Not everyone can work remotely, and that holds true for most employees at the fast food chain, McDonald’s too. In these unprecedented times when employees are working from home, McDonald’s has introduced a relevant policy for its restaurant management teams and the frontline crew in the West and South of the country. The objective is to ensure that they remain engaged and utilise this time to upskill themselves for a strong comeback, as soon as normalcy resumes.
Engagement at McDonald’s is happening at three levels — for the frontline crew members at the restaurant, the managers at these restaurants and also for those working in the corporate offices. The organisation has modified its existing learning management system (LMS) to suit the learning and engagement needs of its employees at all these levels.
The goal was to engage them and make sure their career growth is not hampered
Training the crew members
The workforce consists of mostly youngsters and the organisation has been trying to provide engaging and gainful learning for them. As the maximum learning usually takes place face to face, led by trainers, it is a huge challenge to continue the training in the present conditions, and get the learners to fulfil all the steps in terms of their career growth. Therefore, instead of the usual physical try-out, the programme includes quizzes at the end of every session.
According to Seema Arora Nambiar, senior vice-president, menu, marketing and people resources, McDonald’s India, West and South, most of what the crew members do at the restaurant is physical work and most of the learning is on-the-job. The crew members learn all the hard skills associated with making and serving the food, which is provided face to face by their trainers. “The goal was to engage them and make sure their career growth is not hampered,” says Nambiar.
Each crew trainer is responsible for eight members, and for the crew the learning is around the products that they sell. For instance, if the topic of the day is French fries, then the module consists of everything beginning from the type of potatoes used, the farms they are sourced from, the way they are cooked and the manner in which they are served.
It is easier to keep the younger cohort busy, but for the employees at the office the needs are different, which is why we focussed on communication
After a module is over, the trainer gets on a call with the crew and a series of quizzes are held on the topics learnt throughout the day. The quizzes are repeated in case a member fails to score above a certain mark.
There definitely some apprehensions regarding whether the frontline crew members would be willing to engage with the learning programme. However, turnout has been positive with over 75 per cent of the workforce logging in for online training in the first week itself.
Currently, more than 80 per cent of the crew members are using the learning opportunity provided by the Company. The remaining numbers consist of migrant workers who have been unable to log in due to technology shortage and connectivity issues.
Masterclasses for the trainers
For the crew trainers themselves, the Company organises masterclasses, which are led by the management team. For instance, if there is a class on hospitability, then the customer experience manager will conduct that class for the crew trainers and hold a recap session afterwards, to sum up the learning. Other topics include health, hygiene and safety.
Engaging employees at the corporate office
For these employees, the goal was to provide the right tools of communication and making sure that IT help for them was available around the clock. Nambiar mentions that since the employees at the offices consist of a slightly older age group, constant communication for them was necessary. “It is easier to keep the younger cohort busy, but for the employees at the office the needs are different, which is why we focussed on communication,” says Nambiar.
The mandate is that the functional heads will reach out to their team members once every three days and the leadership team will communicate with the respective heads once every week. In addition, the organisation has decided to rely on video calls rather than voice calls. As Nambiar puts it, being visible to one’s colleagues gives people a reason to dress up for a call and inculcate some discipline in their daily routines; which is of utmost necessity while working from home. “We feel that the ability to get disciplined has been the biggest factor in engagement. Also, it just helps to see people’s faces”, explains Nambiar.
The corporate team has not been focussed on learning as much as the other two groups, due to the responsibilities of trying to keep the business afloat. However, there are a few positive and interesting things in the pipeline for the employees. “Going forward, we are trying to design guides on how to work and manage time efficiently while at home, and teaching them basic digital analytical skills,” reveals Nambiar.