by Matt Barkett

January 4, 2019

Fries, yes. But straws? Better think twice.

A recent incident at a Florida McDonald’s restaurant gives a good example of what can happen when government intercedes into a societal issue, putting the company (and its employees) in the middle when left to implement policy that will enforce the ordinance.

Here’s the background. The City of St. Petersburg recently implemented a plan to reduce the use of plastic straws, starting with an edict for restaurants to only supply straws upon request and then later phasing straw usage out entirely.

This action was taken in the wake of recent calls for bans on plastic straws nationwide, being done in the interest of protecting the environment. Noble cause, but restauranteurs are left with the question: how do we implement this rule without compromising service or angering customers?

The lesson for companies put in these kinds of situations is that the only constant in today’s world is change. And managing change starts with helping employees on the front lines deal with the controversy that is often created by outside forces through no fault of their own.

Clearly this incident is the extreme and the alleged perpetrator will be charged for his actions, but helping employees think through situations they may face – and providing tools to help them navigate them if they escalate – is a must in today’s increasingly volatile environment.

Crisis preparedness is an increasingly important component of change management. If you’d like to discuss your changing workplace environment as it relates to preparing for potential crises like this one, please email me or call me at 216-241-3073.