Why do companies get into the business of offering financial advice to their employees? Is it paternalism? Some need to try to fix everyone? Whatever the case may be, the gesture often goes horribly wrong.
The latest example of why not to offer such advice comes to us from McDonald’s.
McDonald’s, it seems, decided to beef up its “McResources Line” with helpful holiday tips.
Among them were a series of steps workers could take that came under the title, “Digging Out From Holiday Debt.”
Some of the tips weren’t too bad. For example, under the heading, “Get the big picture,” employees were advised to “gather all of your holiday bills and make a list of what you owe. Beside each credit card bill, write down the interest rate and minimum amount due. Once you have the big picture you can come up with a strategy to start paying.”
Where they got into trouble was the advice given under the heading, “Tightening your belt.”
Almost no one wants someone else to tell them they need to spend less money. But how about this suggestion?
“On a short term basis, do whatever it takes to dig out from your holiday debt. You may want to consider returning some of your unopened purchases that may not seem as appealing as they did. Selling some of your unwanted possessions on eBay or Craigslist could bring in some quick cash. Consider bringing a brown bag lunch and skipping the takeout, renting free videos from the library, or giving up your gym membership. You might also consider a temporary part time job to dig out of debt quickly.”
McDonald’s and other fast-food workers and their supporters have been staging protests across the country in the past year to call attention to the struggles of living on or close to the federal minimum wage.