McDonald's Is Increasing Its Tuition Benefit for Employees in 2018

In a competitive labor market, employees demand more than a paycheck. They also seek jobs that provide advancement opportunities and personal fulfillment. Working in McDonald's retail locations has long been known as one of America's typical first jobs. McDonald's also wants its retail jobs to be known as America's best first job.

Without question, working at McDonald's provides valuable customer service and business experience. Keeping up with lunchtime and dinnertime rushes also teaches employees how to handle time pressure and juggle multiple tasks. In addition to learning these key job skills, McDonald's also wants to provide its employees with educational assistance, in an effort to help them gain long-term career success.

Since 2015, McDonald's has offered tuition benefits to its restaurant employees, including both shift workers and managers. This benefit attracts quality workers to jobs at McDonald's, as well as providing the fast food giant with public relations goodwill. In April 2018, McDonald's tripled its tuition benefits, providing workers with substantial assistance in advancing their job skills. McDonald's President and CEO Steve Easterbrook released a statement underscoring the company's commitment to bettering communities and the lives of its employees. "By offering restaurant employees more opportunities to further their education and pursue their career aspirations, we are helping them find their full potential, whether that's at McDonald's or elsewhere."

The Archways to Opportunity program has been popular amongst McDonald's employees. Many younger employees work part-time at McDonald's while attending school, making the program particularly advantageous. Receiving both the tuition benefit and a weekly paycheck makes working at McDonald's one of the best options for many college students. Older employees also like the benefit. Many wish to update their skills to become more competitive in the job market. Those with their sights set on advancing within the McDonald's organization are able to gain both the experience and education needed for senior roles.

T.V. commercials have popularized the program. They show a corporate culture where McDonald's employees are encouraged by management and peers to grow through educational opportunities. Employees feel encouraged by each other's success, creating a positive atmosphere where personal growth and striving to meet one's potential are valued.

The Archways to Opportunity program expansion increases both the amount of tuition assistance each employee can receive and the number of employees who qualify. Under the old program terms, employees were eligible for up to $700 per year in tuition assistance. On May 1st, 2018, that number increased to $2,500 for crew members and $3,000 for managers. Weekly shift minimums also decreased from 20 hours to 15 hours. Employees are now eligible after 90 days of service instead of nine months. The decreased eligibility standards increase the number of qualified employees from 16,000 to over 400,000.

The decreased tenure requirement can be a particularly good deal for college students working at McDonald's over the summer. With a 90-day eligibility period, students who work from May to September can earn the benefit. The program also includes benefits for family members.

McDonald's has earmarked $150 million over the next five years for the program. In a statement, the company said that the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act acted as an impetus for the program's expansion. The act reduced corporate taxes from 35 percent to 21 percent in order to stimulate economic growth. Companies are encouraged to share tax savings with employees, which then helps the broader economy expand. The tuition assistance program is one way McDonald's is sharing the tax cut's benefits with its employees.

The program applies to all employees of McDonald's corporate stores and participating independent franchisees. Employees can use the program for tuition at local community colleges, vocational schools, and 4-year colleges and universities. Additionally, the Archways to Opportunity program provides assistance with improving English language skills and for adult students who need to earn a high school diploma.

Many companies have increased employee benefit programs after the 2017 tax cuts. With significant tax savings across every business sector, employees are able to benefit from more generous compensation packages and bonuses as well. When employees are able to spend more on education, healthcare, and retirement benefits, their well-being increases along with the broader economic benefits.

Most fast food employees intend to advance their careers, either by promotion within the company or by gaining the experience and education they need to qualify for higher-paying positions elsewhere. While the customer service, organization, and business skills gained at America's best first job are beneficial, most McDonald's workers will eventually move on to different occupations.

In the modern economy, education is as important as experience. By providing its employees with educational funding, McDonald's creates jobs that provide more than a paycheck. They also provide crucial benefits that employees need to grow and advance throughout their lives.

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