McDonald’s chief people officer David Fairhurst warns HR must make sure it gets the basics right

McDonald’s chief people officer warned HR not to be seduced by strategy at the expense of getting the basics right at this week’s CIPD annual conference.

David Fairhurst told delegates at the conference’s closing keynote speech HR must “get the nuts and bolts of HR work right”, such as payroll, recruitment, retention, employee reward and employee engagement, as this is what matters to employees.

His words echoed those of Chris Bones, principal of Henley Management College, earlier this year, who told Personnel Today HR must restore the transactional value of HR before working out long-term strategy.

Fairhurst, the replacement keynote speaker for Clare Chapman, workforce director-general of the NHS – who pulled out of the conference for personal reasons – stressed the importance of HR getting a grip on wider business issues.

“Going forward, HR must put the organisation first, HR second,” he said. “It has proved it has added value to an organisation, it has proved it can be treated more seriously. Now, HR needs to be seen as fuelling the organisation’s engine.”

Personnel Today’s top power player also urged HR managers to make sure the “potentially damaging” skills shortage is on their chief executive’s agenda.

“HR’s role is to ensure that things like the government skills pledge are on an organisation’s radar. HR must scan the horizon, and respond to the growing skills crisis,” he warned.

McDonald’s signed the skills pledge in June this year. More than 250 employers have done the same.

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