How McDonald's is supersizing engagement

'We have a 100% turnover rate worldwide – so if we can hold on to just 10 per cent, that's amazing for us'

How McDonald's is supersizing engagement

They may be better known for their Big Mac and their McFlurries, but at McDonald’s it’s not just the meals that’re getting the supersize treatment.

Their employee engagement platforms are going viral, and it’s all thanks to a new, innovative, human-centered approach, according to Dave Burchfield, McDonald’s global people strategy director, who will speaking at the upcoming HR Leaders Summit.

“The way in which we attract and retain our talent is worlds away from what it was just a couple of years ago,” he says. “For us, it’s all about connecting with new hires, staying with them through each stage of the employee lifecycle, and even staying in touch once they’ve left.”

A lot of people opt to work in the fast-food industry to support themselves through school or college – then once they graduate, they tend to leave. By staying in touch with these “Mc-Allums,” McDonald’s has the upper hand in embracing boomerang employees. 

McDonald’s alumni network

“We have an average of 100 per cent turnover around the globe,” says Burchfield. “That’s what a lot of people don’t realize. So if we can hold on to just 10 per cent of that number, whether that’s promoting people directly or having them come back after a career break, that’s amazing for us. Not to mention, it’s a pretty flexible role employees can return to. They have the choice of how many shifts they work – and when they work, which in today’s flex-obsessed market, is a huge win.”

Read more: McDonald’s looking to hire 20,000

It’s the culture of care that’s making a huge difference for McDonald's. In the war for talent, a focus on rewards and recognition, especially through digital means, is key to attraction, retention, and growth. Examining trends of nearly two million employees across the globe, Burchfield says he knows firsthand how important accessibility is for new hires – especially for Gen Z workers. As such, the fast food giant has been looking at holding all the information employees need in one, easy to use place.

“Our workers really need a portal that holds all the information they need to know,” he says. “Somewhere they could check their shifts, speak to colleagues, request days off, and upskill themselves too.”

L&D revamped post pandemic

There’s no denying the power of a good L&D scheme. In fact, according to a study from LinkedIn, 94 per cent of employees say they’d stay with an organization longer if they invested more in development. With the war for talent only heating up – employers risk losing out simply by forgoing internal training.

“Modernizing L&D has really taken off at McDonald's – I mean, we’re going from PDFs to TikToks,” says Burchfield. “Our development team looks at everything from building soft skills, understanding safety, combatting harassment, promoting anti-race bias, all the while remaining focused on delivering delicious, feel-good moments to our customers.”

Read more: McDonald’s serves up Workplace platform to workers

Looking ahead to what the future holds for development in a post-pandemic world, Burchfield says he believes it will centre around “crisis preparedness.” After all, if the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that it’s always a good idea to be prepared.

“We’ll be looking at how to train our employees to deal with the unexpected,” he says. “Whether that’s weather events or moments of unforeseen chaos, it’s important that our workers feel safe and knowledgeable about how to proceed. That’ll be one of the keys to out industry’s future growth.”

What can HR learn from McDonald’s?

For the wider HR sphere, Burchfield believes that leaders need to get ahead of tech adoption sooner rather than later. The pandemic acted as a catalyst for change in organizations, especially when it comes to digital tools. Now, he advises HR to keep up the momentum and continue to invest in new ways of working.

“Artificial intelligence and virtual reality will be big players upskilling our restaurant employees,” he says. “Where employee engagement is concerned, I think we’ll be seeing AI used more for employee training, scheduling and onboarding activities. With the pace at which technology is evolving, leaders can’t afford to rest on their laurels – it’s a case of getting ahead of the game before the game changes again.”

Burchfield will be speaking at our upcoming HR Leaders Summit – book your tickets here!

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