Employees often battle it out to get the highest sales numbers or the best reviews, but at McDonald's, employees are fighting it out for another title: to be the oldest employee.
Earlier this month, the British newspaper, The Sun, claimed 88-year-old Bill Dudley of North Wales, a great-grandfather and World War II veteran, was the fast food chain's oldest worker in the world. But another McWorker, at age 92, appears to have stolen his crown.
Sara Dappen, who was 20 years old when the McDonald brothers set up their first restaurant, has worked part-time at a McDonald's in Story City, Iowa, for five years. "I thought it was more interesting to keep walking around here than walking up and down the street," she told the local CBS affiliate, KCCI. "This keeps me from sitting."
Her 22-year-old co-worker, Kiele Williams, told AOL Jobs that it was "definitely interesting" working with someone 70 years her senior. "She talks about her history," she said, "and keeps us on our toes about our manners."
Working at McDonald's, like other burger-flipping chains, has traditionally been a job for the young -- after-school and over summers. But job market realities have pushed up the average age of fast food workers to 28, and for women, who make up two-thirds of the industry, to over 32, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
McDonald's doesn't have any data on the demographics of its workforce specifically, because 90 percent of its U.S. restaurants are run by franchisees. But in an email, McDonald's spokeswoman Danya Proud said: "We pride ourselves on there being an opportunity for everyone under the arches, and of course, this is inclusive of seniors."
And older employees are particularly valuable to the fast-food monolith. A 2009 survey of 400 McDonald's in the United Kingdom by Lancaster University Management School found that customer satisfaction levels were 20 percent higher at restaurants that employed staff past the age of 60.
That could be because of their experience, work ethic, seasoned customer-service skills, and lower rates of turnover. Or it could be their influence on the rest of the staff -- like reminding them of their "pleases" and "thank yous."
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92-Year-Old Worker Sets Record At McDonald's
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