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Upskilling while breaking stereotypes: McDonald’s Hong Kong on its industry-first training programme and beyond

Upskilling while breaking stereotypes: McDonald’s Hong Kong on its industry-first training programme and beyond


In this exclusive, CPO Kevin Kam and COO Susanna Li talk us through the people-centric strategies to grow employees in the "McFamily".

McDonald’s Hong Kong has announced that its in-house training programme 'Professional Diploma in Management Development (QF Level 5)' has been accredited and recognised under the Hong Kong Qualifications Framework (HKQF) of the Hong Kong SAR Government.

This makes the restaurant group the first in the local F&B industry to offer its employees a programme where graduates would obtain a qualification at a level equivalent to that of a Bachelor’s Degree (QF Level 5).

Specially designed for the restaurant frontline senior management team, McDonald’s employees are eligible to enrol in the programme by progressing to the position of Restaurant General Manager (RGM) upon accumulating relevant experience. The programme is fully subsidised by McDonald’s, offering an opportunity for the RGMs to earn while studying to advance their qualifications relevant to this industry.

Kevin Kam, Chief People Officer, McDonald’s Hong Kong (pictured above on the left), shared with HRO's Tracy Chan that, through a recognised professional qualification, the company hopes to reshape the public's stereotyped perceptions towards its employees, bring employees a sense of accomplishment and belonging, as well as set new standards for the industry.

“The public might have a preconceived perception about McDonald's employees that they have very diversified education qualifications,” he said. “With the accreditation, we hope to reshape such stereotypes, affirming McDonald’s belief that everyone can succeed and attain professional qualification, regardless of their backgrounds and educational levels.”

A programme mixing theory and practicum

Spanning 30 months, the diploma programme covers restaurant management in seven modules, including business management, people development management, restaurant management, department management, customer experience management, food quality management, and shift management. The curriculum consists of both theory and practicum, followed by practical assessment at the end of each module to ensure that programme takers reach the standards outlined in the curriculum.

Speaking to HRO, Susanna Li, Chief Operations Officer, McDonald’s Hong Kong (pictured above on the right), gave credit to the immense efforts of the training, learning & development team into creating the learning modules, which not only equip the RGMs with the skills needed to run their restaurants, but also fulfil the requirements set by the HKQF.

"The biggest challenge is to ask our RGMs to squeeze time in their busy schedule to dedicate to this professional diploma programme in the first place," she said. "Having said that, once the first batch of RGMs attended the courses, they became the ambassadors of the programme as it opened their minds to business management and leadership, equipping them with skills to manage people and the restaurant more effectively and efficiently."

The first batch of 222 RGMs was celebrated for completing the programme and assessment at the 'McDonald’s Hong Kong Professional Diploma in Management Development (QF Level 5) Congregation' held on 31 July 2023.

Li continued: “Being a pioneer in the industry and launching a professionally recognised programme, McDonald's is poised to leverage this opportunity to inspire other industry players to enhance their workforce’s professionalism, fueling the overall development of the industry.”

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A people-centric philosophy to develop and engage employees

Talking about the challenges facing the industry, labour shortage is undoubtedly the biggest one, not just for the F&B industry, but also for Hong Kong as a whole. As the economy continues to recover, Li emphasised that the industry needs to focus on talent recruitment, development, and retention to capture the opportunities, in the meantime, dedicating resources to employee wellbeing and elevating the overall employee experience.

"This QF Level 5 accreditation is one of the most precious and exclusive employee experiences," she continued. "People can be hired, but talent can only be developed. Here at McDonald’s, we are dedicated to employees’ personal and career development, and we believe in offering employees the opportunity to grow and thrive with us."

Echoing Li, Kam said that McDonald’s has always upheld a people-centric philosophy, recognising employees as the company’s greatest asset and, therefore, being highly committed to talent development. Such commitment is evident in the offering of the 'Professional Diploma in Management Development (QF Level 5)', as well as in its globally standardised internal training system for its employees in over 100 countries.

On the other hand, treating every employee as a 'McFamily' member, McDonald’s has also been leveraging creative ideas and new channels to better engage with local employees. "From a talent referral incentive programme to employee annual dinner and exclusive events, we never fail to offer pleasant surprises to our ‘McFamily’ members," said Kam.

For example, earlier this year, McDonald’s held an annual dinner for over 8,000 employees with artist performances for three days in a row at AsiaWorld-Expo, where both part-time and full-time employees had the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing evening, and each of them received a red packet to celebrate Chinese New Year; in mid-August, McDonald’s invited around 3,000 employees, both frontline and office, to bring a friend or family member to enjoy a sought-after concert.

"Such an exclusive experience not only creates a stronger sense of belonging towards the brand, but also a stronger bonding within the ‘McFamily’," Kam affirmed.

An inclusive approach to attract diverse talents

In terms of talent acquisition, as shared by Kam, McDonald’s has adopted a multi-prolonged approach to attract potential.

“We offer referral incentives ranging from free air tickets to video game consoles, i.e., PlayStation 5. We also leverage our app with over four million users, as well as various social media channels to reach out to potential employees,” he elaborated. “In collaboration with NGOs and other organisations, we conduct recruitment talks, specifically for our targeted potential employees.”

Li added that McDonald’s welcomes all people to join, and a growth mindset, empowerment, agility and resilience are the top skills the company is looking for.

“At McDonald’s, ‘inclusion’ is one of our core values. We welcome all walks of life, from Gen Z, housewives to retirees who are interested in joining the ‘McFamily’,” she said. “The flexibility and opportunities that we offer are borderless.”

Kam concluded: “McDonald’s will continue to create a better and diverse working environment to recruit, develop and retain talents, so that employees can grow together in the ‘McFamily’.”

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All photos / Provided

Lead image: (L-R) Kevin Kam, Chief People Officer; and Susanna Li, Chief Operations Officer, McDonald’s Hong Kong

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