Employee Tardiness and Working Conditions in Burgers Hut

Research Paper (undergraduate), 2013

15 Pages, Grade: A



Abstract / Executive Summary

Introduction / Rationale
Problem statement

Literature Review
Evolution of Human Food Consumption
The boom of the Fast Food Industry
Labour sourcing in the Fast Food industry
Challenges faced by Fast Food employees


Findings and Analysis

Limitations and Further Research


Abstract / Executive Summary

This case study investigated the work-environment related reasons behind employee tardiness in a recently established fast food joint, ‘Burger’s Hut’. It was found, after observation sessions and interviews that late night work shifts and non-flexible leave scheduling were the main reasons for the problem. It is recommended that the Burger’s Hut develops a strict policy to prevent tardy employees before the problem lead to other withdrawal behaviors like absenteeism and turnover.

Introduction / Rationale

Burger’s Hut is a small fast-food outlet located in the heart of Dehiwala. Since its inception on December 2012, it has been popular for serving an unmatched menu and quality food at an affordable price, hence its slogan “Goodness in Every Bite”.

A team of 9, most of whom have worked on a similar setting before, help operate the business daily from 1pm to 12 midnight on a shift basis. Recently, it’s proprietor has noticed that tardy behavior of few employees has caused work disorientation leading to customer dissatisfaction and eventually loss of revenue.

There could be several reasons that cause tardiness. Since all of them could not be covered in a single research, it was decided to focus upon a subset of reasons that the management could address and rectify. The working conditions of employees are very much under the control of the management. Hence the purpose of the research became to investigate which work conditions if any that caused tardiness in the organisation.

The researcher will attempt to observe and speak to the employees of Burger’s Hut to determine why they report late to work. By combining the research results of previous studies and the findings of this research the researcher makes recommendations to the Burger’s Hut management on how to control the tardiness problem.

As this research only focuses on a small fast food outlet most of the findings will be more specific to the organisation. We will need more research on other similar outlets in the same industry to draw a generalized idea of the findings.

Problem statement

Which working conditions in Burgers Hut affect the tardiness of its employees?


To identify the factors that affect overall employee tardiness.

To determine the working conditions that affect tardiness of employees in Burgers Hut.

To provide recommendations to Burgers Hut on how to control tardiness.

Literature Review

Evolution of Human Food Consumption

The survival of early human settlements depended upon the ability to produce food to meet the need of the growing population. Most ancient civilizations like the Mesopotamians and Aztecs founded their settlements in the banks of great rivers like the Nile and Amazon. The availability of river water made the food production easier thus enabled the settlements to grow into great civilizations.

Global food consumption patterns have changed dramatically in recent years (Naska, 2006). One prominent trend has been the increasing consumption of fast food (Kearney, 2010). The fast food industry, originally conceived in Southern California during the 1940s, not only altered the eating habits of Americans, but also those in many other countries around the world, including Sri Lanka (Schlosser, 2001).

The boom of the Fast Food Industry

In the US alone, the fast food industry accounted to 190 billion in sales for the year 2012 and employs a workforce of over 4.6 million in close to 300,000 establishments (NAICS , 2013). Big players like the McDonalds and KFC are flourishing by catering to this growing demand (Kalman, 2012). The growth of McDonald’s in US is highlighted concisely by Schlosser in his literature, Fast Food Nation (2001) ,

“The McDonald’s Corporation has become a powerful symbol of America’s service economy, which is now responsible for 90 per cent of the country’s new jobs. In 1968, McDonald’s operated about one thousand restaurants. Today it has about thirty thousand restaurants worldwide and opens almost two thousand new ones each year. An estimated one out of every eight workers in the United States has at some point been employed by McDonald’s. The company annually hires about one million people, more than any other American organization, public or private.”

In Sri Lanka, KFC began operations in the year 1995 and has grown to operate 24 outlets in 2013 (Cargills (Ceylon) PLC : KFC, 2013). McDonalds already operates 6 outlets in Colombo and its suburbs.

New entrants, like the Burgers Hut, have to overcome a lot of challenges to be competitive with the big names (Avermaete et al., 2003). Consumers’ food purchase intentions are based on factors such as safety, freshness, storage, preparation, consumption, price, packaging, and place of purchase.(Grunert, 2005; Röhr et al., 2005). Fast food companies attempt valiantly to strike a balance between these factors to deliver the best product at the best price.

Labour sourcing in the Fast Food industry

The rate of growth of the fast food industry has opened up a huge demand for human labour. Statistics in the US indicate an average of 16-17 workers per fast food establishment (NAICS , 2013). Two of the major HR problems faced by the fast food multinationals(MNC) are a) sourcing cheap labour and b) high turnover (Royle, 2002).

Royle (2002) also reports a few ways the MNCs use to overcome the above problems. The tasks carried out by a fast food worker is Taylorised, or broken down into simplified, routine and systematic jobs of production in which the workers are allocated to specialize in. Taylorism allows low/unskilled labour to be hired and get the new hires up to speed with little or no training. It also eases in finding replacement after a worker leaves the organisation.

Fast food work is one of the least paid jobs in the US and has no viable career progression path to the worker (Schlosser, 2001). Statistics show that many workers quit 6 months into the job and most before a year. Knowing this, the MNCs prefer hiring young adults. A study in 1994 showed that nearly 70% of fast food workers were 20 years or older(Van Giezen, 1994). Workers in this age category have low wage expectations and no long term plan to be in the industry. The MNCs target this group in their CSR projects to attract and source their future employees.

Challenges faced by Fast Food employees

Though might be fair in the MNC perspective, the rights of the actual worker is often overlooked or if brought to the limelight, quickly silenced by the MNC itself(Drapp, 1998; Colton, 1998; Bernstein, 1998). Most grievances raised by the fast food workers are understaffed shifts, unpredictable schedules, late night work, wage inequalities, routinized work and tyrannical supervision (Royle, 2002).

Routinization has made fast-food work be considered unskilled labour, on the contrary, to perform well it requires dexterity, endurance and capacity to keep many things mind at once, particularly to those who serve food and interact with the customers. There is substantial ‘emotional labour’ involved during busy periods which makes work hard and exhausting (Leidner,1993).

A common complaint made by fast food workers is that scheduling of work times and time off is unfair and unpredictable. The situation aggravates when the worker is asked to skip his/her time off because of peak season or to make up for an unplanned absence.

“Off-the-clock work” is another problem faced by fast food workers (Tannock, 2001), ie. many workers perform labour, often in small segments of time, for which they are not paid. For example, working through their break times, ‘helping out’ co-workers before or after their own shifts or doing cleanup work after a shift ends.

Most fast food outlets including Burgers Hut operate till late night and requires the crew to be functional throughout this period. Night work makes it mandatory for the subjects to stay awake and to perform duties, when their body is physiologically programmed to remain asleep (Horowitz and Tanigawa, 2002). It also retards performance, elevates occupational stress and tiredness thus leading to deteriorating quality in family and social life (Fujino et al. 2001; Pati & Chandrawanshi 2001; Suzuki et al. 2004)

Employee Tardiness

Employee Tardiness can be described as arriving late to work or leaving before the end of the shift (Shafritz, 1980). It is a problem found in many organizations. It has implications for the employee as well as for the organization as a whole. (Dishon-Berkovits, M, & Koslowsky, M 2002).

Tardiness seems to be a less researched topic. Analysing organizational behavior literature between 1990-92 (Blau, Linnehan, Brooks & Hoover,1993) revealed 23 studies of turnover,13 of absenteeism, and none of tardiness. For this reason researcher believes that researching more on this will enable to derive new knowledge and validate previous research.

Effects of Tardiness

Employee tardiness leads to substantial financial costs (Blau, 1994; Steers & Rhodes, 1984). It causes loss of productivity of the late employee and loss of productivity of fellow workers(Groeneveld & Shain, 1985). When working to make up for their co workers who are late the fellow workers experience a deterioration of their morale and work motivation (Cascio, 1987; Jamal, 1984).

Most researchers have seen tardiness as an aspect of withdrawal behavior (Hanisch & Hulin, 1990). They see tardiness as correlated with absenteeism which ultimately paves way to employee turnover. Also a tardy employee’s behavior may be viewed as negligence (disrespect) toward the organization and its values (Bolin & Heatherley, 2001)

Employers may or may not record late arrival in personal files of employees. Absences, on the other hand, is generally recorded in an individual's file. Additionally, lateness can often be made up on the

same day, and, therefore, not regarded as a less serious violation of organizational rules.(Dalton & Todor, 1982; Koslowsky, 1987).

However, Clegg (1983), Johns & Nicholson (1982) and Nicholson (1977) explain that tardiness should not be seen only as a predictor of withdrawal behavior or as an instance of job dissatisfaction. An employee arriving late to work does not necessarily mean that he is dissatisfied with the job or has plans to leave the organization soon.

Factors affecting Tardiness

Researchers with varied perspectives have introduced new variables that impact tardiness. One explains it with economic models; tardiness as a function of the interplay between time resources allocated to work and leisure (Allen, 1981; Leigh & Lust, 1988).

Work–family conflict is another cause of tardiness , especially for women and for younger couples (Blau, 1994; Gupta & Jenkins, 1983). Weather conditions (Muesser, 1953), health concerns and transportation problems have also been found to cause tardiness.

According to an article published on CNN.com by CareerBuilder, responses given by employees for question ‘What are the biggest causes of their tardiness?’ are, twenty-seven percent of workers blamed traffic; 10 percent pointed to getting their kids ready for school or day care; and 11 percent said falling back asleep. Another interesting statistic revealed was that 64 percent of employers said Monday was the most popular day for late arrivals.


Excerpt out of 15 pages


Employee Tardiness and Working Conditions in Burgers Hut
Graduate Diploma in Management
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
517 KB
Human Resourses, Employee Relationships, Fass Food, Burgers, Tardiness, Late Reporting to Work
Quote paper
Ruhaim Izmeth (Author), 2013, Employee Tardiness and Working Conditions in Burgers Hut, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/285101


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