McDonalds discuss elevating the global digital employee experience

Paula Coughlan is Chief People Strategy Officer at McDonalds. She explains how the burger giant is using digital tools to engage with a new generation of customers and employees

How to create a human-centred digital employee experience

There are three main principles. You have to ask “what are the fundamental human needs?” If you look at all successful businesses in the digital space, their success has been about understanding and addressing those basic needs and wants. Take Google: a business that addresses the human need for knowledge.

The second thing is that you must be ‘human-centred’. We are a customer-focused business and our brand purpose is that we want to create feelgood moments for our customers when they visit our restaurant.

The third point is that you have to be able to provide the right digital tools to meet those needs. At McDonald’s we have some existing technology that has been in place for a while that we are looking to modernise and upgrade. One of those is our crew portal ‘Our lounge’, which is in many of our markets worldwide. We’ve got about 1.9million employees globally but most of them are working for our network of franchisees. So the question is, how do we engage with them? Our Lounge helps us do that.

How a shift towards a digital employee experience can optimise workforce productivity

It comes back to those ‘feel-good’ moments. One example: Some of our markets are using applications like Snapchat to help attract millennial applicants. Our business is growing and changing quite rapidly and we have significant hiring needs in many of the markets, so the use of ‘Snapplications’ is helping people to create and submit a video application to personalise who they are and the role that they are applying for.

What makes that interesting is that when you engage with the potential applicant through that channel, you’re allowing them to be their own authentic selves. That matches the experience we want to create in the restaurant around those feel-good moments. It’s not about a scripted experience, but about showing up and bringing their real self into the workplace by being genuine and authentic.

How organisations can measure the success of the digital employee experience

Ultimately we are trying to tie our digital experience back to the customer experience. By doing that you can really start to see some of the changes measured through insights. So it’s fantastic that you can make a direct link between crew experience and customer experience.

We have started to benchmark the quality of our leadership culture and talent with other big global organisations. You would expect to see shifts there as well as the employee experience begins to evolve, so we are trying to improve the link between digital usage and business outcomes. For example in one of our markets they ran a campaign on our Our Lounge tool about Big Macs and we are looking at whether our employee-focused campaign has had an impact on sales during the campaign.

What organisations can do to help shift the employee mindset towards digital

It’s a funny thing: if you think about younger people they are already there and they are looking for business that they work in to catch up! So the challenge is more for the leadership cohort and in within HR functions generally.

I think it also comes back into the question of what are the fundamental needs. If we can show that our digital assets impact customers, and that at the same time we can meet the fundamental needs of both leaders and the HR team, then I think that’s a really good place to start.

Paula will be discussing digital employee experience further at the HRD Summit on 6th February, at The ICC in Birmingham. To understand how you can join her and other industry experts including Josh Bersin, visit hrdsummit.com for more information

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