imagesSince 2012, we’ve seen the rising tide of fast food workers across the country protesting for higher wages. In fact, they’re asking for $15/hour instead of the $8.74 average wage they currently earn. So, what’s an employer to do and why are these employees targeting them?

The short answer is CULTURE. (Good or bad, every organization has one!)

Years ago, I was like so many other patrons who frequented McDonalds on a regular basis; driven by the fact that the food was good, it was cheap and fast – in other words, it met all my criteria. Today, it’s just cheap and fast and the service is almost always terrible. Employees tend to be too busy to focus on customer service and in some cases are even downright rude and condescending.

Whether you’re talking about the protests at McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, KFC, Domino’s and many other fast food restaurants seeking an increase in minimum wage, workers staging a union organizing campaign, filing an EEOC complaint or hiring an attorney to file suit against their employer, they all have one thing in common – employees looking for respect and dignity.

Now, contrast that with employees at Chick-fil-A and Zaxbys, similar fast food restaurants trying to compete in the high volume, low margin world of fast food. Their employees are paid similar wages but have a completely different attitudes when it comes to their organizations. You don’t see them protesting, even though they are also making a “low” wage. These employees are engaged, they care about their appearance, the service they provide and if their customers are satisfied. So, what’s the difference?

In a word, the answer is CULTURE.

Culture creates both an emotional and physical connection between employees and their employer. Both Chick-fil-A and Zaxbys are masters at nurturing those connections by demonstrating they’re invested in their employees’ needs (stability/certainty, challenge, belonging, recognition, development, purpose). In return, employees demonstrate their investment in the organization – through performance and customer care.

Creating a winning culture is simple, but not simplistic. It takes discipline, clear focus, and committed leadership. Employees don’t protest, drive a union campaign or sue you because of what you did, they do those things because of how you make them FEEL!

How do you make your employees feel?

– Cindy

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