits down globally by 50%, why does maintaining employee relations matter, asks GlobalData

Frontline workers of essential foodservice operators in the US have received minimal ‘reward schemes’ for attending work amid the COVID-19 outbreak. These companies should be wary of what effects misjudgments like these could mean.Public perception is more relevant in today’s digital age than ever before, and with 50% of global consumers having stopped all visits to Fast-food/casual restaurants, and a further 25% visiting less often*, respective operators must be careful to uphold their reputation among volatile times, says GlobalData.

Carmen Bryan, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Workers that used to be marginalized now have a platform to speak up about their experiences, which can create real change in an industry. When cases such as Wendy’s earlier this week, which reportedly claimed to offer its front-line staff candy as a reward for working during COVID-19, make enough noise online, it can impact a company’s bottom line, investor confidence and even lead to employee strikes or consumer boycotting.”

This ties into having an adaptable and reactive business model. Foodservice operators need to adopt a modern and flexible approach to how they tackle any crisis, but particularly one on a global scale.

Bryan continues: “Maintaining employee morale is incredibly important in sustaining stable operations and quality services, as well as long-term expansion plans – after all, no one wants to work for a bad employer. In the months following COVID-19, the industry may find itself with fewer outlets and severely understaffed. Whilst employee positions will likely be filled quickly, time and resources will need to be set aside for the mass recruitment and training required. All of this will put additional pressures on operators who themselves will still be recovering from the fallout.”

It is an unprecedented and challenging time for foodservice, and operators may not have the capital to reimburse or reward their employees on a large scale, particularly as the short-term impacts of COVID-19 are harming their bottom line.

Bryan concludes: “Instances where CEOs have waived staff bonuses, such as the directors at The Restaurant Group (TRG), which was reported to have taken a 40% pay cut, creates a feeling of comradery in troubled times. Corporate responsibility can be tricky to tackle, however, consumers can always tell when a business is being truly sincere.”

*GlobalData Coronavirus (COVID-19) Tracker Consumer Survey – Weeks 2 – refers to fast-food and casual restaurants

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