Lynn Hong, Director, People & Office Services, McDonald’s Singapore, shares about how average tenure of its employees keeps improving year-on-year.
The quick service restaurant (QSR) sector has been plagued with a challenge; with demand high but supply low ever since COVID-19 struck Singapore, manpower has become even more of a precious resource.
In the face of all this, McDonald’s Singapore ensures to maintain a robust recruitment and retention strategy, reaching optimal levels in its workforce, as Lynn Hong, Director, People & Office Services, McDonald’s Singapore, tells us. Structured career development pathways, complemented with training opportunities, have helped 50% of its crew members advance to become restaurant managers, leading to better talent retention. At the same time, an improved wage structure helps to attract new hires and to retain current crew members.
With these efforts and many others combined, McDonald’s Singapore has managed to overcome one of the biggest obstacles the industry has faced in recent years. It also walked away with a bronze win for 'Excellence in Retention Strategy' at the HR Excellence Awards - Singapore in 2023.
Lynn Hong shares about how average tenure of its employees keeps improving year-on-year, and more, in this interview.
Q Congratulations on your top performance at the HR Excellence Awards! How has your HR and people strategy contributed to your success this year?
Our strategy of robust recruitment and retention has seen the strength of our workforce reach optimal levels, ensuring better service, sales and morale at all 150 stores — both old and new — throughout Singapore. McDonald’s at its core is a people’s business, and our people team contributes heavily towards how we make all restaurants 'My Happy Place' for both customers and our staff.
We achieve this by listening to our employees’ needs, giving recognition to success however big or small, and inculcating a culture of opportunity to grow and improve.
Q Looking back at your achievements, what aspect of your HR initiatives are you most proud of and why?
We are proud of our continuing initiatives to upgrade and update our employees across all levels, with detailed training plans for crew and managers at different stages of their careers with us. McDonald’s adopts an 'archway to opportunities' education strategy where employees are empowered to develop the right skillsets for their career progression. Strong partnerships have been forged with institutes of higher learning to provide sponsored education to all employees. Structured career development pathways, complemented with training opportunities, have helped 50% of our restaurant crew members advance to become restaurant managers, leading to better talent retention.
In addition, McDonald’s works with different partners, such as special needs schools and government organisations, to provide employment and learning opportunities for Singaporeans from all walks of life.
Q During your HR journey, what were some significant obstacles you faced, and how did you overcome them to achieve excellence?
Manpower was and is still a precious resource in the quick service restaurant (QSR) sector, with demand high but supply low ever since COVID-19 struck Singapore. While the overall market has improved since the height of the pandemic, all QSRs are still facing a tough fight to fully staff their outlets. To mitigate this, McDonald’s introduced an improved wage structure to attract new hires and to retain current crew members. This helped our restaurants to recruit more aggressively and reach optimal crew numbers.
McDonald’s also devised an attractive referral scheme for current crew members, with cash incentives for every successful referee. These new initiatives synchronised with our existing structure of care leadership, award-winning training and talent programmes, and a HR-led focus on employee mental wellness.
Through all these factors combined, we managed to overcome one of the biggest obstacles the industry has faced in recent years.
Q How does your organisation measure the success and impact of your HR initiatives?
McDonald’s Singapore leverages an annual employee commitment survey to measure outcomes of new and existing initiatives. Due to the scale of the company, we also have scheduled chats between managers and crew members where feedback on overall employee experience is solicited. There is also a longstanding culture of informal feedback through an open-door policy in all stores. Average tenure of employees at McDonald’s Singapore has hit five years for crew and 10 years for restaurant managers and is improving year-on-year.
Q In what direction do you see the HR/people function evolving in the future, considering the emerging trends?
First, the growing trend of focusing on creating a positive employee experience (EX) will remain a priority. This includes reimagining work, providing flexible work arrangements, employee wellbeing, and career development opportunities to enhance employee engagement and retention. Additionally, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) will play a crucial role in creating a more inclusive workplace and addressing systemic bias.
Second, the HR/People function will be part of business transformation.
The people function will play an integral role by taking ownership of these change processes, integrate closer interaction, cooperation with departments across the board, as well as connecting leadership and business needs with employee capabilities.
Third, HR transformation, where technology plays a critical role, will prove that it is a business necessity. As mentioned in the first point above, HR leaders are now at the helm of reimagining work and rethinking EX to overcome unprecedented labour shortages and changing employee expectations, ensuring talent and business continuity. HR will increasingly leverage AI and automation for routine tasks such as screening resumes, scheduling interviews, and benefits administration, freeing up HR professionals to focus on strategic initiatives.
Lastly, HR professionals will need to acquire new skills to navigate these changes effectively, including data analysis, technological efficiency, and most importantly, change management.
The future of HR will be marked by how fast and agile it can adapt to these trends, and transform to meet both employees and organisation needs. HR will become a key strategic partner in driving business success by future-proofing the organisation with a skill-based, agile, and engaged workforce.
Read more interviews on why organisations have won trophies for their HR practices - head over to our Winning Secrets' section!
Lead image / Provided