McDonald’s secrets to retaining a young workforce

A workforce comprised primarily of high school-aged workers could be a nightmare to manage. Here’s how McDonald’s keeps them engaged – and excited.

A multigenerational workforce can be difficult for any organisation, let alone one where 50% of employees are 18 years old or younger. McDonald’s, however, chooses to view this not as a challenge, but as an opportunity – in fact, 65% of its senior leaders started their career path as an entry-level staff member.
In order to maximise the energy and talents of its young workforce, McDonald’s prides itself on an employee value proposition (EVP) centered on a robust reward and recognition structure.
This takes many forms, including:
  • An annual National Hiring Day, where it welcomes applicants to its restaurants to learn about opportunities and hires thousands of new candidates
  • An employee of the month award
  • An outstanding restaurant manager award
  • A Ray Kroc award given to an elite number of top performers and a chance to discuss local and regional concerns with senior management
“It’s a chance to connect with top performers, get a sense of their view on things, and talk about the business,” said Chief People Officer Ken Jillard.
Some of the changes resulting from these meetings include a switch from “functional, pretty bland” uniforms to Lululemon-inspired outfits, as well as more liberal policies regarding tattoos.
Of course, no youth outreach would be complete without a social media component. The company is about to unveil a new smartphone app called “MyMcD,” which will showcase new products and promotions, highlight top-performing employees and restaurants, and allow workers to send feedback to the organisation.
“I know with my kids, I can pick up the phone and call them, but they won’t answer. If I send an email, I might hear back in a week or two. But if I text them, I get a response in about ten seconds,” said Jillard. “It’s bizarre to me, but I knew that if you want to keep in touch with young people, you have to figure out how they talk.”

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