Global restaurant chain McDonald’s commissioned ETS in 2014 to devise and run a new employee engagement survey. This was to be rolled out to its 85,000 UK employees across its offices and some 1,200 restaurants around the country.
McDonald’s had historically run an employee satisfaction survey but wanted to move to one that was more employee engagement-focused. This would form part of a large business turnaround plan for McDonald’s, which could only be delivered through engaged people.
Meeta Zakharia, Corporate HR Officer at McDonald’s Restaurants, explains:
“We recognised that a great employee experience is about far more than just employee satisfaction, it is about engagement. Whilst satisfied employees may stay with us and do a satisfactory job, engaged employees who connect with our brand are exemplary. They are great for business, meaning lower employee turnover, higher sales and, ultimately, they help to deliver a great experience for our customers!”
It was important that the survey be relevant, easily accessible and quick to complete for all of its employees, particularly those working in the restaurants.
McDonald’s also wanted survey technology that featured more sophisticated and flexible reporting capability including the ability to generate ‘local’ reports for managers. This hadn’t been possible with the previous survey platform they’d used. Meeta Zakharia, comments:
“We were looking for a provider who understood our challenges and appreciated the engagement journey that we wanted to embark on. We felt that ETS fitted the bill. It was also attractive that they have a large database of information from similar profile, large retailers. This external benchmark comparison was a bonus for us and wasn’t something we’d benefited from before.”
Our business psychologists collaborated closely with McDonald’s to design the survey. This involved first carrying out a review of their previous questionnaire to establish the relevance of historical questions and decide which to re-word or remove.
From here, we suggested new questions needed and then devised an Engagement Index, which would feature those questions most impacting upon engagement for McDonald’s employees.
The survey we created was to be run twice annually – in March and September – and was to be accessed by employees and Franchisees online.
To make it easy for restaurant-based employees to participate, McDonald’s placed PCs or tablets in restaurant ‘crew rooms’ enabling people to complete the survey during break times. Employees could gain access to the survey either via an email link they’re sent or by scanning a QR code and completing it on their mobile phone.
To ensure that the survey measured the right areas and was highly relevant for all employees, McDonald’s has three versions of the questionnaire; for crew (restaurant staff), restaurant managers and office-based employees.
One of the biggest challenges we faced in developing the survey technology regarded access levels for users due to the complexity of McDonald’s people hierarchy. The hierarchy is different for their corporate division, owned restaurants and franchised restaurants and this made granting levels of access to the survey reporting modules very tricky and nuanced to protect data security.
We created a reporting dashboard for McDonald’s that allowed line managers to access their team’s aggregated results to explore trends and issues at a local level. Managers could also log into the dashboard whilst the survey was live to see the latest response rates and to view reports from previous survey cycles.
We’ve worked at length with McDonald’s to analyse their previous survey results. This has included looking at engagement data in top-performing restaurants to see what lessons can be shared. We also explored other demographic data splits to identify important trends and have mapped survey questions to McDonald’s people strategy.
Meeta Zakharia describes how the business is using employee survey results:
“We use the survey results as a starting point for having honest conversations with our employees. At a local level, survey insights coupled with feedback from our crew and managers help determine the three or four commitments that restaurant teams will focus on to drive improved engagement.”
“At a corporate level, the survey gives us a good indication as to how people feel about our strategic vision and, specifically, about our leadership. The results provide a good platform for us to explore further across the different hierarchal layers, and then agree set of business-level actions.”
Like many businesses, retention of staff is a major focus for McDonald’s, and one way in which they’ve been using the survey data is to understand how engagement impacts upon intention to stay and length of service. Their aim, ultimately, is that they can use data to engage their people better and keep them in the business for longer.
Meeta Zakharia comments on working in partnership with ETS:
“ETS has been integral in our move away from measuring employee satisfaction to engagement. This change has required a mind-set shift across the business and ETS has worked closely with us over the last two years to guide and support us.”
“The analysis we’ve had from ETS has also been really insightful, enabling us to link engagement patterns with business metrics. This is powerful and really helps to ‘sell’ the value of having an engaged workforce to our Franchisees.”