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HR Excellence Awards 2011 - Outstanding Employee Engagement Strategy: McDonald's

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In a hotly contested category, fast food chain McDonald's stood out to the panel of judges as an organisation with its engagement strategy "firmly based in the business".

The chain recognised that a highly skilled, highly motivated workforce is the keystone of a successful and customer-focused business. However the company recognised the negative publicity that sometimes surrounds the brand means staff face hostility from people outside the business, even if they enjoy their jobs.

The company brought in Lancaster University to prove a clear link between employee engagement and business growth - which it did.

In response, McDonald's engagement strategy was launched, to enhance employee pride in the business, improve brand perception, contribute to improving business performance and develop people.

Last year it launched 'meet our people', which seeks to humanise staff in uniform - and to celebrate and feature a selection of McDonald's staff. The campaign, which set out to show employees as 'talented individuals from all walks of life', was the first campaign in the employer's history to receive a 100% positive or neutral reception.

The company invested in the wellbeing of its staff through an online wellbeing kit, it invested £35 million in up-skilling and training for staff (and published a prospectus detailing the variety of qualifications, degrees and work experience available for staff at the company), and launched numerous reward initiatives, including 100 free holidays and bonuses for mystery shopper awards.

Through its London 2012 Olympic games sponsorship, McDonald's has cultivated a sense of pride among staff. As 2,000 employees will have the opportunity to be directly involved with next year's London Olympics and volunteering, a real buzz as grown about the company.

McDonald's UK CEO Jill McDonald is actively involved in employee engagement, driving the initiatives within the business and publically talking about the work taking place in the chain.

McDonald's has set out on the road to turning around perception of its brand and every engagement decision it makes is directly linked to its corporate goals. It reports 84.5% of staff feel valued, 83.8% feel proud to work at the restaurant chain, and 83.5% feel motivated. In turn, the UK company saw an additional 72 million customers in 2010, from the previous year.

Pointing out McDonalds' "great" results, the judges saw the strategy as ground-breaking in driving new things forward and believed it to be a long-term strategy for the company - not just a one-off engagement activity.

Highly commended

Diageo

The belief that the capability and energy of people can deliver unrivalled business performance lies at the heart of Diageo's engagement strategy. In fact, engagement forms one of the key pillars of the drinks manufacturer's total business strategy.

Diageo has set itself the goal of being number one on the Great Places to Work survey by 2014 (it came 10th in 2010). The company addresses three key areas in a bid to ensure employees are engaged: energy (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual); human needs (certainty, variety, significance, connection, growth, contribution); and conditions (people's relationships with the business, each other and themselves).

The company's strategy for engagement focuses on staff being well managed and led, informed and involved, having the opportunity to grow and be valued. These are engrained into Diageo's culture, it says.

Judges thought the clarity of the company's strategy and goals was excellent and the strategy was well implemented, engaging leaders and boosting employees' career growth - and that it was communicated with energy.

Finalists

Derbyshire Community Health Services (NHS)

DHL Supply Chain

Ladbrokes

Johnson Controls Automotive (UK)

The Co-operative Group

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