The teens dread face-to-face interaction

By Mike Pomranz
Updated November 06, 2018
Credit: Photo by Ariel Skelley via Getty Images

Have you noticed the kid behind the counter at your local fast food joint isn’t as snooty as he used to be? Maybe he looks about 50 years older than he used to? No, you haven’t traveled through a time warp. The clichéd burger-flipping teenager is actually become less common, according to Bloomberg, and is being replaced by more senior citizens who are trying their hand at fast food jobs later in life.

The idea of fast food restaurants serving as place for teenagers to get their first work experience is ingrained in our collective conscious, and the thought that senior citizens would be taking over the industry might seem counterintuitive. But as Bloomberg explains, plenty of compelling reasons exists as to why older Americans actually make a lot more sense behind the counter at places like McDonald’s, which is one of the companies that openly admitted it was looking to hire more seniors.

Seniors really are perceived as being friendlier, creating a better experience for both customers and coworkers. Not only that, but senior citizens are also seen as more punctual. Overall, by hiring seniors, restaurants get decades of life experience for the same wage as they would hiring someone far younger.

And speaking of wages, seniors are often more accepting of the wage their getting. Whereas teens are probably dreaming big of earning more than the approximately $10 per hour fast food workers make, seniors typically don’t have similar expectations of working their way up the corporate ladder. They might just be looking for a way to supplement their retirement income or possibly even just looking for something to do. “It’s fun for a while, not getting up, not having to punch a clock, not having to get out of bed and grind every day,” Stevenson Williams, a formerly retired, 63-year-old manager of a Church’s Chicken, told Bloomberg. “But after working all your life, sitting around got old. There’s only so many trips to Walmart you can take. I just enjoy Church’s Chicken. I enjoy the atmosphere, I enjoy the people.”

Interestingly, Bloomberg also suggests that whereas teenagers “grew up online” and may dread the face-to-face interaction that comes with serving people in a restaurant setting, many seniors actually like that social interaction.

In general, the US Bureau of Labor Statistic’s data shows that the number of American ages 16 to 24 joining the workforce is actually declining, while the number of working people over the age of 65 is actually growing significantly more than any other age group.