Personnel Today Awards 2014 winners: McDonald’s take home technology award

McDonalds take home Excellence in HR Through Technology Award
McDonalds take home Excellence in HR Through Technology Award

AppLearnThe award for Excellence in HR Through Technology, sponsored by AppLearn, recognises the effective use of technology by HR teams to bring about business benefits. We profile the winning submission from McDonald’s, and take a look at the rest of the shortlist.

WINNERS: McDonald’s Restaurants

About the organisation
The McDonald’s Corporation is the world’s largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, serving around 68 million customers daily in 119 countries across 35,000 outlets.

The challenge
Over the last five years, McDonald’s UK experienced significant business growth, leading to a year-on-year increase in employee numbers. There have also been many changes to legislation, technology and employee expectations, as well as new operational and people processes. It became evident that the existing “people systems” had become inefficient and inadequate. The archaic IT platform created barriers to executing for business results; in terms of what it provided and the time it took to get tasks completed. A new coherent system was required which was fully supportive and progressive with the ever-changing needs of the employees and the business.

What the organisation did

  • Developed “PeopleStuff” – an innovative new people platform deployed across 1,230 restaurants to provide a “hire-to-retire” service to its employees, managers and customers.
  • Engaged with more than 1,000 stakeholders, which helped ensure that it was considering all requirements of the improved system.
  • PeopleStuff has two key systems at its heart, Oracle HR for human resources and Training and Reflexis Workforce Management for scheduling, and time and attendance.
  • Implemented new technology called Webcenter to make Oracle HR more appealing for its users.
  • Introduced a new scheduling processes to allow managers to be mindful of the diverse needs of their employees.
  • Enabled “Crew screens”, which add flexibility to their working lives, allowing them to swap shifts, pick up extra work or change their availability at the approval of their manager.
  • Developed three streams to the programme to address issues with rolling it out among franchises, involving deployment, training and business change.
  • Held formal classroom sessions nationally, supported by more than 100,000 modules, which meant restaurants were eased in to the big changes PeopleStuff brought.

Benefits and achievements

  • All business benefits and objectives set have been achieved, such as remote access; legally compliant; self-service for all employees; a single HR record for every employee; improve efficiency/reduce admin tasks; and improved employee scheduling accuracy.
  • Employees have greater control over their personal information; they can adjust their own details, and see their payslip online.
  • Lower crew turnover of 32% (an 8% decrease on company average).
  • Employee commitment scores as measured by annual employee survey in 2013 averaged 95% (4% higher than the McOpCo average).
  • Reduced time spent on ensuring legal compliance and on administration – system integration combined with employee self-service and the average four-hour reduction in time to complete the schedule, saves managers time, meaning they have more time on the floor.
  • Hourly level sales projection efficiency improved by 12.5%, which means that restaurant managers are able to more accurately forecast needs on a shift and maximise sales.
  • Company has seen a 0.36% reduction in employee labour and an 0.81% improvement in profit at the pilot restaurants.

Judges’ comments
“The right actions seem to have been taken, and in a complex environment.”



About the organisation
Harrods is a leader in luxury retail, renowned for its exclusive product selection and unrivalled customer service. Its merchandise spans seven floors and 330 departments, ranging from “haute couture” fashion and luxury accessories to homewares and technology.

Excellence in HR Through Technology – the judge

Jon Ingham, executive consultant, Strategic Dynamics Consultancy Group.

The challenge
With the number of new starters per year in excess of 6,000, and a huge number of temporary staff employed over busy period such as Christmas, feedback was that employees wanted more time spent learning about the Harrods brand values and less time dedicated to its policies and procedures. The existing induction process, “Welcome”, was provided in electronic or print form, and literature varied according to role. A new approach to induction was needed.

What the organisation did

  • Reviewed induction process and streamlined it into seven project streams, including on-boarding support.
  • Decided on an app, which would give new starters the opportunity to receive lots of crucial information about their employment before they arrive for induction.
  • Worked with an online communications company called LINE Communications, one of Europe’s leading learning and communications providers and the market leading provider of bespoke e-learning solutions in the UK.
  • Designed app to provide an interactive platform for new employees to engage with Harrods immediately after accepting their offer.
  • Formulated app to include six main sections, which leads to a further 28 sub-sections and is a hub for increasing engagement with the Harrods brand. Sections include:
    • I Love Harrods – covering history of the store, glossary, facts and information about the business culture.
    • Style Guide – helping new starters to understand Harrods’ high expectations, particularly in the areas of dress code and personal branding.
    • My Essentials – covering all the burning questions an employee needs to know, such as policies, procedures and key pieces of information.
    • Quick Quiz – employees can benefit from learning about the history of the store in a fun, interactive way.
    • The Harrods Welcome – details exactly what an employee will experience when they join the business, including an itinerary for the induction and an innovative section of interactive checklists.
    • Meet the Team – employees can interact with people at all levels of the business, from the most junior to the managing director.

Benefits and achievements

  • Removed £12,000 from annual printing costs.
  • Provided Gen Y new starters with a new platform for interactive learning which is up to date with latest technology.
  • Created an innovative way of appealing to a variety of candidates, at all levels of seniority, job roles and business area.
  • Made induction more efficient, dedicated to what employees really want and need.
  • Provided an opportunity for ongoing support that managers and new starters can dip into and out of at any time.

Judges’ comments
“An onboarding app is a nice simple idea and still relatively new in the HR space.”


About the organisation
MBNA is part of Bank of America; it is one of the UK’s largest credit card providers and a recognised leader in affinity marketing, with credit cards endorsed by hundreds of organisations, sports teams and financial institutions. Based in Chester with approximately 2000 employees, it is one of the region’s biggest private-sector employers.

The challenge
The future of the business was thrown into considerable doubt in 2011 when the Bank of America announced it would be exiting the credit card business. With this announcement came significant uncertainty, restructuring and more than 1,000 redundancies. To enable the best possible outcome for the future of both MBNA and its people through a sale, the HR team took an innovative approach to its circumstances and invested in developing a highly skilled and engaged workforce.

What the organisation did

  • Deployed an enterprising social networking software, JIVE (the “Leadership Cloud”), which would enable leaders to better communicate, collaborate and learn together, and allow the executive team to show clarity in their strategic direction, connect with leaders in a more informal way, and start to rebuild trust in a business where confidence was low.
  • Launched Leadership Cloud at the end of 2012, connecting leaders horizontally and vertically across the business. Participation was optional – leaders could choose whether or not to use the Cloud.
  • Using new, more informal language and tone to communicate, leaders were invited to “join the conversation”. The attraction to join and participate was based on the desire to learn, collaborate and communicate differently.
  • New software worked with existing engagement programme, eXplore, to convey three key principles; engage, enable and empower.
  • Fostered a more open environment, breaking down hierarchies, enhancing a culture built on the businesses’ core values.
  • Encouraged users to engage in debates, share concerns or discuss key challenges.
  • Provided employees with flexible and easily accessible leader development information, resources and peer-to-peer support.
  • Organised live polls during leader development events and live Q&A sessions.
  • Updated leader development communities, hosting information, material and discussions on programme activity.
  • Set up cross-business working groups and virtual focus groups from across the organisation.

Benefits and achievements

  • The Cloud has reconnected and re-engaged leaders at a crucial time – metrics indicate that all of the senior executive team choose to be active, with 66% of the leadership population active and growing rapidly.
  • Transformed business-wide collective thinking skills, intelligence gathering and cooperation.
  • Provided leadership with a powerful tool to transform engagement in times of change.
  • Underpinned how it develops leaders and how they communicate and engage with one another.
  • Business engagement levels increased from 70% in 2012 to 79% in 2013.
  • Majority (89%) of leaders chose to join development programmes on the Cloud, encouraging a mindset change.
  • Work Foundation research calculates a 10% engagement increase, adding £1,500 per employee on the bottom line: a 9% improvement from 2000.
  • The Cloud has significantly contributed to the development of a highly skilled and engaged workforce with demonstrable results.

Judges’ comments
“Good to see another implementation of a corporate social network, particularly one that isn’t Yammer.”


About the organisation
NATS is a world leader in the provision of air traffic control services. In 2014, it will handle more than two million flights carrying in excess of 220 million passengers.

The challenge
NATS realised that its existing enterprise system, SAP, was only configured to deal with employee records, pay, sickness, absence and time recording. There was no integrated view of prospective employees, current employee performance, development needs, career aspirations, succession potential or general capability levels. Workforce planning was tactical and the opportunities afforded by answers to the questions underpinning “big data” seemed a long way off.

What the organisation did

  • Selected two providers to support new HR technologies; Kenexa for Talent Acquisition (2Xbrassring) and Cornerstone for Integrated Talent Management System.
  • Delivered Kenexa and phase 1 of Cornerstone within five months by March 2013, and phase 2 of Cornerstone three months ahead of schedule in December 2013.
  • Both projects had formal governance arrangements, with cross-business representation – HR retained an overall design authority role, consulting with the organisation through a “Project Review Board” to ensure that the projects were delivered within time, cost and quality constraints.
  • Designed new product, Metis, which is fully configured and deployed to support performance management, learning, and career development.
  • Developed a customised front-end, designed to enhance users’ experience, which has been built to be consistent with existing NATS Sharepoint technologies.
  • Introduced internal and external training catalogues; e-learning; mobile learning; curriculum progression; mandatory and regulatory training; learning evaluations and ongoing regulatory professional development; and social collaboration via a Facebook-style interface.
  • Project teams ensured the change management aspects of both projects were successful; organisational engagement was maintained by demonstrating progress through briefings, stakeholder meetings and seminars as well as the formal “project review board”.
  • Deployment was delivered by using various corporate communications channels, e-learning, online webinars and help clinics.
  • Union engagement was maintained by involving and enabling influence over configuration and deployment – very few issues were raised and user adoption is now high.

Benefits and achievements

  • Enabled automated workflow to bring recruitment in-house and offer a more personal candidate experience.
  • Ensured all vacancies are posted to social media sites in seconds, not hours – time saved has ensured a more personal recruitment service.
  • Two-way connection ensures regulatory compliance and integrated reporting from the SAP warehouse and there are plans to further integrate Kenexa with SAP to fully automate enterprise reporting.
  • Kenexa solution has enabled the business to reduce the administrative load on the talent acquisition team in excess of 50% as well as integrating social media recruitment technologies.
  • By bringing recruitment activity in-house it has achieved a saving of £500k per annum along with associated improvements to time and quality.
  • Majority (93%) of employees actively use the performance element of Metis and 100% engage with learning.
  • Feedback provided by employees have been positive, and the formal project review board has evolved into a “user forum” where a roadmap for system enhancement is discussed and prioritised.
  • Significant cost savings have been realised though the standardisation and automation of performance and learning processes, exceeding the financial benefits originally identified.

Judges’ comments
“Complicated combination of Kenexa and Cornerstone with integration to SAP and Sharepoint.”


About the organisation
RSA is a 304-year-old insurance company with more than 23,000 employees globally. It is one of the world’s leading general insurers and operates in 32 countries.

The challenge
In early 2013 the company wanted to better connect its UK based-employees, of which there are approximately 8,000 based in 19 offices, to help improve the experience of its customers. It was apparent quite quickly that the traditional internal communication channels were not going to live up to this business challenge as they were all push channels, successful in their own right at sharing news and information, but did not allow for free-flowing, visible and transparent discussion and collaboration.

What the organisation did

  • Decided to start using Yammer, which grew from a small start into something that has become part of daily life for its employees.
  • Had a “clear purpose and objective” – wanted to tap into the knowledge of its frontline employees to help it become customer obsessed and breakdown any barriers that were in the way of them delivering brilliant service for customers.
  • Incorporated Yammer into its communication plans and events to increase active users and broaden the conversation.
  • Allowed its employees to “own Yammer” – becoming a space for open and honest debate among colleagues – wanted it to be an open channel where nothing is wrong or prohibited, allowing employees to be honest and share what is on their mind.
  • Encouraged leaders to join Yammer once the conversation had started, and ruled that they could only contribute to a conversation, not start one.
  • Channelled the energy of its passionate Gen Y employees into producing #yamtips to share with all employees via the intranet.
  • Launched a reverse mentoring programme where Gen Y employees “buddied” up with senior leaders to help them get the most from Yammer.

Benefits and achievements

  • Helped the company maintain employee engagement levels during a period of significant change.
  • After 18 months it has 6,774 registered users, of which more than 50% are “engaged users”, liking or posting a comment every day.
  • A total of 59% of users have downloaded the Yammer app to their own personal device, which indicates the high levels of engagement.
  • Reduced email traffic and document sharing on its servers by 37%.
  • Saw 32 documented #yamwins that have delivered improvements for customers.
  • Broken down barriers between UK offices and company is now working on how it can use Yammer to do this globally.

Judges’ comments
“Important project to improve customer service in a geographically complex environment.”

Standard Life

About the organisation
Standard Life plc is a long-term savings and investment business, with headquarters in Edinburgh and operations around the globe. It has 1.5 million shareholders in more than 50 countries and more than six million customers.

The challenge
To enable it to realise its vision of having the best performing “people function” in the long term savings and investment market, Standard Life wanted to introduce a new IT-enabled operating model and developed a business case that set out how the function would transform itself. A challenge was convincing key stakeholders to commit to the investment, as the company had previously invested significantly in a failed HR systems implementation. This had left it with poorly implemented systems, inefficient processes, fragmented data and inadequate management information, which resulted in a high degree of manual intervention and exposed the organisation to unnecessary risk.

What the organisation did

  • Set up the People Change Programme to deliver in three phases: establish the foundations in the UK with Oracle E-Business Core HR and payroll; enhance the solution to include Fusion Talent Management Suite co-existing with E-business; and and introduce Taleo Recruit and Learn.
  • Aligned the People Function teams to the Employee Lifecycle Model, improving processes and reducing associated operating costs significantly.
  • Set up a third-party managed service model to address skill gaps within Standard Life while improving service.
  • Decommission redundant systems, and introduced a new helpdesk and intranet as the main gateway into the function.
  • Set up new performance management practices and a flexible pay matrix to make a clear link between performance and reward.
  • Implemented group-wide jobs and competencies framework to enhance performance management, career planning and employee engagement.
  • Released sophisticated resourcing solution, enhancing the candidate experience while giving mangers greater autonomy and control over their recruitment decisions.
  • Designed an enhanced learning offering for all employees providing greater access to learning resources, career management and a link to performance and development.
  • Organised a series of leadership-lead events – stakeholder management and active and visible sponsorship was paramount.

Benefits and achievements

  • By the end of 2013, achieved financial savings of £8 million and the programme is currently on target to deliver annualised savings of £5.4 million, delivering an internal rate of return of 38%.
  • Self-funded the programme within four years.
  • Reduced headcount to date by nearly 30% (annualized headcount savings of £4.7 million, plus associated operating savings of £0.7 million).
  • Simplified IT landscape saving a further £1.4 million, reducing IT support and technology costs.
  • Established greater control over overtime and flexitime arrangements, and saw a reduction in recruitment costs.
  • Reduced compliance-related risk through the partnership with payroll provider.
  • Ensured consistency of process across the group.
  • Reduced reward cycle from three months to two weeks.
  • Created efficiencies and increased security as a result of technology; and introduced paperless payslips.

Judges’ comments
“Positive benefits and one of just a couple of applications to attempt a return on investment.”


About the organisation
Unilever is an Anglo-Dutch multinational consumer goods company co-headquartered in London, England and Rotterdam. Its products include food, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products. It is the world’s third-largest consumer goods company measured by 2012 revenue, after Procter & Gamble and Nestlé. One of the oldest multinational companies, its products are available in around 190 countries.

The challenge
Unilever spends more than €6 billion a year on pay, and it wanted to find new ways to ensure that this spend was effective. It set out to develop the technology it uses to produce its “total reward statements” into a “total reward system” that will enable it to manage pay at Unilever more effectively through greater consistency, data quality and automation.

What the organisation did

  • Wanted to increase engagement by showing employees a total reward statement (TRS) detailing their pay, benefits, incentives and international assignee benefits, if applicable.
  • Listened to employees’ views on pay through a “Rate My Reward” survey accessed from within each TRS.
  • Analysed responses for each element of the reward package in each country in terms of; satisfaction and importance. Also tested advocacy with statements ranging from “I would speak highly of pay at Unilever without being asked” to “I would be critical of pay at Unilever without being asked”.
  • Feedback alongside five other data sets is now being fed into “reward development plans” for each country, which were established from 2012 to 2013.
  • Developed an innovative “Calculation Engine” to automatically calculate values based on input from our HR Information System and other sources. This ensures the system “keeps itself up to date”, freeing up reward managers’ time.
  • Provided a tool, Data Extract, that enabled reward costs to be summarised across any segment of the business.
  • Developed a benchmarking system which automatically generates data sent to salary survey providers and applies the survey results to show how it pays its people compared with the market.
  • Built a package information tool, which allows anyone to calculate the cost of any package in any country.
  • Linked pay values to cost centre and general ledger codes to achieve precision in cost scenario planning.

Benefits and achievements

  • Greater employee engagement and higher understanding of pay across the organisation.
  • Enhanced insight on employees’ views on their pay, enabling fact-based reward policy development.
  • Better understanding of the true cost of a reward package across entire organisation. Previously, assumptions were often very inaccurate.
  • Improved delivery speed of accurate reward data to those who need it.
  • Increased use of automation in reward management.
  • The costs of any proposed changes to salary levels are now automatically calculated – this will save approximately 100 man hours of effort per country.
  • A total of 41% of the in-scope population completed the Rate My Reward survey in 2012.

Judges’ comments
“A useful initiative in a complex environment.”

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