McDonald’s Fairhurst talks employee engagement and ROI

There are three things a business needs from its employees to run effectively, and three things an employee wants from the business.

Thu, 8 Jan 2015 | By Sarah MarquetThere are three things a business needs from its employees to run effectively, and three things an employee wants from the business.

Fuse the two and “that’s where you get the biggest return from people”, says David Fairhurst, McDonald’s new senior vice president, international HR and strategy.

Recently promoted from chief people officer of McDonald’s Europe, he spoke to Recruiter about his plans and his “fusion model”. Fairhurst will assume his new role on 1 May.

The model is one he developed in his current role and one that will form his approach to the new role.

He explains employees want three things from their employer: the “three Fs”.

These are: Family, to feel like they are part of a team or family; Flexibility, to have jobs that they can fit around their lives, not the other way around; and Future, a job that is not dead end but offers prospects, in which they can get education and training, and progress in the business.

In return, employers need three things – the “three Cs” – from their employees for the business to run effectively.

They are Commitment, an employee that is committed to the role; Competence, which is built through training and education; and Confidence, which comes from education.

It is not just role-specific education the fast food chain offers, Fairhurst said, it is everything from basic literacy and numeracy – which he said were huge barriers to confidence – to degree level courses.

Training that can lead to nationally recognised qualifications is offered to McDonald’s staff at each level of the career scale in 32 of the 39 European countries the restaurant has a presence in.

It started in the UK where about 10,000 apprenticeships are now offered a year, as well as a degree in hospitality management through Manchester Metropolitan University.

He said the area of business that had “largely not been optimised” was people, and management practices needed to move on to become more about staff engagement.

He believes the more skills given to staff, the greater the staff retention. He said when education was matched to training, the training was taken more seriously and therefore the business got the best return on its money.

For example, in the UK, around 90% of McDonald’s restaurant managers began their careers as “crew members” and worked their way up. In Poland more than 90% did the same; in Russia, 99%; and in the Slovak Republic, 100%.

As for his new role, Fairhurst said the challenge would be taking the inspiration and ideas he has had in Europe to the rest of the world but in turn, finding inspiration from things that are happening in the rest of the world and “leveraging” them here.

“One of the benefits is scale so if [I] get some really good insight that would make just 1% difference across that scale, it is a pretty big difference and that’s the dream of the job.”

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