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What is a McJob?

A McJob refers to a low-paying, low-skill job, often in the fast-food industry, that offers little opportunity for advancement. The term, derived from McDonald's, symbolizes the reality of many service industry roles. But is this the whole picture of a McJob?
Garry Crystal
Garry Crystal

McJob is a term used to describe a low paid, no future job. The term is used in a derogatory manner to describe the type of job that is commonly associated with the service industry, a low paid position for which skills are not usually required and the turnover rate of staff is high. A lot of people take a McJob to help support themselves through college, or because the job is not stressful and does not require much brainpower. However, recent reports have claimed that people are now using the McJob as a starting point in a career. The McDonalds corporation has claimed that many people who started off working behind the counter in their stores have become managers or own their own franchises.

The word McJob first gained popularity after Douglas Coupland used it frequently in his 1991 book, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. Coupland used the word to describe the meaninglessness of the job: no future, low paid, low benefits, and without dignity. Every parent's greatest fear was to hear their child say the words, "Do you want fries with that?"

Some dictionaries include the term "McJob" though it has been deemed as outdated.
Some dictionaries include the term "McJob" though it has been deemed as outdated.

The word McJob is now part of the English language. It has its place in English dictionaries, but according to some, the term is now out of date. A recent independent study showed that working for a company such as McDonalds has a positive impact on young employees. It provides much needed job experience, improves people skills, and can lead to better career opportunities.

McJobs often don't have benefits for employees, including sick pay.
McJobs often don't have benefits for employees, including sick pay.

However, the word McJob cannot seem to escape its original meaning, no matter how much McDonalds wants it to. Though the Oxford English Dictionary planned to include the word McJob in the 1997 edition, they withdrew it through fear of legal reprisals from the company. As McDonalds often does when faced with bad publicity, they went on the attack and threatened lawsuits.

The term "McJob" is a term to describe jobs that are akin to working at a McDonald's.
The term "McJob" is a term to describe jobs that are akin to working at a McDonald's.

A recent variation on the word McJob is McOfficeJob. This describes low paid office jobs with no hope of promotion, such as those in call centers. Temporary jobs are often called McJobs simply because of the nature of the work. Employers sometimes keep a number of temporary staff on board because they do not have to pay them for holidays or sick leave. Many benefits that are available to permanent members of staff are not available to temporary staff.

A call center job may be considered a McJob.
A call center job may be considered a McJob.

Some psychologists claim that many workers can grow to have a McJob mentality. People who serve in these types of roles for a long enough period of time can become conditioned or brainwashed into loving the stress-free work. Fear of leaving the McJob and gaining a role with responsibility has left a number of people stuck in a McJob for many years. Psychologists have gone as far as to equate the number of stars on the worker's badge, signifying length of time with the company, with the extent of the brainwashing. It may not be too long before health guidelines are established for the temporary McJob worker.

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Discussion Comments

MuhannadJ

Why is a MC Job described as as unstimulating?

and what can a human resources manager do to increase the stimulation and interest of employees working in a McJob in the service sector?

abakhsh

How do you increase, as an HRM manager, the stimulation and interest of employees working in a ‘McJob’ in the service sector?

abakhsh

How can a ‘McJob’ (a generic term for a low paid service sector job and not just a counter assistant job in McDonald’s) be described as ‘unstimulating?'

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    • Some dictionaries include the term "McJob" though it has been deemed as outdated.
      By: Sebastian Crocker
      Some dictionaries include the term "McJob" though it has been deemed as outdated.
    • McJobs often don't have benefits for employees, including sick pay.
      By: jinga80
      McJobs often don't have benefits for employees, including sick pay.
    • The term "McJob" is a term to describe jobs that are akin to working at a McDonald's.
      By: Bro. Jeffrey Pioquinto, SJ
      The term "McJob" is a term to describe jobs that are akin to working at a McDonald's.
    • A call center job may be considered a McJob.
      By: diego cervo
      A call center job may be considered a McJob.
    • People who work at a McJob that doesn't meet their needs may experience stress and fatigue.
      By: Photographee.eu
      People who work at a McJob that doesn't meet their needs may experience stress and fatigue.