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Focus on engagement to get the most out of your people says McDonald's David Fairhurst

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HR needs to concentrate on how to get more sales and profitability out of people, according to McDonald's HR head.

David Fairhurst, senior vice-president/chief people officer, McDonald's Restaurants Northern Europe, said: "What HR should be talking about is, ‘How do you truly understand what it is that your business needs? What’s the engine around people that drives your business performance? How can you get more sales and profitability from your people?

"Then, secondly, HR needs to be thinking about, ‘What is it that your people truly value about working for you organisation? What is it that differentiates you as an employer?’ And then you need to bring those two things together to create that energy that can be released around people in an organisation."

Two years ago, McDonald’s began its fight back against the dictionary definition of the so-called ‘McJob’, launching an aggressive campaign to redefine preconceptions about working life at the burger-flipping conglomerate.

At the time, a McJob was defined as an ‘unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects’, but head honchos at the firm argued that this was not only insulting, but grossly out of date.

Speaking to executive business channel MeetTheBoss.tv, Fairhurst, who was yesterday awarded an honorary doctorate degree yesterday from

Middlesex University in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the HR  sector, added: "Our research shows how 87% of people who work for McDonald’s get their first choice university place, which is way above that of the national average.

"We’re clearly making a significant contribution towards people’s future and it’s also paying off in terms of how they perceive the company and in terms of how their peers perceive working for an organisation like McDonald’s.

"And the reality is the more you give people transferable skills, the less likely they are to transfer. The intrinsic value lies for me in understanding that what you should be focusing on is engagement, not turnover."